FOOTBALL: Yeboah pounces on passive Wednesday

Leeds United 2 Sheffield Wednesday 0
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The Independent Online
David Pleat's mind was working overtime to find the words that would describe Sheffield Wednesday's performance without provoking headlines. It was not their worst performance of the season, he said, still searching, it was their - the light came on - "most passive".

Ah, passive. "Not active, or not participating perceptibly in an activity, organisation, etc," as the dictionary defines it, which pretty well sums up Wednesday's afternoon. They were back to the languid, toothless ways that drove Pleat's predecessor, Trevor Francis, to seek employment elsewhere.

It only requires a look at their employee register to see what could be wrong at Hillsborough. Their list of players goes on a long way but whether quality matches quantity is debateable. "You've got what you've got," Pleat said, "and you need to manoeuvre them." Towards the exit, presumably.

Both managers had to manoeuvre things themselves on Saturday: Leeds to overcome injuries, Wednesday to rein in the irrepressible Tony Yeboah. The solution was the same in each case, a 3-5-2 formation that for half an hour threatened to make Elland Road a tactical delight and an entertainment disaster.

Yet if anyone is equipped to throw over the chess board it is Yeboah, and after 33 minutes he entered the game with the force of a tank division. Two tackles were eluded, Chris Waddle ushered him on, and the Leeds striker thumped a shot from the edge of the area that scorched the earth. For the welfare of Wednesday's goalkeeper, Kevin Pressman, you were thankful Yeboah had used his weaker foot.

It was a goal which would have entered most players' portfolios as their best, but for the striker, who won the BBC's goal of the month for August and ought to for September, it was almost routine. "He's got a secret," Pleat said in awe. "He's very laid back in everything he does. It was if he was practising a shot. Some practice."

Ghanaian galvanised, Leeds were rampant and could have accrued more than Gary Speed's goal. Yeboah nearly bent a post with a shot of enormous power and Brian Deane, who had made Speed's goal, thundered in a volley that would have eclipsed his strike partner's effort had it not been ruled out for offside.

Something in the Wednesday ranks had to break and it proved to be David Hirst's language, proving his mouth was capable of greater violence than his boots could manage. He was sent off for foul and abusive language and probably was greeted with something worse when his manager caught up with him.

Nevertheless Pleat rubbished suggestions his side might struggle this season. "We'll win both cups and finish in the top six," he said. "And you think I'm joking, don't you?"

We could be witnessing the first victim of passive hoping.

Goals: Yeboah (33) 1-0; Speed (57) 2-0.

Leeds United (3-5-2): Lukic; Wetherall, Kelly, Beesley; Couzens, Palmer, McAllister, Tinkler, Speed; Masinga (Deane, 52), Yeboah. Substitutes not used: Bowman, Beeney (gk).

Sheffield Wednesday (3-5-2): Pressman; Atherton, Pearce, Walker; Petrescu (Briscoe, 80), Hyde, Waddle, Pembridge, Nolan (Sheridan, 45); Hirst, Degryse (Bright, 69).

Referee: G Poll (Tring).

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