POST MATCH RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- Derby County

POST MATCH RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- Derby County

After the excitement of last weekend’s FA Cup action – despite the Owls’ postponement – Tuesday night saw a return to league action for Stuart Gray’s men.

Derby County are the proverbial bogey-side for Wednesday; this thought – twinned with the barrage of texts and tweets from Rams fans – wasn’t exactly filling me with hope.

A little episode at the Napoleons car park only added to this: as I jump out the car and ready my scarf and coat, I hear a shout, ‘HUUUUUGH’ from some crackpot driving towards the entrance. Bugger it, it’s my old boss – a massive Derby fan.

For chuff’s sake, I mutter to myself. He ends up parking next to us and he leaps out the car with his kids who are all giving it the big’un:

“Derby this, Derby that, Will Hughes this, Bamford that.”

We end up walking down together and in amongst the polite ‘family alright?’ and ‘how’s work?’ I can’t help but mull over that sinking feeling.

“Through this gate, down under the stand, turn right. Hope your night is miserable!” My Grandad and I leave our companions and head through the North turnstiles and meet those who sit around us, who are naturally chatting about the FA Cup, Wembley (to my shudders), United and Charlton.

I’m watching a few blokes tie that huge Derby flag up on the Leppings Lane stand and contemplate tonight’s task. Coke, Loovens, Best and Gardner all came in to start the game – all positive steps for me.

We were going to need Coke’s energy in midfield if we were going to nullify the threat of Hughes, Bamford and Jamie W**d. Loovens has been outstanding since joining the club, Leon Best returns to expectation after decent loan spells in the past, and Gardner comes highly recommended.

Despite looking like a 4-5-1 (which in reality became a 4-2-3-1), this looked a good line-up and my spirits were lifted somewhat.

THE MATCH

It’s fair to say, despite Derby’s obvious class on the ball, that Wednesday had most of the running in this one. We started very brightly, Antonio had Norman (Andre Wisdom) on toast down their right hand side, Maguire and Palmer were up to their usual tricks on our right, and our general play was quite pleasing on the eye.

A succession of corners came our way, from which we created our best opening of the game. Maguire’s delivery was largely excellent and it was Glenn Loovens who rose tallest on this occasion, directing his header towards goal…

BLOCKED! I think it was cleared by Jake Buxton who was monumental in Derby’s back four. He’s a proper old school defender, who simply loves heading the ball,

LOOVENS

GLOOVENS

tackling, putting his body on the line and his opponents to the ground.

This chance aside, there was little more footballing drama to talk of during the first period. Other incidents of note include Jamie W**d acting the pantomime villain just in front of us, applauding the North Stand as all manner of vitriol was directed towards him. The little so-and-so, I wanted nothing more than Palmer or Coke to stick him on his arse.

Sadly Kieran Lee, perhaps our stand-out player under the Gray tenure was to depart early, appearing to have injured his hamstring. Let’s hope it’s not too bad. Early indications have shown that the injury is not a torn muscle. Every cloud…

HT – OWLS 0-0 DERBY

A half of limited chances, then. Jeremy Helan came on to replace Lee at the tail end of the first half, but with Mr Bond blowing up soon after, it felt like a new introduction at the start of the second. W**d was rattled too and replaced by Jonny Russell; to a mixture of personal delight and disappointment, at least he couldn’t score now but I was holding out for that clattering from one of our lads.

Wednesday continued to build pressure with the lively Leon Best running the channels well; he was doing the lone-striker job quite well and always provided an option. This game showed many that 4-5-1, or it’s variants, isn’t necessarily a defensive system.

Antonio New

Best player on the pitch?

Antonio was our liveliest player and was now on at both Derby full-backs as well as going through the middle. A trio of efforts across the second half gave Lee Grant a bit of work to do in the Kop goal: first as Antonio danced past Hughes and sent a low drive towards the bottom corner; secondly a snap-shot volley on the turn was parried away, and thirdly Antonio ran across the edge of the box before firing one with his left foot.

Encouraging. Derby continued to soak up the pressure as Wednesday continued to apply it. We did suffer a lack of cutting edge however, be it the final ball or shooting when passing was the better option.

With 20 to go, Afobe came on to replace Best who received a good ovation on his return, while another new lad, Sam Hutchinson replaced Gardner in midfield. The Villa loanee showed some good touches in midfield but was slightly lost in the first half, playing as the central cog in an attacking three, just behind best. Perhaps, with Lee out, this weekend may see him drop to a deeper position.

Hutchinson showed promise in his short spell, enough for a couple of local hacks to suggest he instead could be the answer to the Semedo/Lee question. He was tenacious without the ball and used it intelligently when it came to him. His performance was reminiscent of the better qualities of his midfield partner, Giles Coke.

REF WATCH: Mr Bond was starting to get on the nerves of many in blue-and-white, and with good reason. It’s these performances which are frustrating but, upon reflection, it’s difficult to understand why – it wasn’t as if there was a blatant penalty or obvious card; but a series of petty decisions that really interrupted Wednesday’s flow.

Sniper Derby

Derby payer down again

A sniper in the crowd felled Bamford in front of us, Hutchinson was booked for an exquisite slide tackle on Russell, but the worst by far was what was deemed a foul by Giles Coke on Jake Buxton, who simply fell over after surprising everyone with a fancy-Dan turn. I, like most, was apoplectic here.

Here comes the sucker-punch. I knew it was coming all day. The texts from mates, meeting my old boss, how we’d not managed to score…

It was a wonderful strike from Patrick Bamford and I’m sure he meant it. It arrowed into the top corner and left Chris Kirkland with no chance. Pandemonium in the away end, Derby fans bouncing – yes, nicking our ‘If you don’t bounce’ too, might I add! Our players just looked dejected.

We flattered to deceive in the end, failing to create anything *really* clear-cut. It was the perfect away performance from Derby, putting everything on the line at the back, and holding out well in the hope that something might fall for you up front.

FULL TIME – OWLS 0-1 DERBY

Ah well. A good performance and an unfortunate result. We all saw why Derby were promotion candidates, but also how Stuart Gray has formed a competitive, talented side out of car-crash he inherited.

The new lads, all three had good debuts, while Loovens, Coke, Antonio and both full-backs all had good games. Not one player could really be singled out for criticism.

I get the feeling everyone is waiting for Monday night. It’s quite simply the biggest game at Hillsborough for years. A chance to meet United with Wembley on the line. A day which doesn’t come round very often. The reason for which we support our clubs. Let’s get plenty down to Hillsborough and make sure the historic day doesn’t become a dream.

But first, Huddersfield. Another bogey side. Great. However, despite the result against Derby, the performance showed me that we can go there and get something.

Let’s make it a good week for Wednesday.

Up the Owls.

Hugh
Twitter: @Owlsalive & @hugh_wragg
E-MAIL: admin@owlsalive.com


2 Comments

  1. Just so you know theres a video of the Buxton ‘non foul’ which shows it was 100% a free kick, ref was as bad for Derby as he was for Wednesday

    • Really Andrew?! He does well to turn out of the initial challenge but Giles Coke clearly prods the ball away from him before he goes to ground.

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