PREVIEW | Play-off semi-final, first leg

PREVIEW | Play-off semi-final, first leg

Here we are again. The play-offs are upon us.

The scrap for tickets is over – thank god – and now we can finally focus on the football: *gulps*

Wednesday’s winning run was enough to secure fourth place: for me, the best position to be.

Carvalhal’s side have avoided Fulham in the semis and, most importantly, secured a home second leg.

That means we first travel to Huddersfield’s Kirklees/McAlpine/Galpharm/John Smith’s Stadium to play David Wagner’s Terriers.

Wednesday completed a league double over the Terriers but, as Wednesday learnt last season: league form has little bearing on the knockout fun that follows.

 

 

Last game Opposition Result Shots On target Corners Cards Fouls Possession
WEDNESDAY Fulham (H) L 2-1 7 2 2 1 9 31%
HUDDERSFIELD Cardiff (H) L 3-0 7 2 2 1 10 36%

Wednesday played out what was more or less a dead rubber and like the last game of the 2015/16 season CC made 10 changes to the line up against Fulham.

Sam Winnall opened the scoring but once Fulham levelled and Marcos Matias got sent off, the Owls were always up against it, Fulham had to wait until the 79th minute to breach the Owls defence again but Wednesday truthfully never looked like making it 2-2.

 

Huddersfield ended the regular season with defeat. Danny Ward’s sending off hardly helped matters but they were already 1-0 down when the goalkeeper was dismissed.

Ex-Wednesday loanee Joe Bennett netted a brace as Neil Warnock’s men ended a disappointing season by conquering the Terriers.

LAST 6 Fulham (H) Ipswich (A) Derby (H) QPR (A) Cardiff (H) Newcastle (H)
WEDNESDAY L 2-1 W 1-0 W 2-1 W 2-1 W 1-0 W 2-1
 LAST 6 Cardiff (H) Birmingham (A) Wolves (A) Fulham (H) Derby (A) Preston (H)
HUDDERSFIELD  L 3-0 L 2-0 W 1-0 L 4-1 D 1-1 W 3-2

Wednesday were at one point the ones tipped to fall out of the top six at the expense of Fulham’s late surge but an upturn in our own form and Leeds falling apart made sure we finished 4th with 7 more points, 6 fewer goals for and exactly the same amount as goals against compared to last season.

The Owls managed to increase the amount of points on the road with 34 points on their travels compared to 27 in 2015/16 whilst netting the same amount of points as they did at S6 in the previous campaign.

Huddersfield, despite a late stutter have had a season to be proud of, some comparisons can be made to Wednesday and their 2015/16 campaign and it was done on a far more modest budget, David Wagner’s philosophy took a little time to come in but new signings in the summer and that knack of coming out on the right end of tight games has made the Terriers this year’s surprise package jumping 14 places and gaining 30 more points than they did in 2015/16.

Their home and away haul of points matches Wednesday but the Owls’ far superior goal difference gave them 4th place over the Terriers.

HEAD 2 HEAD WEDNESDAY WINS HUDDERSFIELD WINS DRAWS
  20 24 12


LAST MEETING

Wednesday 2-0 Huddersfield Town

14 January 2017, Hillsborough, Att: 28,173

(R.Wallace 54′, F.Forestieri 90+)

Wednesday completed a double over Huddersfield back in January, a tight affair in the first half, a Ross Wallace thunderbastard opened the scoring with Forestieri capitalising on good work from Callum McManaman to seal the points late on.

Wednesday have never encountered Huddersfield in the playoffs but Huddersfield do have previous success over the city of Sheffield in the post season campaign, this victory was to the delight of Owls however as Huddersfield held their nerve where Steve Simonsen didn’t in the 2012 League One play off Final.

CARVALHAL’S COHORTS

Carlos rang the changes last time out and he plays his cards close to his chest when it comes to revealing his team but he’ll likely know his ideal XI.

Marcos Matias is suspended but his role was at best going to be a cameo from the bench, all the regulars should return but Gary Hooper is doubtful.

Huddersfield goalkeeper Danny Ward is suspended so Joel Coleman will replace him.

WESTWOOD

HUNT

LEES

LOOVENS

PUDIL

WALLACE

HUTCHINSON

LEE

REACH

FORESTIERI

RHODES

KEY PLAYERS

KIERAN LEE – Players have come here for a lot of money but you could argue the core of the team was formed before Carlos Carvalhal’s arrival at S6, Keiren Westwood, Glenn Loovens, Tom Lees and Kieran Lee all came as bargain basement signings, all have gone on to be integral parts of the Owls make-up.

Kieran Lee was signed in the summer of 2012 from Oldham Athletic and had played as right back for the Latics, Dave Jones converted him to the centre of midfield and under the guidance of successive managers and coaches, the former Manchester United man has just got better and better to the point where his absence from the team was felt when the Owls stuttered.

I wouldn’t say he’s an unsung hero as the Owls fans know how valuable he is to the team but he does a lot of the little unnoticed things so,so well and has that knack of making those around him better. His knack of ghosting into the area and scoring is something that has improved in the last few seasons too. A potential clash with Aaron Mooy in a maelstrom of midfield maestros could be key to this game.

AARON MOOY – The Manchester City loanee has been a revelation in the Huddersfield midfield this season, the Aussie’s hard tackling style and his exceptional box to box play and poise has given the Terriers centre a toughness they’ve perhaps lacked in recent times.

Whoscored has listed him as someone who can do the short and simple unfussy stuff mixed with key passes and good running.

THE BETTING BOX: 5 OF THE BEST

BET Wednesday WIN Huddersfield WIN DRAW
BTTS Wallace FGS
BEST ODDS 9/4 6/4 9/4 21/20 18/1
BOOKIES 10Bet

DANNY’S VERDICT:

I’ve seen some Wednesday talk of Huddersfield’s stuttering finish and our double over them meaning we should go to Wembley.

That means absolutely nothing now.

The season’s been and gone and it’s boiled down to a Yorkshire derby for a chance to go to Wembley and get to the promised land of the Premier League.

This is the clash of the underdog with the country seemingly spaffing their load on the winner of the other semi final but to underestimate Huddersfield or Wednesday does both sides a disservice.

Carlos Carvalhal perfected his tactics in the two fixtures but it would be naive and daft to think that David Wagner hadn’t learned from his mistakes in those games and there wasn’t much difference between us. A penalty settled one game and a thunderbastard settled the other.

What I will say is this could be a tight game and one Huddersfield can’t really afford to lose in my mind. We can’t afford to go for the draw either, any sort of advantage we can take back to S6 with the roar of the Hillsborough faithful behind us could be priceless, in our previous play off campaigns we’ve always played at home first so it’ll be interesting to see our approach.

Mooy versus Lee in midfield is the key battle for me, whoever controls the midfield has the advantage.

VERDICT: It’ll be tight, my heart says we’ll take a precarious one goal advantage home with us, my head says 1-1

Danny
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: owlsalive@gmail.com
Twitter: @OwlsAlive and @MoseleyOwl

Images: SWFC, unless stated.


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