RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- Fulham

RAMBLE: Wednesday -v- Fulham

With Wednesday starting the month of September collecting one point from two away trips across the Pennines, it was back to Hillsborough for this one with Fulham making the trip north.

To start on a sombre note, I have to mention the passing away of former goalkeeper Ron Springett.

A true hero mainly for Wednesday, playing nearly 400 times over a nine-year spell, along with Queens Park Rangers and for the England National Team, making 33 appearances.

He was England’s first choice goalkeeper in the early 1960s before Gordon Banks took over, with Ron as the understudy, which culminated in the World Cup triumph.

Although he didn’t make an appearance in 1966, FIFA rules at the time meant Ron did not receive a winners’ medal.

Ron Springett: Wednesday legend

Ron Springett: Wednesday legend

However in 2009, he and the other England squad members, whether or not they’d played, received medals at 10 Downing Street given to them by then prime minister Gordon Brown.

Obviously, it was long before my time but people of an older generation have told me he was the best goalkeeper Wednesday have ever had.

Very sad news to lose another footballing great and my thoughts go out to his friends and family.

Before the Fulham game, it was announced that before kick-off there would be a minute’s silence, with both sets of players wearing black armbands as a mark of respect.

Going into the match, I had mixed feelings.

From the away games at Burnley and Bolton, there were positives to take from the performances but to collect one point from six available was disappointing. It was no improvement to our run of results.

At Burnley we played well, controlling possession for long spells but without creating a great deal and we were punished as a result.

Wildsmith performed admirably in Westwood's absence

Wildsmith performed admirably in Westwood’s absence

Joe Wildsmith made his league debut in goal and he was fantastic. He made a few good saves and couldn’t really be blamed for the goals conceded.

It was more down to bad defending that cost us. Atdhe Nuhiu getting a goal will do his confidence the world of good – the first league goal scored by a Wednesday striker this season.

New signings Daniel Pudil, Fernando Forestieri and Barry Bannan also made their debuts and contributed well.

I’m optimistic they’ll turn out to be good players; they just have to show it on the pitch.

At Bolton, it was the complete opposite.

We created a lot of chances but we didn’t take any of them, failing to score for the first time this season. Bolton didn’t offer much so it was a missed opportunity.

It might turn out to be a valuable point come the end of the season but it could and probably should have been three.

Kieran Lee was again the standout player. He could have easily slipped under the radar with all the new signings but his efforts and form have kept him in the team.

Wildsmith making the first clean sheet of his Wednesday career (and our first since the opening day) was a deserved one and hopefully there’s more to come.

It was 2.20 and after taking in a hot dog from a burger van outside the ground and purchasing a bottle of water due to the heat, the line-ups were in.

SWFC: Westwood; Hunt, Lees, Turner, Pudil; Lee, Lopez, Bannan; Wallace, Nuhiu, Forestieri

Fulham: Lonergan; Richards, Stearman, Ream, Husband; Cairney, Tunnicliffe, O’Hara, Pringle; Dembele, McCormack

Hutchinson's disciplinary problems continue to be a concern

Hutchinson’s disciplinary problems continue to be a concern

Seeing Westy back was refreshing, even if Wildsmith did a good job in past games.

Alex Lopez was in for the suspended Sam Hutchinson and Ross Wallace was recalled for Marco Matias, who dropped to the bench.

Five yellows for Hutch already is a huge worry.

He has been one of our best players so far this season. He just needs to be less reckless even though aggression is part of his game. Saying that, we have worthy replacements and it shows the depth in the squad.

The programme cover was a fitting tribute and I’m sure Ron would’ve approved.

The minute’s silence turned into an applause, which was heart-warming to remember a great man and we were under way.

FIRST HALF

We started the game in lively fashion when a delivery from Wallace (you’ll see me say this quite a bit) found home debutant Bannan whose header at the far post was equally matched by goalkeeper Lonergan, who tipped it over the bar.

