Wes: A solid performance blotted by an unlucky deflection
Sheffield Wednesday – 1
Nottingham Forest – 1
I like going to Sheffield Wednesday. Hillsborough is a proper ground, none of this soulless flatpackery here, four sweeping stands surround the pitch in a way that football grounds should. Of course, accessing the away end is via Leppings Lane – possibly the most ominous of addresses in world football – which always makes pause and take stock of things.
One thing I didn’t like about it was the seeming lack of internet network coverage on my mobile phone – so no live tweeting, no score checking (and no half time scores from our hosts) meant that perhaps I gave our game more of my attention than I usually do. So that is probably a good thing! Forest started with a surprising line-up:
Gunter Morgan Chambers Lynch
Garner McKenna Cohen Anderson
Subs: Smith, Wilson, Moussi, McGugan, McCleary, Earnshaw, Adebola
So it turns out that Lynch is fit, as is McGugan apparently – as well as Wilson who we expected! Tyson missed out due to becoming a father last night (congratulations, Nathan!) and Majewski was unavailable ostensibly due to an injury in training. There’s a few rumours doing the rounds on this, but I’m not about to spread them here.
It was a bit of a dream start for the Reds – right from the off we were at our opponents, Anderson burst forward after Blackstock had found him with a decent pass, he looked to have done everything right to find Garner, who was surely just about to celebrate only to see Lee Grant pull off an impressive save.
There wasn’t long to wait for the celebrations, though – again Anderson the provider, crossing in this time to Dexter Blackstock who evaded the offside trap with a cleverly timed run in order to meet the cross with his head to put the ball in the net with the Wednesday defence static and looking for an offside decision (which, in fairness, I have no way of knowing from where I was sitting!).
Tudgay had a half-chance-shot-type-thing which looped up and almost over Lee Camp, who was alert enough to palm it over for a corner. Aside from a lot of lobbed balls forward the Owls didn’t really threaten that much – and Forest should really really have capitalised. Blackstock again found Anderson who rushed forward again, eventually pulling the ball back to Dexter who somehow contrived to miss the target when a goal looked certain.
Wes and Chambers were looking solid in defence, particularly the former who was characteristically blocking and tackling everything that moved – unfortunately that included a shot from Tudgay which was powerful but straight at Camp until it took a weighty deflection off Wes to bounce into the net – bloody deflected goals! The Owls had their tails up now, and Jermaine Johnson’s poor finishing ensured we went into the half time break still level.
Mostly I was pleased at half time – things that irked were how deep we had started to sit which practically invited the equaliser, and I don’t like to see us time-wasting – Lee Camp was perhaps the most obvious culprit of this, but time-wasting in the middle of the first half? What’s all that about? Also the referee showed early signs of what an idiot he was – increasingly the second half would be basically him whistling mostly for no good reason.
With this in mind, the booked Joe Garner was withdrawn at half time through fear of (a) him starting a scrap with anybody near him or (b) the referee deciding he had and booking him anyway. Garath McCleary replaced him which was seen as a positive move by most around me – a bit of pace and attack-mindedness could be just what the game ordered.
The second half was a much scrappier affair. Wednesday knocked the ball around well in midfield but tended to go for chipped lobs over the top in order to start their attacks. Forest for their part looked like they’d relaxed a bit too much on their break and had forgotten how to trap, control or pass a ball. Cohen and McKenna in particular were particularly poor with the ball.
Anderson continued to be our most dangerous outlet, bursting down the left and crossing dangerously – but alas, no Forest players could quite get on the end of it. Shortly after this more good work from the young winger saw the ball end up with Blackstock who couldn’t quite get his shot on target. At the other end Wes put in a great interception to stop Buxton having a shot.
What should have been Anderson’s crowning glory in a good game for the Reds became Lee Grant’s. He unleashed an excellent dipping shot from around twenty yards, but the Owls ‘keeper was equal to the challenge and tipped it over. In the meantime Adebola had come on for McGoldrick and Lewis for Blackstock. Lewis sporting a transparent ‘Phantom of the Opera’ style mask.
The last attacking action for the Reds was via Gunter bursting down the right with impressive athleticism given the lateness of the game – he took it to the goal line and put a powerful ball into the near post where Adebola was lurking, but Lee Grant did very well to gather it and keep it safe. The final dangerous chance would be for the home side, though.
A freekick was given by the referee – who really was an over-fussy arsehole – on the very edge of the D, despite tension in the stands it was spannered well over by Darren Potter. Still, a good point against a decent side – and the lads were rightly applauded off the pitch warmly by the large Forest away following.
Whilst I think we had the best chances, a draw is a fair result on balance of play. The home side had a lot of possession and knocked it around nicely in midfield (which is something we really struggled with). Wes, Anderson and Blackstock all played very well today. As noted above, Cohen and McKenna both had off-days which would explain our problems in midfield!
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