RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- Bristol City

RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- Bristol City

I’d tried to not get too carried away before this match.

The buzz around Hillsborough this summer has been completely different to all other recent closed seasons due to the takeover and influx of signings.

I was trying to err more on the side of caution and not get carried away with all the excitement.

However, waking up on Saturday morning I was more than a little excited.

Football was back!

It had been a long summer with Wednesday-less Saturdays and as we jumped in the car to head off to Hillsborough it all just felt right again, as though a void had been filled.

Lewis McGugan mingled with fans ahead of his third debut

Lewis McGugan mingled with fans ahead of his third debut

We arrived at the ground early with the intention of taking full advantage of the ‘pies for a pound’ offer that was on.

We ended up having a 20-minute or so wait for the turnstiles to be opened so we stood and watched the players arriving.

I’m always so impressed with how our players have so much time for the fans. Whether it be for photographs, autographs or just a general chat that supporters are after, our players are always accommodating.

It’s something I always notice when watching the Premier League games on TV — their players usually rush past the fans with their headphones in and I truly hope that when we do eventually return to the Premier League we don’t lose that fan-supporter relationship.

I was a little concerned to see that our players didn’t seem in very good moods as they headed through the players’ entrance. They were lacking their usual smiles.

I was shocked and disappointed to see Jose Semedo actually turn down a young girl asking for an autograph! I hope he was genuinely in a rush.

Pies for a pound!

Pies for a pound!

When the turnstiles opened I made sure we were among the first to be let in so I could grab my pies and get sat down.

The whole family got in on the pie deal with and my Dad pushed the boat out and spent £2 on two pies! They were good.

It felt brilliant to be back home and we settled down in our seats to watch Leeds v Burnley, which was being broadcast live on our impressive new big screen.

The old lady was looking well after her summer facelift and you could hear Wednesdayites discussing the changes as they entered the ground and took in the new surroundings.

After clock-watching for the best part of an hour it was finally time for our season to begin.

The team headed out onto the pitch to rapturous applause, with the players wearing the new smart-looking white matchday jackets.

The waiting was nearly over as the players strode out in their smart new training tops

The waiting was nearly over as the players strode out in their smart new training tops

There were no surprises in the starting line-up except, perhaps, Jeremy Hélan being chosen at left back and new signing Rhoys Wiggins not even making the matchday squad.

There was a chorus of boos as Bristol City won the toss and we swapped ends – kicking towards the Kop for the first half. A brilliantly loud Hi Ho Sheffield Wednesday roared out around the stadium as we kicked off.


Straight away our new style of play was obvious for anybody who hadn’t witnessed any of the pre-season matches.

We set up in an attacking 4-3-3 formation with a real emphasis on fast-flowing, passing football.

The only surprise I had was that quite often Keiren Westwood would kick a long ball forward, looking to catch Bristol City on the break.

This did work quite well with it often creating chances for Marco Matias but I’d been expecting to see us pass out from the back.

It was exciting to see what a threat we were when we went forward with so many attack-minded players now being part of the team.

Nuhiu impressed with his close control early on

Nuhiu impressed with his close control early on

Atdhe Nuhiu held the ball up brilliantly, bringing both wingers into play as well as showing the superb close control that we know he has.

Atdhe was winning everything in the air, turning his defenders and we even saw the brilliant Nuhiu nutmeg that always sends a cheer around the ground.

On the flanks we had two wingers who looked a threat every time they had the ball and it was the kind of excitement we’re just not used to seeing at S6.

The midfield three of Alex López, Lewis McGugan and Sam Hutchinson was perfectly balanced, with Hutchinson playing the deeper role but also getting involved in some brilliant passing football and not just doing the dirty work.

López and McGugan is a pairing we could have only dreamed of for the last few years and I can’t wait to see what else is to come from that relationship.

Jack Hunt was a revelation. He overlapped his winger and the Bristol City left back is probably still having nightmares about Hunt skipping past him.

I lost count of the number of times Hunt easily passed two or three City defenders.

I can’t remember the last time we had a full back who did the attacking and defending sides so well.

At left back Hélan was having a cracking game and causing problems when he went forward – he even delivered a few crosses into the box!

Although we went in at half time goalless there were no real concerns as it felt like only a matter of time before we would score.

We’d had more than enough chances and ideally we should have been a couple of goals to the good but we’d witnessed an entertaining first half of attacking football, probably better than all last season’s home matches combined!

