POST MATCH RAMBLE: AFC Bournemouth -v- Wednesday

POST MATCH RAMBLE: AFC Bournemouth -v- Wednesday

Not that we’ve had much experience of this feeling, but the thing about meaningless end of season games when you’re floating into mid table is that they can go one of two ways.

They can be dull, slow, pre-season-like affairs.

Or they can be really enjoyable, relaxed and open. After 6 goals in each of our last two games it seemed Wednesday are more prone to the latter, and thankfully this was no different.

I’d arrived at the ground at just after 1.00 having driven down the winding roads from Bristol, where I am staying for the Easter weekend. I needed a quick getaway after the match so had parked in the perfect place to do so, and then wandered to the pub where it seemed all the Wednesdayites had gathered. Predictably it was a Wetherspoons. The perfect partnership of welcoming away fans and cheap beer means often the pre-match location in whichever town we are playing is one of J.D.’s hostelries. It all helps with the atmosphere.

Wednesday Fans Non Legend Shirts

Legends

It seemed a few Owls fans had taken advantage of the bank holiday trip to the seaside and made a weekend of it, so there was already a good buzz around when I arrived. One guy walked past me with a current season’s home shirt and “Rudi, 14” on his back. Odd choice, I thought. Then his mate joined him at the bar and he had “Jonk, 4” on his. “I assume you guys are on some sort of dare?” I said. “Yep there’s a whole load of us back there, we all had to bring a non-legend on our shirts.” I had a look over and sure enough there were more. One Blinker (a little harsh I thought) and another had Jeffers – although it was on the orange away shirt of the Jeffers era so he was the most shameful of the group as he’d clearly done it seriously at the time. The poor guy who got Beswetherick not only had the worst of the bad bunch, but also had to pay for all those letters. Jon Beswetherick: sh*t, AND expensive.

We were directed out of the pub by the bouncers and police to go down a certain way to the ground. “Turn left at the orange building and keep going” he said. Right.

Problem was, the first junction we got to had an orange building on it, and so did the second. “It must be this one” I confidently stated as a couple of other Owls were looking lost.

Off we went down the street and carried on chatting. After a few minutes I turned around and looked behind me.

We were being followed by about 40 or so Wednesdayites – I’d become the pied piper of Bournemouth. “I hope it’s the right way!” I joked, nervously, as I checked the map on my phone.

Sure enough, it was wrong – we needed to be on the next road down, meaning there was obviously an orange building on the third road too! “Don’t worry there’s an alley way, I can see it on this map” I said.

I looked around and couldn’t see the alley way.

“Never mind, we’ll just turn back and go down that side road”.

By this time the dozens of Owls behind had now caught up and chaos ensued.

We all turned round.

A Bournemouth fan in his car would his window down and said “You need to go back” – yes we know that now mate!

Where were you at the end of the road to tell us that?

Then another Bournemouth fan appeared. “No, you can go down this alley way”.

I BLOODY KNEW IT! I TOLD YOU THERE WAS AN ALLEY WAY!!

No-one could hear me as they were all trying to regain their focus after the dizziness of being turned this way and that.

I blame the bouncer. Bad directions.

Bournemouth Presntation Pie

Bad Direction Award: Pie in a box

We got into the ground in plenty of time to get a pie – which came in a presentation box.

I felt like I’d won some sort of award.

We took our seats in the sunshine and had time to take in the surroundings. I love away days in the sunshine when we’re playing a team who don’t have blue or white as their colours.
The swathe of Owls fans stand out a mile and the sight is great, especially when we’re bouncing.
They’ve put a stand behind the goal where the car park used to be the only visible sight and it is much better for it – a small, compact ground that suits a club of their size and creates a really good atmosphere.

I love Dean Court.

THE MATCH

We kicked off playing with pretty much a 4-4-2 formation, although Maguire was wandering around behind Nuhiu in a floating role.

Two pacey wide men and two up front – clearly Gray’s answer to conceding 3 in each of the previous two games was to go on the front foot.

It worked too.

We were really positive in that opening half, pressing, working hard and playing the ball nicely when we had it. Kieran Lee made a couple of misplaced passes and basic errors early on but he had our first chance, firing just wide.

