POST MATCH RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- Bournemouth

POST MATCH RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- Bournemouth

A lot has changed at S6 since I last did ramble duty back in mid-September when the Owls were held by ten man Yeovil Town.

I like to think we’ve progressed since then now Dave Jones has departed, with Stuart Gray seemingly injecting a bit more of a competitive spirit in the side, something that seriously lacked under DJ.

In our past three games, prior to the Wigan abandonment and the visit of Bournemouth, we looked as though we could give a good game to anyone with 100% being given by each individual in blue and white, all a Wednesdayite asks for. With ‘super’ Connor Wickham in hot form and loanee Damien Martinez picking up the side’s first clean sheet of the season away at Vicarage Road last Saturday, the light at the end of the never-ending Wednesday tunnel was suddenly becoming remarkably brighter.

Going into the Wigan and Bournemouth games it looked as though a couple of good results would secure Gray a full time role at the Owls helm until at least the end of the season with Milan Mandaric seemingly looking to recruit on the cheap. However, the first half on Wednesday night under the Hillsborough floodlights couldn’t have gone much worse for Gray with the Latics in complete control and firmly on the front foot with young Premier League prospects James McClean and Nick Powell looking particularly sharp in Uwe Rosler’s first away game in charge of the Lancashire outfit.

Fortunately, lady luck graced us just as we needed it with Keith Stroud calling it a day on the hour mark due to the somewhat torrential Steel City rain. We’d no doubt been granted a ‘get out of jail card’ as Wigan ran us ragged in a relentless first half for the visitors.

So on to Saturday and the hosting of a Bournemouth side that, before kick-off, were hovering just five points above the Championship trap door following a poor recent run of just one win since early October making the quest for the three points just as vital for both sides. Likewise with the Wigan game, Stuart Gray again found himself having to make a number of changes to the starting eleven with Connor Wickham and Glenn Loovens both injured whilst Seyi Olifinjana was dropped alongside Jeremy Helan onto the Wednesday bench.

Llera Pointing

Which way did he go?

Replacing them were: Atdhe Nuhiu, who has hardly made a significant impact since signing on the dotted line in the summer with just two goals to his name in Owls colours; Miguel Llera who’s quality in performances seem to decrease game by game with him looking as though he hasn’t quite made the step up to Championship football but being in and out of the team has hardly helped; Giles Coke, a man who I believe was a standout candidate for man of the match against Leicester and someone who we have greatly missed in the engine room as he seems to offer more creativity than the Semedo/Olifinjana partnership; lastly Jermaine Johnson was introduced to the line-up following his impact in Wednesday night’s monsoon, as ever it was anyone’s guess what to expect from him.

In all fairness the Owls looked alert and bright in the opening exchanges, looking to take advantage of the Cherries’ leaky defence, however, it was Eddie Howe’s men that struck first blood as Matt Ritchie cut into space from the right hand side and shot into the near corner with Martinez unable to meet it with a strong enough hand. From then on in heads dropped.

The Kop’s frustration was evident as time and again the Bournemouth attackers found themselves in too much space for Wednesday’s liking but Gray’s side weren’t quick enough to close them down and Andrew Surman almost punished us again as his sweet left footed strike was headed into the bottom corner if it wasn’t for Martinez who this time met the ball with an efficient hand.

Reda Scores

An education for a poor Reda

The visitor’s top scorer Lewis Grabban was finding a lot of joy in behind the Wednesday backline with Reda Johnson and Llera particularly exposed by the former Rotherham frontman’s pace. Another long ball by the Cherries was poorly read by the aforementioned Llera who again was caught out by the sharpness of Grabban who, on the angle, fired past Martinez with purpose and vigour seemingly right through the Owl’s loanee shot stopper.

2-0 within the first quarter of the contest and the boys in blue and white had built themselves what was looking an especially daunting mountain to climb.

We were certainly missing the quality of Connor Wickham. Fair enough, he wouldn’t have prevented the two goals perhaps but it’s been a factor in our recent games that the Sunderland man holds the ball up whilst giving those around him a quick breather and Wickham can take more than a few touches and still maintain retention of the ball due to his undoubted ability. Having Nuhiu upfront, however, prevented the opportunity for those around him to have a quick moment to catch up with the speed of play as the big Austrian prefers to release the ball after two or three touches. This perhaps caught up on the likes of Giles Coke who had just come back from injury and had to support the frontman whilst the former’s energy levels weren’t up to maximum speed. JJ and Jacques Maghoma also needed to support Nuhiu which meant that they weren’t able to get back quickly enough and in Maghoma’s case, help out what was a struggling Reda.

Second half and Bournemouth let us on to them but our lack of a ruthless edge meant we had nothing to show for our second half possession as our deliveries into the box found a Cherries’ head nine times out of ten.

Maghoma

Maghoma: First goal not enough

We did muster up a break, though, nine minutes from time as Lee Camp, who had barely been troubled all afternoon, flapped at a high hanging Joe Mattock delivery with the ball dropping kindly for Maghoma to stretch and score inside the six yard box for his first Wednesday goal.

We were unable in the end to make the most of our late rally, such as it was and the players were greeted with the sound I’d hoped had left with Jones out of the S6 door. The familiar boos that surely has all but ended Gray’s hopes of claiming the job on a permanent basis. Anything but a win on Boxing Day may be curtains for the former Northampton manager, if not I seriously would begin to question the ambition of Mr Mandaric.

So it’ll be a hard task swallowing that Christmas turkey on Wednesday afternoon seeing us beneath that dreaded dotted line and two points adrift of the pack we are momentarily hopelessly chasing.

Hope my unquestionable positivity hasn’t put too much of a downer on your festive spirit but nonetheless Merry Christmas and try and keep the faith, UTO!
Badge Owl POST
Jonathan

Owls Alive
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TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @JonOwlzz


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