POST MATCH RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- Derby

POST MATCH RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- Derby

I may be the eternal optimist, and each new season is a fresh start for any team, but I was even more convinced than ever we were going to have a good league campaign.

After a great start against Brighton and a very efficient performance against Notts County I couldn’t wait to get to the church of blue and white.

There is still a little kid in me that has the biggest thrill walking under the five arches and seeing the old lady in all her glory, especially on the first day of a new season.

There was definitely a buzz around the ground with a good crowd expected.

Derby County came in on the back of a play-off final defeat but as one of the strongly fancied sides after some emphatic displays last season.

For me this was the real test of Stuart Gray’s recruitment and management.

New signing Steve May was making his debut while the spine of the team with Keiren Westwood, Tom Lees and Super Captain Glenn Loovens, Sam Hutchinson and big (Big Dave) Atdhe Nuhiu had the potential to really make a solid team to build round.

The ground looked fantastic and I’ll only say this once, the corner near the Kop still looks like a bog even in dry weather.

It seems we will forever look a bit damp in that corner.

You could feel the pre-match tension in the crowd.

25,186 for the opening home game was a great crowd considering it’s holiday season as well. The Derby supporters in full voice added to a great atmosphere.

FIRST HALF

Kicking towards the Leppings Lane End, as it should always be in the first half, the Owls came out of the blocks fast setting a high tempo to their play.

The energetic Jacques Maghoma really caused the Derby full back problems and one delightful ball left the full back platting sawdust and wondering what the hell had just happened.

He had no answer to Maghoma in the first 25 minutes to the point where Derby put three men on him to try and stop him marauding down the wing.

Tom Lees has settled into the defensive unit seamlessly

Tom Lees has settled into the defensive unit seamlessly

The defence as a unit looked well-organised.

Tom Lees and Super Captain Glenn Loovens look to have a great understanding already, both strong, good on the ball and commanding.

If Dirty Leeds have got a better defender than Tom Lees they must have some defence to be able to let him go on a free.

Liam Palmer and Joe Mattock were both efficient in everything they did at full back, linking well with Chris Maguire and Maghoma, causing the Derby defence issues on both sides.

In Keiren Westwood we have a keeper that is beyond good. Perhaps from what I’ve seen the best in the Championship.

He commands his area well, kicks well, he’s great at one-on-ones and he’s also passionate.

His no-nonsense commands to the defence to clear the f-ing ball were clearly heard on the Kop and his rollicking of Loovens was impressive, leading to a lovely cuddle between ‘keeper and skipper to make up and be friends, which made me laugh.

There was a lovely moment on 33 minutes as both Owls and Derby fans stood and applauded as one for an Owls family who had lost their baby daughter at 33 days old. It does send shivers down your spine at times.

Sam Hutchinson and Kieran Lee never gave Derby’s midfield chance to settle, getting around the pitch and hunting in pairs, being strong in the tackle and tenacious when needed.

Sam Hutchinson picked up a harsh booking

Sam Hutchinson picked up a harsh booking

Hutchinson was unlucky to be booked, especially as Derby took to manhandling at times to stop Wednesday’s attacks.

Lee was substituted just before half time with what appeared to be a groin strain and on came Giles Coke, immediately taking the challenge to Derby.

Nuhiu had a great first half, causing all sorts of problems.

What a unit he’s become – difficult to handle, good on the ball and he looked to be building a good understanding with debutant Steve May who, whilst settling into a new sid,e had some nice touches and some clever runs.

You can see that he has the brain of a footballer and just needs good supply.

Shots from Maghoma, Nuhiu and May all went close without really causing Lee Grant, the Derby ‘keeper, any real problems whilst a Maguire free kick took a slight deflection off the wall and rattled the cross bar.

‘Oh for six inches,’ I hear you cry!

At the other end Derby were restricted to a couple of half chances which were fluffed without causing any real problems.
On the balance of play the Owls should have been in front at the end of the first half.

We had had more possession, more shots and had bossed the game.

My worry was could we maintain the high tempo and not let Derby back into the match.

The new half time game caused a bit of fun but bloody hell a blue bin and a plank of wood… who thought that up? Me thinks that needs a bit of a rethink.

SECOND HALF

As the teams came out for the second half Lee Grant came towards the Kop to warm applause and he returned the compliment. A ‘keeper Owls fans have a lot of respect for.

Derby had their chances in the second half

Derby had their chances in the second half

The second half was much the same as the first. The Owls tried to play at pace and Derby tried to get their passing game going.

Maghoma was less effective but still useful and chances were still being created at both ends.

Derby made three quick substitutions to try to lift their team and try to subdue a buoyant Wednesday.

A quick Derby ball saw Johnny Russell break clear with only Westwood to beat but the Wednesday stopped pulled off a blinder of a save to deny him – what a ‘keeper we have!

Then at the other end Joe Mattock hit a stinging 20-yard shot that Lee Grant tipped away.

Gary Madine replaced a tiring Nuhiu who went off to rapturous applause.

Madine was effective around the pitch, looking stronger than before with some good touches and link-up play.

In the end both sides had to settle for a point after an entertaining first home game of the season.

Super Captain Glenn Loovens helped ensure the Owls kept another clean sheet

Super Captain Glenn Loovens helped ensure the Owls kept another clean sheet

If, as some people think, Derby are the barometer to judge ourselves by then we are in for a good season.

We matched them all around the pitch, at times we were stronger, quicker and more effective.

We were unlucky not to come away with three points but another clean sheet strengthens our cause.

Stuart Gray is building a team that is together, works for each other and has some skill and guile and on early showing the Owls are going to be hard to beat.

When a manager such as Steve McLaren praises you then you know you’re going in the right direction and credit to him for that.

Also when Derby’s centre back says he was relieved Nuhiu went off you know you have a player that can cause defences headaches and can make attacks happen.

Praise for a whole team performance and long may it continue.

A great all-round performance and the optimist in me says, with the right two or three additions, we could give this a real go this season.

I still think we need a winger who can cross and perhaps another forward but we are not far off being a headache to lot of teams.

OWLS ALIVE circliar yeller SPACE
Ian (Peggy)
Owls Alive
E-mail: admin@owlsalive.com

Twitter: @cluelesspegg and @OwlsAlive


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