Then our harrying forced a mistake – their left back played the ball straight across the Nuhiu on the edge of the area – the big striker had no hesitation in dropping his shoulder, pushing the ball onto his left foot and drilling it into the bottom corner.

YEEEEESSSSSS!!!!!

The away end, who had already been loud, were in raptures now, and it was no less than we deserved.

WE’RE NOT GOING DOWN. WE’RE NOT GOING UP.

WE’RE SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY AND WE DON’T GIVE A F**K

Chris Kirkland

Despite our good play Kirkland was needed to keep us in front

For all our good play we did have to rely on Kirkland to keep out Bournemouth with three excellent saves in that first half. Llera was getting a predictable roasting from Grabban whenever they ended up one on one with each other and I think Howe missed a trick really, as he had Grabban on the left of their attack, up against Onyewu for most of the game. If he’d played up against Llera for 90 minutes he’d have surely got more success, and it was he who set up the equaliser, going down the right side of our area and crossing the ball back from the touchline for Surman to head in from close range. I thought Kirkland could have come for the cross but to be fair it was fizzed in.

Despite the best efforts of the referee, who seemed to give every 50/50 in favour of the home side and then booked Hutchinson when the home fans called for it (he could easily have given him a warning), we retook the lead. For all the good football we’d been playing it was a long throw – Antonio, flicked on by Maguire and headed in on the line by Hutchinson. Just reward for a positive half of football.

Just before half time Llera then went up for a header in our box and was clearly taken out by an elbow. The referee didn’t give the foul, but then spoke with their player, which makes no sense to me. Llera recovered and as the whistle went for the break I think we deserved the lead – Kirkland’s saves apart they hadn’t troubled us as much as their fans would have wanted in the circumstances.

You’d think that in the heat, and with our position in the league, our players would be taking it relatively easy, but there was none of that.

They never stopped running and my fear at half time was that they would burn out quickly.

That soon became the fear for myself too, as at the end of half time I realised that the sun wasn’t going anywhere and I had missed my chance to get out of it for 15 minutes.

Substitutions would be key in the second half, keeping the energy up would be nigh on impossible so the fresh legs of Lavery, Best, Coke, Palmer and Afobe warming up were good to see. It seemed like we had options on the bench, and we were winning, so all the signs were good.

Typically we then received a blow early in the second half with Buxton going down injured after a challenge (no, the ref didn’t give a foul) and having to be replaced by Palmer.

There wasn’t much happening at either end in the early throes of the second half so it was a real blow when we conceded and equaliser from a corner – a simple header from Kermorgant and all the hard work had been undone.

Now the home fans woke up and the Bournemouth players had their tails up. It was going to be a long half an hour.

Hutch Red Card

Silly challenges

Then it got longer.

Hutchinson was unlucky to be booked in the first half but that doesn’t excuse the stupidity of diving in when you are on a yellow card.
He did it once and got away with it, then 5 minutes later did it again. This time from behind as the home side were breaking – a clear yellow and off he went. The referee could have given him a final warning but the home fans called for the card again and again they got what they asked for.

So another enforced change brought Coke into the fray and suddenly those options for tactical fresh legs were reduced to one.

We then conceded a free kick on the edge of the box, and after recently conceding from similar positions more than once I think we all feared the worst. The shot was hit perfectly into the top corner, but Kirkland flung himself over and tipped it onto the woodwork, it ricocheted what seemed like a dozen times between him and the post and then was cleared.

Our number 1 had kept us in it again.

At this stage I pretty much had the ramble written in my head. “We were never going to be able to keep them out with 10 men after working so hard in the heat, they were going for the play-offs so we couldn’t resists their attacks for that long. There is no shame in losing in those circumstances, on we go to the next one”.

But that isn’t what happened.

Best had come on for Nuhiu and was frustrating some of us as the impetus we needed up front didn’t come.

He was the freshest player on the pitch yet seemed laboured in his running. But then Antonio borke down the right hand side in front of us, we knew he would have the pace to beat his man and he did just that, advancing into the area.

We all poised ourselves to celebrate…

All he had to do was stroke it into the corner…

He struck the ball…

It bent round Camp…and we started to celebrate…

YYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA……….AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

Leon best Scores

Not the best but they all count

The ball smacked back off the crossbar.

