OWLS FLY INTO THE PLAY-OFF PLACES...

But it’s derby de­light for Owls

The Football League Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Dunlavy

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.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

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

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