It is a measure of how long Leeds United had waited for a win in this fixture that when they last got the better of their Yorkshire rivals, 17 years ago this month at Elland Road, Gary Speed was in the home line-up. Speed, a month into his first managerial role at Sheffield United, was seven minutes away from ensuring more derby-day frustration for the club where he started his playing career when Bradley Johnson scored the only goal of a derby that exploded to life late on.
Sheffield full-back Stephen Jordan will have nightmares about his air kick on the halfway line that allowed substitute Robert Snodgrass to break down the right and, after teasing his way past Ritchie De Laet, turn the ball back from the byline for Johnson to slot home inside the six-yard box. Leeds manager Simon Grayson said: "It was a real tight game, a typical derby match with not too many opportunities. You are always waiting for a little bit of magic or a mistake and today we got a bit of both. The left-back made a mistake but Snodgrass still had a lot to do."
Unfortunately Snodgrass's first home appearance of the season ended with an 89th-minute red card, a foul on Leon Britton earning a second yellow after an earlier booking for encroachment. Sheffield almost capitalised only for Jon Ertl's header to come back off the crossbar but the visitors also finished a man down as substitute Jamie Ward saw red after going over the ball in a challenge on Neil Kilkenny. "He didn't touch him," complained Speed.
The late fireworks were in marked contrast to what had gone before when Speed looked to have won the tactical battle with Grayson. The pair signed schoolboy terms at Leeds on the same day in 1984 and went through the ranks together though it was Speed who had the more successful Elland Road career.
With the deep-lying Britton covering impressively in front of his defence, the visitors limited Leeds to only one chance of note before the break – Steve Simonsen keeping out Johnson's header. "We had a game plan and stuck to it well," said Speed. "Leeds had one chance first half. I don't think they had a chance in the second apart from the goal."