POST MATCH RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- Middlesbrough

POST MATCH RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- Middlesbrough

It’s hardly surprising that no one fancied doing this ramble when you look at what most fans would be expecting…from both sides of the fence.

The Boro fans haven’t seen their team score since the old king died and after losing out in the cup to the worst team in existence, Wednesday fans are feeling a little deflated and firmly of the belief that our season is well and truly over.

Despite there being two months of the season to go it all had an end of season air about it.

Even the odd controversial incident and emotional moment, plus the mystery that is Andy D’Urso as the man in charge, couldn’t really steer any of us away from that dull, lifeless, achingly tedious feeling….but I’m getting ahead of myself…I’m way too giddy…let’s calm down a bit and start at the beginning…

THE MATCH

To be fair, the Boro fans started the game really well and were up for it from the off, very quickly into their stride and belting out a great rendition of ‘WE ONLY WANT ONE GOAL’.

As if by magic their team responded quite well with a shot in the opening minutes that, fortunately for us, went straight at Kirkland.

Not exactly what they wanted but a sign of intent surely?

A few minutes later and there were anxious faces in the Wednesday half and confused, bothered and bewildered faces in the Boro camp…Huh

Jacob Butterfield…or as Judd used to call him on Radio Sheffield when he was at Barnsley…Jacob Butterkist…leathers the ball towards goal and clearly thought he’d done enough to set Boro on their way to an early lead and send the battle-weary traveling fans into delirium at seeing a goal…

He catches the ball really well, just outside the box, leathers it well….it beats Kirkers all hands up and rattles the inside of the left post….

Every pair of Wednesday eyebrows are a foot above where they should be…

The ball bounces off the post and behind Kirkland…across the line…

We hold our breath…

It continues across to hit the other post…

Our eyebrows inch up a little higher…we daren’t breathe…

You could probably hear a pin drop at that moment as everyone in the ground waited for the ball to go over the line…

No one knew whether to watch the ball or the linesman…

When the ball comes off the second post and makes its merry way back from whence it came, it goes straight into the grateful arms of Kirkland and our eyebrows are outta there…but at least we dare to breathe…

Of course the Boro players went nuts…the Boro fans didn’t know what to do…the players thought they’d scored but the linesman was having none of it, shaking his head and giving no indication with his flag…

We stared at the ball safely tucked away in Kirkland’s arms…

We looked at the linesman, now taking a barrage of pleading questions from the Boro players…

We looked at each other….we shrugged at each other…and still our eyebrows were nowhere to be seen.

My honest opinion at the time was that the ball hadn’t gone over the line.

Having seen a few replays from dodgy angles, nothing has changed my mind.

All around us folk were getting texts…’My mate in the South says it was a foot over the line’….’My mate in the North says it was a yard over the line’…

Just text ’em back and tell ’em their mate in the Kop says it wasn’t over the line at all and more importantly neither do any of the officials….

Play continued but if we’re honest here, fans were still talking about that incident for quite a while and with little else on the pitch to distract them that wasn’t going to change anytime soon…and the game descended into that aforementioned dull depression.

It was so flat…both sets of fans had stopped singing, such as it was from our end and the atmosphere matched the football on display…as dreary as chuff.

The only bright moments from our point of view were when Maghoma demonstrated that he was now breaking in a new pair of boots for JJ and, after doing a nice bit of work, JJ’ed the ball as far wide of the goal as it’s possible to get it without it going out for a throw in.

Oh, and a lovely moment from Liam Palmer as he delivered one of his now trademark cross-field passes and dropped it on a tanner…obviously we didn’t make good use of that wonderful cross but it was still a piece of sublime skill from the youngster.

So skilled in fact that it drew admiring applause not only from the Wednesday fans but our manager too.

Liam Palmer 01

Talented lad

But with half an hour gone that was about the best we could muster…oh hang on…

Palmer goes on the overlap…he whips yet another outstanding ball right into the heart of the danger zone and there’s Leon Best to scoooore…we get to our feet to celebrate….

