The pragmatic approach worked a treat in the first instalment of the all-Yorkshire Championship play-off semi-final for Sheffield Wednesday.
Carlos Carvalhal, pictured right, set his Owls side up to be hard to break down at Huddersfield Town on Sunday and his conservative tactics paid off.
Wednesday defended deep and in numbers and blunted the Terriers attack. It was a superb defensive performance and Huddersfield have now failed to score against the Owls in over six hours.
Wednesday lacked fluidity and cohesion in possession, but ground out a goalless draw. It was not pretty but effective.
“We can do better with the ball but we defended very well,” said boss Carvalhal. “Football is not just about attacking. It is about defending as well.
“We did what we had to do.
“We collectively defended very well. We tried to attack and had some shots from outside the area.
“We tried to score but must give credit to Huddersfield. They blocked our attacks. We made a few mistakes which we will try and correct on Wednesday.
“The most important thing is the semi-final is open and we play at Hillsborough and we have good expectations for Wednesday.”
Although the Owls failed to get the attacking side of their game going, Carvalhal’s side were delighted to keep clean sheet number 17 of the season.
Carvalhal insisted: “The credit for the clean sheet goes to the whole team.
“Our attackers worked hard and it finished with Keiren Westwood.
“We have achieved 17 clean sheets which is something very positive.”
Wednesday have shored things up defensively over the last month, with Carvalhal turning to his old guard. The back four has mainly consisted of Jack Hunt, Tom Lees, Glenn Loovens and Daniel Pudil since the beginning of April, with Westwood, pictured below, in between the sticks.
Hunt, Lees, Loovens and Pudil were integral members of the Owls team who reached Wembley nearly 12 months ago.
“You build relationships and see each other’s strong points and weaknesses,” admitted Hunt. “We work very hard as a team.
“It’s not just a back five. You defend from the front.”
Right-back Hunt, who began his career at Huddersfield, was left frustrated by Wednesday’s inability to create chances at the John Smith’s Stadium.
However, Hunt is confident the Owls’ much-vaunted forward line will shine in the second leg at a sold-out Hillsborough tomorrow night.
“Our strikeforce is absolutely fantastic,” he said. “We are very confident whoever we play. We have full trust in them. They’ve all got great goal-scoring records which is brilliant for us.
“If we get another clean sheet, we will definitely score goals with the players we have got in the dressing room.”