PREVIEW | Barnsley -v- Wednesday

PREVIEW | Barnsley -v- Wednesday

I’ll get straight to the point.

Days like Saturday are becoming far too frequent.

They’re becoming almost common enough to make me consider jacking it in.

I’m not bothered about supporting a football team that lacks quality and, to a certain degree with some individuals, and obvious desire to improve.

I’ve watched more than enough of that in my time to become accustomed.

But at no time in the past have I looked around Hillsborough and considered that I don’t feel like *you* (points at you, yeah, you) anymore.

The struggle to find any positivity in the support of your football team is galling. It becomes doubly frustrating when, as you try to search for positives, your fellow fans send ironic cheers the way of “England’s number one”.

What are these people doing? The same people that were up for lynching Adam Reach twelve months ago and now laud him as one of our best players.

The short-termism and fickle nature of football support has never surprised me; it should never surprise anyone. However, our two recent ‘successful’ seasons have now warped our collective understanding of reality to such a degree that we deem this – a dire run with fewer than half of a fit squad available – cause to send vitriolic abuse in the direction of young players.

In no way can this be okay.

Time to be more supportive

The potential for a poisonous atmosphere is always there at Hillsborough, just the same as it is at any football ground of a decent size, but not since the final days of Irvine have I had a greater desire to be literally anywhere else. I’d rather go to Meadowhall. On Christmas Eve.

That said, I was cheered slightly at the end of the game when a number of our players took the compassionate applause of the few hardy souls who were left. I hope what came before didn’t affect them too badly.

There are players who aren’t good enough to be in this side, never mind a first choice outfit. There are players who have their confidence shot. A couple fall into both categories.

Joe Wildsmith would run head first through one of his posts for this football club and had an excellent January. It was heartbreaking to read his body langauge towards the end of the first half and as the game finished.

Wildsmith: give him a big hand on Saturday

Federico Venancio – while not Paolo Maldini – is an able defender who has made a couple of mistakes. He wears his heart on his sleeve and, in short, I fucking love the guy.

It was inspiring to see Jordan Thorniley come on at the end and offer a loud voice: sometimes of encouragement, sometimes a rollocking or two. That he was more vocal in ten minutes than some of his colleagues had been over 90 spells trouble, however.

A word for Adam Reach. Exemplary.

There was a lot of shite on that field on Saturday. I think those responsible know it, don’t you?

Lambasting players online when they evidently aren’t to the technical standard required is hardly necessary.

Maybe a little encouragement, perhaps enabling those players to play towards the better of their abilities, would be more beneficial?

Wednesday need everyone on the same side over the next week. Looking ahead, a suddenly free-flowing Swansea are on their way to prove a point. Before that, the equally free-flowing Derby will have a go.

And up next, at Oakwell, in the S71 Football Association Challenge Cup Final, it’s Barnsley vs ‘That Club’.

Ah, the joys.

Yet again, there is a significant amount to lose in this fixture, and not a great deal to win. Victory for the home side, who are a point off the drop zone, would bring them to within one win of Wednesday.

Wednesday need points – and very quickly – in order to stave off the threat of an unthinkable relegation.

It’s difficult to see where those points are going to come from at present.

Is JL back at square one?

They certainly won’t come quickly if a certain proportion of our fans nestle themselves on the shoulders of our team, whispering quietly in their ear, “you’re not fit to wear the shirt”.

I think I can be fairly certain that those heading to Barnsley will be much more positive, much more vocal in their support. ‘Support’.

Be loud and be proud. They’ll need you.

 

 

It would be best to skirt over the Birmingham debacle, but for the sake of continuity, here are Saturday’s highlights:

  • I requested a chicken, ham and leek bake from the new Cornish pasty stand on the North Stand concourse;
  • I was told that they had sold out, and so picked lamb and mint instead;
  • after a couple of mouthfuls of pastry I discovered that I had, by some mistake and/or miracle, been given my first choice;
  • highlights end.

The first half was almost comically bad.

I couldn’t have felt more sorry for Joe Wildsmith, who had been so good in January.

His lack of communication with Venancio gifted Birmingham their first. Jacob Butterfield’s no-look pass across his own 18-yard line caused the second but Joe should have saved Jota’s shot.

The third was also terrible in isolation, a Birmingham player met his own flick-on and squared for Jota to poke home.

