OWLS FLY INTO THE PLAY-OFF PLACES...
But it’s derby delight for Owls
FURIOUS Leeds boss Steve Evans said bungling ref Anthony Taylor should be banished to the Under-9s after a bizarre mix-up cost his side a comeback.
Trailing to Gary Hooper’s opportunistic brace, the Whites thought they’d clawed their way into the game when Liam Cooper converted Alex Mowatt’s free-kick in the 78th minute.
But with subbed Wednesday striker Fernando Forestieri still dawdling his way to the touchline, Taylor – having initially given the goal – consulted with his assistant and before chalking it off.
Evans, who’d disappeared to the little boys’ room amid the celebrations, re-emerged to find his side still 2-0 down and afterwards laid into Taylor.
“I can palate Sheffield Wednesday capitalising on two mistakes,” said the Scot.“I can palate losing a game. But I simply cannot palate what the referee did today. I’ve never seen that in my life.
“The free-kick was given.The referee signalled to allow the substitution. Forestieri got his deckchair out and took four days to come off. The referee, in my opinion, then overruled that and said ‘We’re going to restart play’.
“He clearly whistled to restart play. I’ve been in to see him and he admits that. He shouted to my players ‘Play, restart’.We score. He gives the goal. I go for a little leak and when I come back he’s ruled it out.
“I’ve been in and seen Anthony. He says that, in law, he’s got it right. I’ve seen many a substitution where somebody has taken too long and the ref has restarted play. I’ve never seen that happen before and nor has anybody in this stadium.
“But there we go. He’s a Premier League referee who’s stepped down to take charge of a big derby. Well, he should be on the park pitches refereeing the Under-9s for his next game after that performance. You cannot make a mistake of that magnitude in a game that means so much.”
That blunder aside – and, by the letter of the law,Taylor did eventually make the right, if embarrassing, call – Leeds still have a right to feel hard done by. For 45 minutes, they preyed on a sluggish Wednesday side, finding gaps, hitting on the counter and creating a string of openings. With Stuart Dallas rampant on the right, both Lewis Cook and Souleymane Doukara should have finished lethal deliveries.
Yet as the minutes and chances slipped away, there was a sense of inevitability about Wednesday’s response.
Beaten just once all season at Hillsborough, Carlos Carvalhal’s men emerged with renewed intent for the second period and, just three minutes in, Hooper capitalised on a goalmouth scramble to bundle home.
Moments later, Forestieri’s low drive was fumbled by Marco Silvestri and the former Celtic man – who’d missed an easy first-half header – pounced again for his fourth goal in two matches.
Loanee Hooper, 27, is set to return to Norwich – where he earns a reported £30,000 a week – on Monday but is open to a longer stay and Carvalhal is optimistic of keeping hold of him.
“I am not worried because we win games without Gary,” said the Portuguese, whose side moved to fifth. “But if you say to me ‘Do you want Hooper?’, then of course I do.
“I am an optimist about the situation because the player likes to be here and enjoys the way we play. People earn a lot of money at some clubs but they don’t enjoy what they are doing. Being happy is very important to players.”
Wednesday, inspired by the energy of fit-again Sam Hutchinson, could have had more as Leeds pressed, creating but never converting. United, too, deserve credit for refusing to buckle and reasserting some kind of control, though their morale was undoubtedly punctured by the disallowed goal.
“I don’t go away disappointed with the performance today,” added Evans.“I go away disappointed by mistakes.That’s something to build on.”
SUPER HOOPER: Gary Hooper scores his, and Sheffield Wednesday’s, second in their 2-0 win against Yorkshire rivals Leeds United
GET OVER THE LINE: Gary Hooper bundles in Wednesday’s opening goal after a six-yard box scramble