RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- Mansfield Town

RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- Mansfield Town

Didn’t you just love August growing up?

You were right in the thick of the school holidays. September was still far enough away that the schoolwork you’d been set didn’t bother you and the ‘Back to School’ signs weren’t up in the Woolies window just yet.

You could kick a ball about on the street with your mates till gone 9 o’clock and you’d get up in the morning at no particular time and look forward to doing it all again.

Each day melts into the next and you’re not even sure if Saturday’s exist anymore… you love August and just when you think life couldn’t get any better, your Dad shows you your new season ticket – football and Wednesday are back.

That excitement I felt as a kid as August and the new season drew closer started to fade over the years. One becomes accustomed to a certain level of crap.

While you still looked forward to it, you generally accept what you were in for… Ashley Westwood, Jon Beswetherick, Julian Bennett, Leon Clarke and the rest.

A new signing would stir the excitement levels, sure, but you knew to hold yourself back a bit.

This pre-season, as we all know, was a little different. Unprecedented you might say.

Gray: Not given the opportunity to build from the solid base he'd founded

Gray: Not given the opportunity to build from the solid base he’d founded

At one point we seemed to be signing a different player every week. I have to say I was shocked and disappointed that Stuart Gray didn’t get a fair crack at this season, I’ll be interested to see where he goes next.

The appointment of Carlos Carvalhal raised my eyebrows pretty much off the top of my head.

A foreign manager with no experience of the English league and a very questionable managerial record.

I couldn’t work it out, but it would seem so far so good – he speaks well, seems very intelligent and makes sense even through his broken English.

There’s also the fact we’ve brought in these exotic players with Champions League names: Alex Lopez, Marco Matias, Lucas João… and Rhoys Wiggins.

The excitement, for me, was back. I was a kid again, heading into the wonder of the unknown of Wednesday.

The only blot on the pre-season report is of course the ticket price situation. I know a lot has been said about this (including this cracking article by Owlsalive’s Hugh Wragg) so I won’t go on BUT for me the problem runs much deeper than Sheffield Wednesday’s new owners.

It’s the wider state of the game – the clamour to get into the ‘promised land’, billion pound TV rights, the gap between League One and the Championship quietly getting wider, astronomical player salaries and promising young players settling for sitting on the bench with a heavy wallet.

All of which contributes to two things:–

1. The England national team being essentially crap for the last 10 years.
2. Supporters being priced out of watching their local team.

Most fans have been partisan rather than sticking together on the issue of ticket prices

Most fans have been partisan rather than sticking together on the issue of ticket prices

Sod the national team, fans should NEVER be priced out of watching football.

Fans are almost shouldering the blame for their club putting ticket prices up, apologising for their club.

It’s ridiculous, especially when Bristol City are threatening to boycott a £39 away game when it costs up to £38 to go see their own team this weekend against Brentford.

But worse still, how many Dads had to tell their kids they couldn’t take them to the opening match of the season because they couldn’t afford? It’s just not on.

The Mansfield match was thankfully affordable at just £12 a ticket. This was reflected by the impressive crowd of just over 14,000.

We all know there’s something special about Hillsborough under the floodlights and with the not flashy but efficient start to the season on Saturday, plenty took the opportunity to see some more new recruits in the flesh.

I was cautiously optimistic at kick-off on Saturday and that’s how I felt at full time too.

We didn’t play Bristol City off the park but we played with a swagger and oozed ability across the pitch. All in all, a good day.

Football League Tonight: an absolute disgrace

Football League Tonight: an absolute disgrace

That was untiI I switched over to Channel 5 at the bedtime friendly time of 9pm. Sweet baby Jeebus.

FOOTBALL CHUFFIN LEAGUE TONIGHT.

What an absolute let down.

It’s abominations like this that has only helped widen that gap between the Football League and the Premier League.

The programme completely devalued the whole of the Football League with its shoddy production and amateur format.

It should be so simple – show the goals, get a non-Steve-Claridge expert summariser and show the tables.

Do NOT have an awkward looking audience there just for the sake of it.

As funny as it was at the time to see the Blunts get tonked down south immediately after us, do NOT jump between leagues – I’d have been fuming if the boot was on the other foot. It was hugely disrespectful.

Do NOT employ an expert summariser that no one has heard of to talk over the goals, nice enough as Adam Virgo (?) was.

Do NOT ask a question of the awkward-looking audience if they clearly don’t want to be there and more importantly, DON’T ASK THEM A QUESTION IF THEY DON’T EVEN HAVE A MICROPHONE BECAUSE YOU CAN’T HEAR WHAT THEY’RE SAYING.