Shortly after, Bannan had another opportunity as we took a quickly taken free kick and he put the effort wide. It was a good start to the game from our perspective.

Fulham hadn’t really got going. They didn’t look like a team who had won three in a row coming into the match.

Jack Hunt was giving the Fulham full backs a torrid time down the right hand side and he won a corner.

Forestieri celebrates his first Owls goal

Forestieri celebrates his first Owls goal

From the resulting corner, taken by Wallace, it came to Forestieri. His head connected with the ball and it hit the back of the net. It was no more than we deserved.

I’m not sure if he was brought in to score headers given his height but he did just that.

GET IN!!!!!

We were oozing with confidence and controlling the game. Fulham couldn’t find an answer.

They’re not a poor side at all; we were making them look poor and had to make our dominance count.

20 minutes gone and there was only one team in the game. A minute later, Nuhiu goes forward and is pulled back by Stearman. The referee, unsurprisingly, gave nothing. To think Mike Dean’s officiating at Stamford Bridge not sending off Diego Costa wasn’t bad enough…

OK, I wouldn’t say worse but still it was the wrong decision to not at least show a yellow.

Fulham were slowly getting a foothold in the game and, on 28, had their first effort on goal.

A shot from Tunnicliffe went inches wide after being set up by Cairney. That was a warning shot right there; we needed a second goal to give us some breathing space. Although I knew a goal was coming.

Fulham had the intensity we once had and moments later a cross in from the left-hand side (our right) wasn’t dealt with and the experienced Jamie O’Hara had a swing at it and the ball found its way into the net via a deflection.

1-1

I must say, and credit to the Fulham fans, the chant they have for him was well thought of.

“All we hear is Jamie O’Hara” (To the tune of Queen – Radio Gaga)

We needed to respond and respond we did.

Another cross from Wallace was met in the box by Lopez and again Lonergan made a superb save to concede another corner.

Tom Lees made it 2-1

Tom Lees made it 2-1

Again, Wallace took it and this time it was sent to the far post and the stand-in skipper Tom Lees met it to claim his second goal for the club and for the season.

2-1!!!

We needed that.

We were playing really well but we need to take advantage when we’re on top. I felt it would be typical of us to go in front and sit back.

The last chance of the half fell to us when Nuhiu headed over the bar from a Wallace cross.

The half time whistle went and the players left the field to a strong applause

HALF TIME: WEDNESDAY 2-1 FULHAM

All in all, it was a very entertaining first half. A lead we deserved and could’ve easily been by a bigger margin had we taken our chances. I was feeling optimistic that we’d see out the game and get the win we desperately want.

We made a sub with the Italian stallion Forestieri off (presumably he took a knock) with Lucas João being the replacement.

A blow to lose him but it was a big chance for João to shine.

Fulham also made a substitution with the ineffective Ben Pringle taken off to be replaced by Dan Burn, switching to five at the back.

SECOND HALF

I was expecting Fulham to come out and attack but with them changing formation, we didn’t see that.

The two subs came together as Burn wiped out João and a free kick was awarded. That man Wallace was stepping up to take it and I was confident we’d create something given the game he was having.

Turner rose highest to make it 3-1

Turner rose highest to make it 3-1

It was whipped into the box and found Michael Turner to head home in off the bar.

3-1!!!

Fulham couldn’t deal with his deliveries at all and paid the price.

Lonergan didn’t look confident on set pieces whatsoever.

A hat trick of assists for Wednesday’s #33. You can’t go wrong with that at all.

It was fantastic to see, something we have missed for years. Deliveries like that into the box mean goals.

Strikers (and centre backs when attacking) live off good service and that what Ross can provide. He will make a massive difference this season with his ability from set plays.

We were passing the ball well and attacking with a purpose, we looked like extending our lead, which I felt we needed to do to kill the game off. Fulham weren’t at the races.

It was nice to hear no negativity (well from where I was sat at least.) The sun was shining and it was turning into a good day.

But this is Sheffield Wednesday and we don’t make things easy for ourselves.