..and promptly sit back down again as everyone realises at the same time that our loanee striker has put what seemed a glorious chance  just wide of the post…

HARRUMPH!

Our eyebrows return…and immediately set into frown mode..

Our passing, not for the first time recently is atrocious and I’m not talking about the Hollywood balls that Liam Palmer delivers on a regular basis but our basic bread and butter stuff…passes short of 10 yards.

Chuff me, at times passes short of a yard…it’s annoying and needless and painful that we can’t find our own players with short passes and give the ball away far too cheaply, of course putting ourselves on the back foot every time we do so…

Fortunately for us our defence were once again magnificent and the two centre halves in particular…where has Gloovens been all our lives? DON’T ANSWER THAT!

I know where he’s been…he’s been off gallivanting, playing for a few pub teams and swanning around Europe but we’re fine now…he’s eventually made his way to us and let’s hope he sees his career out here.

Alongside Gooch we look very steady and safe at the back and with Kirkand behind them pair that’s as good as we’ve been in quite a long time.

With the half coming to a close we did pick up a little and at least showed some semblance of vitality about us, however brief that was and just before the half was up we were on our feet again and this time the collective shout was PELANTY!

Andy D'Urso

Andy W’Urso

As clear a push as you’ll see in the Boro box but the ref and linesman were having none of it and it was our turn to get a bit irate at the injustice of it all.

And then it was almost like every single Wednesday fan suddenly realised who the ref was and there was a shrug of resignation as it registered in our minds, just as it must have done with the Boro fans earlier…

We’d been D’Urso’d…

As footy fans the world over know, when Andy D’Urso (Or as the Young Un called him, Andy Wurso) is the ref you’re onto a loser straight away.

He did get the whistle right and blew to bring the first half to a close and despite the odd moment, most of us were grateful for the break.

Just as a side note, Mattock went off just before the break to be replaced by Helan…it must have been for an injury as I can’t believe Gray couldn’t wait til half time to make a tactical change, though to be fair I didn’t notice Mattock carrying any knock or injury.

Badge Owl POST

When they came out for the second half it wasn’t exactly a case of ‘UP AND AT EM!’ but we did show a little more attacking drive than we’d shown first half, though it would have been difficult to have done worse to be fair.

In the first few minutes we kept possession well and we inched our way forward, much to the chagrin of our fans who were getting more impatient by the minute and not at all happy with the sideways movement…they wanted more forward momentum and they wanted it NOW!

And to their credit, the players did that but our shooting was from distance, albeit it reasonable shooting this time and not quite as wayward as we’ve become accustomed to.

First up was Maguire, who fired a free kick just over the bar from around the 20-yard mark.

Even Gloovens was in shooting mode now but he saw his shot from a difficult angle saved…

Sam Hutchinson 01

Tipped over

A few minutes later, not to be outdone, Sam Hutchinson rifled one at goal from 30 yards and this shot had goal written all over…the fans behind the Kop rose more and more as the ball sped towards the net…unfortunately the Boro keeper realised that too and just managed to tip it over the bar for a corner.

OOOOOH! We cried as one and held our heads in our hands…that was close…

Just to show we weren’t totally reformed this half, we got ourselves into another cracking position only for Maghoma to waste the opportunity with yet another poor shot, once again as wide as ya like and as high as like…it really was a poor effort and what’s more, from being in a reasonable attacking position we found ourselves on the back foot when it seemed as though we were just starting to get a grip of the game…

Boro were through on our goal with just Kirkland to beat…

I say ‘just’ Kirkland to beat but that’s no easy feat in itself…he might not be the best when it comes to stopping pelanties but the lad is outstanding when it comes to one-on-one situations and I’m quickly losing count of the number of times he’s saved us in those positions.

He was quick as ya like off his line and ready for the lad…the Boro player steadies himself and looks to place it wide of Kirkland …Kirkers gets a hand to it but it drops at the feet of a back up Boro player…don’t worry, quicker than ya like this time Kirkland is back on his feet just in time for the incoming shot and he pushes it over the bar.