Aand finally, do NOT let Martin Allen anywhere near a TV camera.

I loved the Blue Peter sticky tape and toilet roll tables mind…

Perhaps I may have digressed slightly from a midweek cup match against Mansfield Town in lovely August so back to it.

CC made nine changes from the team that beat Bristol City  on Saturday, which included Wiggins and Modou Sougou making their debuts and the exciting João playing up top.

We took our seats in the unfamiliar bottom right of the South Stand with limited room for your knees and we were off.

THE MATCH

We seemed to be deploying the same kind of formation as Saturday with the lone striker being assisted by, on this occasion, Caolan Lavery and Sougou on the wings with Jose Semedo, Lopez and Kieran Lee in the middle with a flat back four.

Lopez is wonderful to watch. Yes this was a Division Four side but he is class. I feel the days of Darren Potter and James O’Connor are finally behind us.

João celebrates putting Wednesday in front

João celebrates putting Wednesday in front

We started the game brightly. It had a feel of a pre-season game in the evening sunshine and it wasn’t long before we were ahead.

A superb delivery from the right from Lopez found João unmarked in the middle who finished smartly with his head.

1-0

As on Saturday, we were getting down the channels and getting into attacking positions.

It was so easy – send the wingers on their way and play the ball through to them.

In Lopez and Lee we had players who didn’t mess about when it came to passing.

By the 19th minute, it was 2-0 and a real collector’s item – a goal from Jose Semedo.

Who knows what he was doing there? Maybe CC is encouraging him to get forward more.

Jose Semedo: goal machine

Jose Semedo: goal machine

The impressive Sougou looped a ball into the box again from the right and Semi ducked in and headed the ball past a stranded Scott Shearer in the Mansfield goal.

In the excitement of Semi, I grazed mi knees on the seat in front.

2-0

We continued to dominate. Lavery should’ve done better with a shot he played straight at the ‘keeper and João looked dangerous every time he moved forward with the ball.

But as the clock ticked down to half time, Mansfield got one back which came completely against the run of all the play there’s ever been.

Joe Wildsmith, a Wednesdayite making his professional debut, made a great save from a close range header.

He probably would’ve been a little disappointed conceding from the resulting corner. He needs a little bit more confidence in his box but that’ll come.

HALF TIME: Wednesday 2-1 Mansfield Town

There were a few players from last term with a bit of a point to prove.

Young Lavery had a frustrating night

Young Lavery had a frustrating night

Unfortunately Liam Palmer and Lavery didn’t have the best of games.

Lavery seemed awkward and frustrated on the ball while Palmer made a few silly mistakes and received a yellow card late on from a reckless tackle borne out of frustration.

Semi held his own while Helan again looked impressive when he came on for Lavery.

But what about the boy João ? I’m trying desperately hard to not get too excited about this lad but he had a lot going for him.

He ran all night, encouraged his teammates, had an excellent first touch and a smart head on his shoulders.

It was his clever play that released Lee for goal number three when it looked like nothing was on.

Lee latched onto an excellent through ball from João with a good first touch that set him up nicely to pass the ball into the bottom corner.

3-1

Sougou cheekily celebrates his first goal for the Owls

Sougou cheekily celebrates his first goal for the Owls

We needed that because Mansfield came out for the second half fired up and an equaliser could’ve meant a long night ahead. Once we scored that third it was pretty much game over.

We continued to dominate. Matias really should’ve scored and João was unlucky after another lung-busting run in which he beat three players but was halted by a good tackle from a Mansfield defender.

We were watching players that actually made you get off your seat.

With five minutes left, Sougou, who’d done well all in flashes also got himself a debut goal from 6 yards after excellent work on the left from the tenacious Helan.

4-1

FULL TIME: Wednesday 4-1 Mansfield Town

There could’ve and probably should’ve been more goals from us but it was another entertaining 90 minutes at Hillsborough.

We’d seen six actual real life goals in the space of a couple of days.

It goes without saying that Ipswich will be our marker.

Last year’s play-off semi-finalists look strong again and will provide us with our first real test.

It will be tough but on these first two showings, we shouldn’t fear anyone this season.

Bring it on.

OWLS ALIVE circliar blue-4 (Midsize)

Tom Chittenden
Owls Alive
E-mail: admin@owlsalive.com

Twitter: @tjchitt86 and @OwlsAlive


2 Comments

  1. Nicely written, couldn’t agree more about the horrendous Channel 5 offering.

  2. Great stuff again Tom – pity those at the top of football dont seem to care too much about the price hikes and the way kids and families have been drawn away from the game .

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