The display from the officials was appalling. I’m an ardent defender of referees, and despite the common argument that standards are dropping, the evidence points to the opposite. This is an excellent article on the subject.

That said, the combined call from referee and linesman to dismiss Marco Matias needs a serious review. Daniel Pudil was given two yellow cards for menial offences.

Positives? Adam Reach was excellent and Lucas Joao’s goal was lovely.

City go one up

Barnsley tied Paul Heckingbottom to a new contract on Friday and he departed for Leeds on Tuesday.

Lincoln boss Danny Cowley has been linked with the position but no moves have been made just yet.

Heckingbottom’s move up the M1 came as a result of his long term achievements at Barnsley, less so his recent results. After the sale of numerous talented players: Mawson, Holgate, Roberts, Bree, Winnall, Hourihane – the Reds and their model are recovering.

The current crop who Wednesday find themselves up against have lost four from five.

The most recent defeat came away to fellow strugglers QPR on Saturday. Another Oakwell graduate, Josh Scowen, predictably scored the only goal.

 

 

LAST 5 Birmingham (H) Boro (A) Reading (H) Cardiff (H) Carlisle (H)
WEDNESDAY L 1-3 D 0-0 W 3-1 D 0-0 W 2-0

 

LAST 5  QPR (A) Fulham (H) Villa (A) Wolves (H) Millwall (A)
BARNSLEY L 0-1 L 1-3 L 1-3 D 0-0 L 4-1

 

HEAD 2 HEAD WEDNESDAY WINS BARNSLEY WINS DRAWS
  35 22 15

 

 

LAST MEETING

 

Wednesday 1-1 Barnsley

28th October 2017, Hillsborough, Att: 27, 097

With the exception of Adam Reach, it is entirely feasible that the rest of the Wednesday side will be changed from the October draw.

Reach scored on that day, knocking the ball of his own ankle to spoon the ball over Adam Davies and in.

Reach ‘fires’ Wednesday ahead… (The Sun)

Kieran Lee had already hit the bar, and a delightful move involving Lee, Hooper and Bannan culminated in a chipped effort from the Scot that was cleared off the line.

Barnsley created little in the way of clear cut chances but took a share of the points following Harvey Barnes’ delightful turn and 25 yard finish.

You can read Joe’s ramble here. And he thought that was bad…

 

THE LUHUKAY STARS…

 

Jordan Thorniley could come in to replace Daniel Pudil (suspended) at centre-half, Freddie Nielsen is another option and could too be drafted in should Glenn Loovens be absent (ill).

Marco Matias has had his ban rescinded but has now picked up an injury and will be out for three weeks.

Tom Lees is on the verge of playing development squad matches, while Barry Bannan is a little further back.

Steven Fletcher will miss the rest of the season.

Tango is in line to start in midfield while Michael Vaughan and Jon McClure of Reverend and the Makers could make the bench.

WILDSMITH

VENANCIO

THORNILEY

NIELSEN

PALMER

WALLACE

PELUPESSY

REACH

FOX

NUHIU

JOAO

KEY PLAYERS

 

We can’t lose Reach

ADAM REACH – Again. Will probably captain the side should Loovens be absent.

Reach has the unfortunate job of organising a disparate and down-trodden side, a side who are fruitlessly adapting to a new system in which his position holds the key to moving from defence to attack.

I think we’d all agree that he’s not marked out for captaincy, and would be better left to his own devices, marauding up and down the pitch. Put simply, without Adam Reach at the moment, we’re in the soft and smelly.

TOM BRADSHAW – Eight goals this season but only one in the last eleven Championship games.

 

 

THE BETTING BOX: 5 OF THE BEST

 

BET Wednesday WIN Barnsley WIN DRAW
Draw/Draw Joao anytime
BEST ODDS 43/20 31/20 40/17 9/2 13/4
BOOKIES 188 Bet UniBet

HUGH’S VERDICT – Saturday’s defeat to Birmingham has brought the Luhukay reign back to square one.

Embarrassing home defeat, check. Mounting injuries, check. Slowly falling into the relegation black hole, check.

Wednesday have a fairly decent record against Barnsley and the home side themselves are on a terrible run.

Predictions are futile, the measure of this team is how they react to last week.

Hugh
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: owlsalive@gmail.com
Twitter: @OwlsAlive and @hugh_wragg

Images: SWFC, unless stated. Line up images: Getty.


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