Alex Lopez put in a strong showing on his Wednesday debut

Alex Lopez put in a strong showing on his Wednesday debut

Matias had had a good few chances, one where he was able to control the ball on his head in the style of a seal in order to beat the defender, then shot across goal, beating the ‘keeper but somehow the ball didn’t end up in the back of the net.

López had probably the chance of the half though when he shot over from inside the box (I never saw the ‘keeper touch it but we were awarded a corner) after a poor clearance.

At the other end of the pitch chances for Bristol City had been pretty much non-existent with us limiting them to long-range shots from distance, from Luke Freeman and Aaron Wilbraham.

Glenn Loovens and Tom Lees looked as calm and composed as ever and although Westwood had very little to do, he did very little very well.

HALF TIME: Wednesday 0-0 Bristol City

At half time there was an absolute scandal with me somehow not winning the BMW.

The second half would manage to just about make up for this outrageous event though.

A big talking point at half time was the fact that Sam Hutchinson had managed to get through his first 45 minutes of the season without getting himself into the referee’s notebook!


There were no changes at the break so the same Wednesday team came out for the second half and continued in the same manner.

It was surely just a matter of when we scored and not if.

Our right-hand side continued to look like the side most likely to be the one that created our opening goal; Hunt was earning more supporters by the minute.

Tom Lees scores Wednesday Bristol City 2015

Lees opens the scoring

However, on the hour mark the scoring was opened and it came from a corner on the left. Lopez put a delicious delivery into the box and Lees finally got himself his first Wednesday goal.

A brilliant powerful header could only be pushed into the top corner by Robins’ ‘keeper Frank Fielding and Hillsborough erupted.

It was fantastic to see all the players rush around Lees to congratulate him and for the fans to see that there is still a great team spirit among the squad.

Although Bristol City offered very little threat to Westwood’s goal and he had no significant saves to make all match there was one scary moment in the 71st minute.

A corner was put into the penalty area from Westwood’s left and Wes Burns rose highest to meet the ball with his head.

His header had certainly beat Westwood but thankfully McGugan was on the back post and volleyed the ball away.

Lewis McGugan scores Wednesday Bristol City 2015

Cool finish from Lewis McGugan.

Suddenly Wednesday were on the counter-attack with Hélan rushing forward with the ball at his feet.

He did brilliantly and just kept surging forward but as he carried the ball more centrally we were all urging him to pass it.

It was starting to look like he might have blown an excellent chance by carrying the ball too far but then he played a super ball out wide to Ross Wallace, who put another excellent cross into the danger zone.

The ball went over the head of Nuhiu and the flapping Fielding but luckily McGugan had sprinted the length of the pitch in less than 30 seconds after his goalline clearance and he was able to tuck the ball away with a neat volleyed finish.

Get in!

McGugan was delighted to secure the three points

McGugan was delighted to secure the three points

Surely that was job done and as news continued to pop up on the scoreboard about the ever-growing embarrassment for our red-and-white neighbours the atmosphere could only improve.

It was then a case of shutting Bristol City out and in Carvalhal’s words, “we idn’t just close the doors we closed the windows too”.

Although we did allow Bristol City to have the ball we never really gave them an opening and you never felt like Westwood’s clean sheet was under threat.

There was time for an official debut for Lucas João who came on and looked impressive.

He was able to create a wonderful chance for Matias, via substitute Kieran Lee, but unfortunately it just wasn’t to be Matias’s day and again he put a great chance wide of the goal.

FULL TIME: Wednesday 2-0 Bristol City

When the full time whistle was blown it was a case of job well done and what an encouraging opening day performance.

It had been a bit of a stroll in the park in all honesty, far easier than I had dared hope!

There was clearly so much more to come from this new group of players and we could look forward to the next match at Ipswich with more confidence.

Our trip to Ipswich next Saturday will certainly be a test as they’re a quality team and if we can pick up a positive result thereit certainly bodes well for the rest of the season.

Up first, though, we face Mansfield in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night and it’ll be interesting to see the starting 11 for that match.

I’d expect Carvalhal to make some changes and I look forward to seeing some of the players who didn’t get a chance against Bristol City.

A potentially tricky hurdle has been easily jumped over and we look forward to seeing where this new-look Wednesday can go from here.

Up the Owls!

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