How did that happen?!?!

As we cursed our luck the ball dropped to Best, who brought it down and hit a soft shot to the near post.

Well that’s never going in.

Then the net bulged.

YYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YOU BEAUTYYYYYYY!!!!!!!

GET IN THEEEEEEEEERE!!!!!

We went mad, the players went mad and there was a mass pile up near the bench with – obviously – Nuhiu at the heart of it.

We’d bloody well nicked it. Hadn’t we?

But there were still a few minutes left – plus the injury time for Buxton. Another free kick on the edge of the box arrived and this time went straight down Kirkland’s throat.

7 minutes injury time went up.

SEVEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We held on. They attacked down the right, Kermorgant went down claiming he’d been clipped by Mattock but it was right in front of the linesman and he said no. Suddenly we had the ball back and Best was on the far side, in our half, unmarked. It was launched to him. He proceeded down the right. Maguire, who had run himself into the ground all day (not always to good effect, but mote of that later) was suddenly sprinting down the centre of the pitch. All Best had to do was square it to him. He did. We paused. Was it too close to the ‘keeper? Maguire got there first and simply controlled the ball into the net. He didn’t shoot it, he didn’t pass it, he cushioned it and it dinked nicely over Camp and over the line.

YYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s amazing how a goal in the 96th minute of a relatively meaningless game, which is simply sealing a win, not even a winner it itself, can feel so good.

The players came down in front of us this time and we were going bonkers. I felt a tug on my back as the guy behind me fell backwards and tried to steady himself on me – it didn’t work, thankfully, as he tumbled backwards down the concrete steps. He was helped to his feet, many concerned onlookers wondering if he’d done any harm to himself.

He stood up and shouted ‘YEEEEEEEESSSS!!!!”

What a moment.

The final whistle went and the players came for their deserved ovation. Central to the celebrations was Atdhe Nuhiu. I love this bloke and he loves playing for us. Finally he has been taken to the hearts of Owls fans, not because he’s a joke figure but because we recognise his workrate, we know his limitations but his desire outweighs that and he seems to be loved by his teammates too. I doubt there’s a more popular player right now among fans or players.

SO HERE’S TO YOU, ATDHE NUHIU,

WEDNESDAY LOVE YOU MORE THAN YOU WILL KNOW, OH, OH, OH!

His song rang out throughout the game and way after the crowds had filed out of the stand.

Stuart Gray Pensive

Happy? Let ya face know Stuart

The final salute was to Stuart Gray.

STUART GRAY’S BARMY ARMY
STUART GRAY’S BARMY ARMY
STUART GRAY’S BARMY ARMY

Sung in unison by all the travelling fans as he waved to us must have given him goosebumps.

It certainly did me.

So what a day out that was. Some great performances and some odd ones, but a fantastic three points.

Chris Maguire must be the most self confident footballer I’ve ever seen play for us.

This backfires sometimes – at least 3 times he gave the ball away in daft positions by trying to be too clever, and he’s always liable to put his foot in and get booked, but you can’t fault the guy for his workrate. And that confidence brings with it some magical moments too. His finish was lovely and well deserved, and he seems to love the floating role behind the front man.

Kirkland was magnificent again, Mattock did very well and Antonio was a real threat throughout.
Leon Best seemed to contribute little and then suddenly had scored one and made another. He’s an odd one to work out but I hope we continue to play Nuhiu, Maguire and see more of Lavery in the final games.

We really can enjoy the end to the season now, and by the looks of it there’ll be plenty of goals left in our remaining matches.

OWLS ALIVE circliar yeller SPACE
Chris
Owls Alive
E-mail: admin@owlsalive.com

Twitter: @chris_shelley and @OwlsAlive


2 Comments

  1. Good stuff Beastie – we’ve missed you !

    • Thanks Alan…that one isn’t one of mine but it does feel like it when reading it. It’s from Chris who has spent enough time in my company, reading the stuff and being part of them to know how the rambles should go…as has your own son it seems going by his excellent efforts.

      I’ll be back in the future at some point getting amongst them all but time is short at the moment and it’s good to have the new younger bloods involved keeping it fresh.

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