Leeds United 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0: Attrition gets Xisco Munoz up and running as Whites run out of ideas

DEFENSIVE BATTLE: Akin Famewo and Barry Bannan get tight to Leeds United's Crysencio Summerville (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)
DEFENSIVE BATTLE: Akin Famewo and Barry Bannan get tight to Leeds United's Crysencio Summerville (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Things were not quite that serious for Sheffield Wednesday manager Xisco Munoz at Elland Road, but it certainly felt as if a fourth straight Championship defeat of his fledgling Hillsborough career could leave his job in peril.

So grim attrition was the order of the day for the visitors. It paid off.

Defensive lapses have stopped them converting improved performances into points – and cup wins – recently, but they cleared that hurdle on Saturday with a combination of defensive skill, determination and concentration to claim a much-needed and deserved point.

Munoz talks a lot about wanting to control games, to have more of possession but in every Championship match bar one so far (Preston North End), the opposition have been allowed more of the ball. On Saturday, much more.

It was defence versus attack, the Owls only seeing a third of the ball, though it felt like less as Munoz energetically orchestrated them from the sidelines.

But after Cardiff City and Mansfield how they got a point did not matter, only that they did.

They actually offered more counter-attacking threat after the break without having any more possession but there as no question they had come for a point, no matter how ugly, and anything beyond that was a bonus.

So a 0-0 was job done, thank you very much, even if it will be very quickly forgotten.

Leeds started with a brightness which matched the warm sunshine – Archie Gray and Ethan Ampadu always looking to pass the ball forward and often doing so incisively, Georginio Rutter looking full of the confidence which deserted him in his first six months in England, Crysencio Summerville constantly coming off the right to join in, Willy Gnonto looking to create one-on-ones with Callum Paterson on the left.

But they were up against an Owls side who looked determined to keep their first clean sheet of the season, stringing five across the back and letting their opponents know they were there.

It meant that for all their possession, Leeds only managed two shots on target in the first 45 minutes.

With their finishing at fault, it was perhaps no coincidence Joel Piroe was the least involved of the front six.

Leeds signed two central midfielders on deadline day eve and whilst Glen Kamara and Ilia Gruev will be needed, it is hard to see past Ampadu and Gray at present.

It was the teenager who released Summerville behind the Owls defence in the eighth minute, as Rutter had five minutes earlier, and his alertness and hunger for the ball that turned a poor Devis Vasquez kick into another chance which Piroe disappointingly dragged wide.

Summerville was in again after 17 minutes, playing a sharp one-two with Rutter, but under pressure, it was another poor shot..

Vasquez's only real first-half save of note came when the Dutchman turned provider to play in Rutter.

They were good examples of why Leeds are better off without Luis Sinisterra – certainly the view of those in the Norman Hunter Stand who evidently will not be wanting the Colombian back when his loan at Bournemouth, sealed an hour after Friday's deadline, ends.

Counter-attacks were rare but had Josh Windass got a firmer touch on Paterson's right-wing cross in the sixth minute, he could have given Illan Meslier much more of a problem.

Windass would later have a shot blocked when Paterson played a looping switch but his side were not exactly oozing ambition.

Jamie Shackleton tried his luck at the start of the second half, coming in on his stronger foot from left-back to curl over, but it soon became clear the Owls were making more of their counter-attacks – despite Leeds far greater possession, they won the shots on target count five to four.

Michael Smith shot at Meslier on the turn from a deep Di'Shon Bernard free-kick, and the goalkeeper came out to deny Windass.

Roared on by a crowd sensing their part, Leeds were very strong in the opening quarter-of-an-hour after the restart before running out of ideas as the Owls piled on defenders, going from 5-2-2-1 to a straight 5-4-1.

Vasquez denied Rutter when Summerville played him through and Luke Ayling should have buried his header when Gnonto picked him out but headed wide off the turf.

Gnonto and Shackleton threaded lovely through-balls to each other without anything on the end of them. The former popped up on the right and curled an effort wide from there.

The different mindsets of the team were demonstrated by Gnonto's cheeky nutmeg of Paterson, soon followed by Gregroy thumping the ball from two thirds into his own half towards the Leeds penalty area, despite every yellow shirt being in their own half.

But with the door locked and barricaded, there was no repeat of the late goals which have been Wednesday's undoing this season.

Substitute Dominic Iorfa was perhaps lucky to escape a penalty when he barged Gnonto as he accelerated away but Munoz will feel they were owed some fortune.

Hours after Sheffield's Premier League team got off the mark for the season, its Championship side have done the same.

Leeds United: Meslier; Ayling (Spence 81), Rodon, Struijk, Shackleton; Summerville, Gray (Kamara 88), Ampadu, Gnonto; Rutter, Piroe.

Unused substitutes: Cresswell, Gyabi, Poveda, Darlow, Gelhardt, Hjelde, Joseph.

Sheffield Wednesday: Vasquez; Paterson (Valentín 90), Famewo, Diaby, Bernard, Delgado; Byers, Bannan; Gregory (Iorfa 67), Windass; Smith (Fletcher 70).

Unused substitutes: Dawson, Palmer, Vaulks, Bakinson, Ihiekwe, Musaba.

Referee: D Whitestone (Northampton).