He’d not been called into action too much in this game for the best part of an hour and this was great keeping to be so aware, so alert and quick-witted to make a belting double save like that.

It was clear to everyone…if it wasn’t clear before…this wasn’t gonna be Boro’s day.

JJ a1

A lift

It was shortly after this opportunity for Boro that Stuart Gray had seen enough of Maghoma for this game and pulled him off (Fnar!) – replacing him with his mentor and shooting boots supplier JJ.

To be fair to JJ he did give us a lift, as he often does when he comes on late in the game and we looked to have another gear all of a sudden.

He was full of it too, running at the Boro defence and we’d noticed just before he came on that Lee Bullen had taken him aside and sat on the advertising hoardings where they warm up, talking through a few tactics with him, explaining to him, before he went on, what he wanted him to do…

All well and good, but would he listen?

He did…

Instead of trying to beat everyone before losing the ball needlessly, he made himself aware of his teammates and looked for options instead of blindly running down every cul-de-sac in Sheffield….it was good to see.

As we started to exert a little pressure, Gray withdrew Maguire and replaced him with the boo-boys’ favourite target Atdhe Nuhiu.

The Young Un was quick to make a very shrewd observation…she noted that whenever Maguire or Maghoma had a stinker of a game – and there have been plenty to go at – the fans always, without fail, gave them a standing ovation but no matter what Nuhiu does he always gets dogs abuse…where’s the fairness in that then?

NUHIU

NUHIU

Anyway, on came the big fella…and no matter what the majority of our fans think, he will always have at least a couple of us willing him on and fighting his corner.

With the big man coming on and going up front, young Lavery was pushed out wide and, despite liking the lad when he plays up front, he’s no mug when on the wing either…in fact he’s no mug full stop.

There is so much to like about Lavery. His application, his workrate, his vitality and spark…it really is refreshing to see one of our own making his mark and starting to grow whilst still at the club.

He’d already been growing in confidence this half and shuffling out wide he looked even better and if possible even more up for the task ahead, albeit with only 20 minutes left of the game.

Almost straight away Nuhiu is in the thick of it and showing what a lot of fans refuse to see, his great strength with the ball at his feet…here he is with two…make that three…Boro players hanging off him, pulling every way they can and the lad still has the ball glued to his feet and what’s more makes a good pass straight to one of his team mates…a task that seemed beyond us for long spells in the first half.

Moments later, and again surrounded by the opposition, he sees his teammate on the overlap and backheels it straight into his path…

Not behind him…not short…not heavy…straight into his path and he doesn’t have to break stride…what’s more the cheeky chuffin Wednesday fans gasp in amazement!

He does this stuff all the time!

The subs were good decisions by our manager and as the game wore on we started to really get going.

Helan may have been a forced substitution just before half time but he was causing problems for Boro too and all over the pitch our players looked to be gaining a bit of confidence and belief that we could steal this game in the closing minutes…

As we entered the last few minutes, the Boro fans, despite regaining their voices, seemed resigned to going yet another game without scoring but you could feel the edginess in the home fans now….almost like we knew the game was there for the taking and our players were now actually trying to do just that…but would there be enough time on the clock for us to finish the job? So it was strange old atmosphere as we entered the last five minutes or so…

That changed very quickly.

We were attacking…we had a million players in the Boro box…they had a million and one…

Sam Hutchinson delivers a lovely ball that eventually falls at the feet of Leon Best who prods it home…

We’re on our feet…

That’s in is that chuffer…

WOAH!

HANDBALL!!!!

Obviously we weren’t expecting for one moment to get the thing given…

SWEET BABY JEEBERS ON A BIKE!

The eyebrows were off again…hang on…did they come back down from the last time?

Anyway…our eyebrows were off again as we realised the lino was flagging his little socks off.

eyebrows up

EEEEK!

