Sheffield Utd 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0: Jos Luhakay impresses on debut and weathers Glenn Loovens' red card

Arindam Rej
Wednesday's Glenn Loovens hacks down United's Clayton Donaldson and is sent off in the Sheffield derby - PA

Sheffield Wednesday’s new manager Jos Luhukay survived his baptism of fire, in his first match, as his men held on for a gutsy draw despite a 64th-minute red card for their captain, Glenn Loovens. 

Luhukay had stepped into the heat of a Sheffield derby, in front of 31,000 noisy fans by matching bitter rivals United’s 3-5-2 formation. The brave tactical ploy of the Dutchman worked, and his injury-hit squad refused to wilt late on in front of a baying Bramall Lane faithful.

Loovens had been sent off in the 64th minute when he picked up his second yellow card for a late challenge on Clayton Donaldson. As he came off, a bottle appeared to be thrown at him, which was picked up by the fourth official. 

Loovens’ challenge was a foul but whether it was a second yellow or not was debatable. Regardless, it was foolish for the Wednesday captain to rashly attempt the challenge on a night that required cool heads.

Former VfB Stuttgart manager Luhukay admitted that he will be having words with his compatriot Loovens about the challenge - having already warned the player at half-time. 

Jos Luhukay, Wednesday's new manager, made a fine first impression Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

The Wednesday manager said: “I said to Glenn to have patience, to have timing with one-on-ones. Glenn was too fast to go into the challenge. 

“He knows that. He is very experienced and a very good captain. But I must speak to Glenn about why he did that. What I saw from the team after that gave me hope though.” 

Fighting talk had not been lacking from United manager Chris Wilder before this game. He spoke like the boyhood Sheffield United fan that he is. 

After the game, he delivered a veiled dig at the Wednesday players for their effort - in comparison to the way they had been playing over the course of this season. 

United's John Fleck and Sheffield Wednesday's Frederico Venancio (right) and Ross Wallace battle for the ball Credit:  Danny Lawson/PA Wire

“They ran around and competed,” said Wilder. “I imagine Carlos [Carvahal, sacked by Wednesday last month] might be a little disappointed.”

Wilder’s mood would not have been helped by the fact David Coote was referee here. The United manager had been enraged when John Fleck had been sent off by the official against Bristol City last month.

Wednesday were on the receiving end this time with the Loovens dismissal - but the home side could also argue that Ross Wallace should then have been sent off in the 74th minute for a challenge on Fleck, which the Scottish midfielder was booked for. Wilder, indeed, argued that. “I can’t see why he’s not given that,” he said. 

Even before the tackles started flying, this atmosphere had been simmering. Many of the streets outside the ground had been buzzing with anticipation before the game and the police - heavily increased in numbers - were called into action to take care of some of the consequent disorder. 

Inside the stadium, this certainly felt like the first visit of Wednesday on to enemy territory since October 2011 as noise levels were cranked up.

The early initiative was taken by United but Luhukay’s men slowly took the sting out of the home side. With no shots on target and no keeper forced into significant action, it had been a case of job done by the away side. 

Wednesday’s goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith came to rescue early in the second half though, with an acrobatic save from Donaldson’s flick. Sheffield-born Wildsmith is a lifelong Wednesday fan - and came up through their youth ranks then broke into the first team - so that particular moment would have felt sweet for him.


Sheffield United (3-5-2): Moore; Baldock, Stearman, O’Connell; Basham, Lundstram, Duffy, Fleck, Stevens; Clarke, Donaldson (Wilson 66). 
Subs Sharp, Wright, Leonard, Evans, Lafferty.

Sheffield Wednesday (3-5-2): Wildsmith; Loovens, Venancio, Pudil; Palmer, Wallace (Clare 90), Jones, Reach, Fox; Rhodes (Boyd 70), Joao (Nuhiu 82). 
Subs Dawson, Butterfield, Matias, Thorniley.
Booked Loovens, Venancio, Wallace, Nuhiu. Sent off Loovens.

Referee David Coote (Nottinghamshire).