I'll front up and be honest in the fact that I didn't catch the opening 20 minutes due to a combination of Virgin problems and a lack of Wise Men in their technical department that left me screaming Jesus at times. The reason why I was tuning in was to really check out the participation of a raft of players who have played for the first team: Adryan, Edgar Çani, Casper Sloth, Brian Montenegro and Dario del Fabro...it might be the only chance we get to see them in action.
First half (from 22 minutes)
As the Internet kicked in, 22 minutes were already on the clock and my anger was at 'Ire Level 5'. My saviour was the game itself that was so laconic and laid back that I was soon soothed back down to baby-level calmness. The first piece of action that I saw was Adryan concede possession, not the most auspicious of starts to see a bit o' the Brazilian Samba kid. The pace was plodding and the end ball...well wasn't really an end ball. Leeds began to have the better of the scrappy play and Adryan volleyed woe on 28 minutes after feeding off a ball from Edgar Çani. On the half hour mark, the ball was fed to Çani and his hasty shot was blocked by the Sheffield Wednesday defence. Sheffield Wednesday seemingly had one tactic that was double-pronged; the ball over the top to either wing or behind central defenders. However, the Leeds central defensive pair, Jake Skelton and Dario del Fabro were solid and reliable and dealt with balls down the middle all afternoon.
It wasn't all Leeds though, Wednesday's Corry having a stinging shot cannon off of Stuart Taylor's crossbar with the Leeds keeper beaten all ends up. Leeds were putting together some passages of neat play, building patiently typified by neat interplay between Adryan and Brian Montenegro in the 34th minute. Both teams began to press well, closing men down and the intensity heated up somewhat; it was becoming that tug-o-war, clichéd end-to-end stuff. On 37 minutes Leeds looked promising when a Montenegro ball nearly released Tyler Denton but the ball had just a little too much weight on it. Then, straight up the other end and Sheffield Wednesday had a sharp shot saved by Stuart Taylor. The game slowed somewhat as it crawled towards halftime.
Leeds showed better intent from the opening whistle of the second half, Adryan showing tenacity to win the ball and set off on a good run. The opening exchanges were dominated by Leeds' more composed approach to their passing game. Adryan was showing an increased willingness to get his hands dirty and battle back for the ball and on 53 minutes he combined well with Lewis Walters in a quick give and go move. Moments later, Leeds won a corner, delivered by the increasingly influential Adryan who actually managed to land it onto the head of a Leeds United player, something missing from the Leeds first team on Saturday against Millwall. Casper Sloth also showed signs that his natural operating ability was above that of an U21 level game, running with a ball on 56 minutes, passing the ball onto Edgar Çani whose pass infield to Kalvin Phillips ended with a shot just wide from the Leeds youngster.
This period, one of increasing pressure applied by Leeds, continued as the young Sheffield Wednesday keeper panicked, in the 57th minute, under pressure from Edgar Çani and misplaced a kicked clearance straight to the feet of Adryan. Adryan looked up, saw the keeper was out of position and attempted to lob him from around 35 yards, his lofted attempt only narrowly missing the target. A minute later, Lewis Walters fed the ball onto Çani whose pass to Brian Montenegro ended when the Paraguayan's shot was blocked by a defender. Then, on 59 minutes, a glimpse of Brazilian magic from Adryan as he received the ball in his own half, looked up, and ran at the defender. As Adryan approach the defender at speed , he did a glorious stepover which froze the defender to the spot; Adryan ghosted past the hapless Sheffield Wednesday midfielder who was literally left grasping at thin air as the Brazilian menino prodígio sped past him, his ball infield being wasted by Leeds.
Leeds were definitely having the better of the game, but it wasn't all one-way traffic. Despite another drop in pace and intensity, Wednesday continued to push and probe and a 63rd minute free kick resulted in Stuart Taylor having to push the ball behind for a corner. However, despite the Sheffield team's best efforts through the middle, they met with stoically-composed Leeds defence marshalled well by Dario del Fabro and young Jake Skelton who handled everything directed their way. On 72 minutes, Leeds had their clearest chance of the game and it came courtesy of Adryan. Adryan played an initial ball to Coyle just inside the Leeds half, who fed the ball to Lewis Walters rampaging down the Sheffield right flank. Walters' ball in found the supporting Adryan whose downward header was cleared off the line.
The scrappy play returned and it was a slow-paced drag the ball around the field for the next ten or so minutes. Leeds had the next chance on 84 minutes when Walters fed Del Fabro whose attempted shot/pass was blocked by a Sheffield Wednesday defender; another Leeds effort came the way of Luke Parkin whose 88th minute shot was just wide of the mark. However, it was Sheffield Wednesday who closed the game out the stronger with Stuart Taylor having to make two smart saves in the 89th and 90th minutes to deny the visitors a game-winning goal.
First XI watch
Adryan - there was a lot about his game today that showed that he would flourish with more accomplished players around him. Aside from his expected flair and Samba magic, he showed a willingness to track back and battle for the ball. His vision and passing was good and it holds well for a place in the starting XI where more accomplished and aware players will profit from what he provides.
Casper Sloth - hardworking and industrious, showed solid glimpses of why he's been involved in the starting XI and why he's a go-to player in the Leeds United midfield.
Dario del Fabro - looked very composed and assured at the centre of Leeds' defence. Seemed to install confidence in young Jake Skelton who was his central defensive partner. Would be interesting to see him given a chance in the first team, game situation allowing, either at his preferred central defensive position or at right back.
Edgar Çani - would have profited from better ball into him and a more consistent supply. He showed some good touches but also some rustiness; would benefit from game time to properly assess him in the lone striker role.
Brian Montengro - not a good performance, did what was asked of him but didn't really impose himself on a game where he should really be rising above the level on display.