Sheff Weds 0 Leeds 2: Fernando Forestieri misses chance to atone as Chris Wood woos the faithful

WHEN IT came to Fernando, you suspected that something was in the air.

Sheffield Wednesdays Fernando Forestieri, at full stretch, halts Leeds Uniteds Marcus Antonsson (Picture: Steve Ellis).
Sheffield Wednesdays Fernando Forestieri, at full stretch, halts Leeds Uniteds Marcus Antonsson (Picture: Steve Ellis).

Given the sort of roller-coaster week that Fernando Forestieri had endured, many felt that it was written in the stars that he would hog the limelight for Sheffield Wednesday in a game that looked right up his particular boulevard.

He had ‘previous’ to contend with regarding Leeds United after all, with United owner Massimo Cellino claiming that the club had opted out of a move to sign the gifted forward 12 months ago because he did not possess the “right mentality”.

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A haul of 12 goals in 21 Hillsborough appearances since heading to Sheffield suggested that he was made of the right stuff where it mattered, on the pitch.

That said, the striker headed into Saturday’s derby with a fence or two to mend after his no-show against Norwich – amid speculation linking him with big-money moves to Derby County and Newcastle United.

Some contrition and public kissing and making up followed in the week, but you sense that nothing would have renewed vows better than a key contribution against an arch Yorkshire rival.

In the event, it was another striker who built a bridge with supporters in Leeds United’s Chris Wood.

The early sparring suggested that it might well be a Forestieri day, with Wednesdayites quick to voice their support after a taunting chant of ‘Forestieri, he doesn’t want to play’ from the Leppings Lane end.

The Owls’ talisman set about winning over any doubters still yet to be convinced that blue and white courses through his veins in brisk, impish and characteristic fashion.

The headline was seemingly waiting to be written when he hared away in the 17th minute after being the beneficiary of a mistake by Leeds defender Charlie Taylor only to drill his effort wide.

Moments later, another chance came when he latched onto Tom Lees’s header downfield and rounded Rob Green. This was presumably it, but Liam Cooper decreed otherwise, with his sentinel-like defending close to the goalline saving the day.

Forestieri’s fire began to fade and so did Wednesday’s – with Wood afforded centre stage by the end, while his Owls rival was stranded on the periphery for much of the second half on the left flank.

Seven days on from getting jeered after being replaced after a low-key display against Birmingham, Wood was entitled to reflect on the clock quickly going around – so, too, Garry Monk.

While it was strike partner Marcus Antonsson who forged a breakthrough, the big Kiwi provided the gloss with a late second – with the celebratory reaction in front of the ecstatic sea of away followers contrasting sharply with his cupped-ear message to his detractors following his strike in midweek against Fulham.

A third goal may have even arrived with the rampant Hadi Sacko and Taylor going close.

Like Wood and Forestieri, it has been a testing start to the season from a mental perspective for Taylor and while his weekend performance was sound and typically committed, his future remains uncertain.

Asked if he expects to be at Leeds after the closure of the summer transfer window, the full-back – who saw a transfer request rebuffed at the start of this month – said: “I am not sure.

“Obviously I am contracted until the end of this season, so if they (Leeds) do not want to sell me, then I am under contract. It is up to them and their decision and if they keep me, then I will be until then.

“I think once the transfer window is closed, then I will either not be at Leeds or definitely be at Leeds and I think then I can get my head around the fact either way whatever happens.

“Then I can just concentrate on the football because it is hard at the minute to be fair with what is going on.

“The gaffer has been brilliant. He has just said he understands and said that he has got 100 per cent faith in me whenever he picks me and, hopefully, I can repay him out on the pitch.

“I think Leeds know what I want, but it is up to the club really.”