And when he put his likkle flag across his likkle chest all proud and wotnot it was a wonderful sight…we’d not only been given a handball decision but a pelanty as well….

It was a clear handball…we all saw it clear as ya like but we haven’t had a pelanty or handball decision go our way since Sooty and Sweep were primetime viewing so it takes a while not only to understand we’ve got it but to actually recognise the decision and what the ref pointing to the spot means…it’s all new to us.

What a day…what a day…what a….OH CHUFF!

Nuhiu had the ball.

Not only did he have the ball, he was adamant that no-one else was having it and he clutched it tightly to his chest.

Some of our players didn’t look impressed at all about this and JJ and Coke made signals to the bench appearing to say, ‘He won’t let us have it boss…tell him’.

Meanwhile, as our favourite strangely-named player concentrated on the task at hand, it was absolutely fantastic to see Glenn Loovens stopping the Boro players from psyching him out and getting in his head…

Try as they might to get near him and put him off, not only was he not listening but Gloovens was blocking them off, ushering them away, redirecting them and it was just brilliant to see.

Me and the Young Un looked at each other…anguish strewn across our faces…

This was our man…we loved him and I love pelanties but this wasn’t about the pelanty…about scoring and not scoring…

This was about Nuhiu and his relationship with a large section of our fans and you could feel the collective cringe at the prospect of him taking this spot kick and, I swear to you now, some will have had their ‘YOU BIG USELESS TOSSER’ taunts loaded and ready to fire.

This wasn’t a make or break moment for the fella…this was a break or break moment.

Score and ‘so what?’

But miss and that’s it…there is no way back with those fans for him…ever.

I had butterflies…I was genuinely worried for the lad…and it was for him…I didn’t really give a monkeys about the score if I’m honest.

The game hadn’t been a thrill ride and Boro probably didn’t deserve to lose in fairness.

The points were probably worthless as we were ‘almost’ safe from relegation but this was one man’s soul on the line…his Sheffield Wednesday future…his love-hate relationship with his own fans…

I felt sick…

Both me and the Young Un were muttering…

Come on Nuhiu…Come on Nuhiu…

Come on son…do it…

When he stepped forward I held my breath and I winced….before going absolutely nuts…

Again…it meant nowt really the goal in the grand scheme of things but this was personal…

It meant so much for Nuhiu and it became even more personal when he came over in front of us to celebrate, removed his shirt and pointed to the message underneath…

Nuhiu Shirt 01

A lovely moment

’YOU WILL ALWAYS BE IN MY HEART XH. NUHIU.’

Obviously a deeply personal message for him and he was lost in the moment, stopping a few times to compose himself before dropping to his knees, crossing himself and offering a kiss and soft words to the heavens….

The players knew what it meant to him, they celebrated with him but left him for a moment with his thoughts…it really was lovely to see to be honest and what a moment for the fella.

With only a few minutes plus injury time to go there was no way back for Boro and we saw the game out…

For the most part it had indeed been a dull affair spiked by the odd incredible moment and for once…Andy D’Urso wasn’t the bad guy at Hillsborough.

I felt it for the Boro fans…we’ve all been there.

Following ya team through thick and thin and going on one of those long runs in search of a goal is always a bind…

It doesn’t seem that long ago we travelled 2,500 miles between a pair of Wednesday goals and that was hard work too so we all know how they feel…

It’ll end soon enough and they’ll be back in the right direction before they know it…and once again I’ll look forward to visiting their place next season.

Steve:Beastie
Twitter: @Owlsalive & @beastie_
E-MAIL: admin@owlsalive.com


2 Comments

  1. I was very happy for Nuhiu. He’s got three fans in the South too.

    Can’t fault his commitment and workrate. His first touch and general control is great.

    He isn’t the quickest, but I think some conditioning work in the off season and we’ll be looking at a new player.

  2. He does cause defences problems and other players should be taking advantage of this. If only he could finish we would have a player of considerable value. Perhaps Deehan can work on his finishing in the close season.

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