Midway through the half, Richards did some good work down the right hand side, found O’Hara who crossed it in to Cairney who headed home from close range.

3-2

Turner enjoyed scoring on his Hillsborough bow

Turner enjoyed scoring on his Hillsborough bow

We switched off for a bit and we got punished. You can’t do that in this league. Nonetheless, it was a well worked goal.

It was similar to the first half; Wednesday on top, Fulham got to grips with the game and scored.

We were heading into the final 15 minutes as Bannan linked up well with João, only for the former to rifle a shot into the side netting. It was at this point where a few nerves were starting to creep in.

10 minutes to go and Nuhiu’s time was up. The big man put in a shift and was shattered.

He had a good game and it was shown with the standing ovation he received. The Black Bale a.k.a. Jeremy Helan was on.

Aa the minutes ticked by, Fulham were camped in our half.

As soon as Atdhe went off, his presence was missed. He’s played well since the international break and has made a difference.

Into stoppage time and the board went up. I couldn’t see due to the sun being in my eyes. I had to put up with hearing it instead.

Bannan continued to look the business in a Wednesday shirt

Bannan continued to look the business in a Wednesday shirt

Six minutes. I don’t even know where that came from.

Everyone was getting behind the team; there were cries of “Come on Wednesday” as Fulham were constantly attacking.

We were hanging on by a thread. The nerves were real.

Three minutes into the six and Westy made a top save to deny Burn. That was going in. My heart was pounding.

Fulham had a corner; Lonergan comes up for it… it was partially cleared only for Westy to gather from a cross. I could breathe again.

It was end to end stuff. The ref didn’t want to blow his whistle.

It was the longest six minutes ever watching attack versus defence, my heart was hurting.

Eventually, the whistle went. Three points in the bag! I was so relieved.

FULL TIME: WEDNESDAY 3-2 FULHAM

It was a fantastic game of football if you were a neutral but nervy for the fans, particularly ours.

It was a great win and a deserved one at that but the final result was a lot closer than it should’ve been.

Given the chances we created, we should’ve been out of sight before we invited Fulham back into the game and we made it difficult.

We missed a lot of chances against Burnley and Bolton and we are still missing chances but we are playing good football. I can see what we’re trying to do.

The signs are there that things are coming together. Performances in the last three games were worth more than the four points we’ve accrued.

Michael Turner did well and I think he’ll stay in the side from now on. He’s quicker and arguably more reliable than Loovens.

I mentioned it was a chance for João to show what he could do and if I’m being honest, he didn’t do much.

I can definitely see the potential; he’s got something about him. Maybe that will come with time. As CC has said, he’s one for the future.

Lewis McGugan Wednesday player 2015 16

McGugan: A quality player who just can’t get in the side at the moment

On the Lewis McGugan situation and with CC not playing him… I’m a big fan of McGugan but isn’t it a good thing that he’s not playing? It shows the depth in our squad and competition for places is strong in midfield.

When you have the likes of Lee, Bannan and Lopez/Hutch playing superb, it’s difficult to see how McGugan fits in unless it comes down to injuries/suspensions.

If you have the shirt, it’s your job to keep it.

From a Fulham point of view, it was poor defending from set pieces. It wasn’t good enough.

They improved second half but lacked a cutting edge in attack. McCormack, who we reportedly bid £10m for in the summer, I can’t confirm if he was on the pitch and if he was, he was anonymous.

As I’ve said, they’re not a bad side and they will have a good season.

CC said after the game that he felt “no pressure” yet I felt we had to win. A weight has been lifted off his shoulders.

Now, we have to build on this starting on Wednesday night at Newcastle followed by Brentford away next weekend. I don’t want it to be a flash in the pan.

A few honourable mentions:

Ross Wallace: A hat-trick of assists. His contribution was spot on. I gave him a bit of criticism in the Middlesbrough ramble saying I wasn’t impressed with his performances but I was on this occasion. Hopefully, his confidence is high and he can continue to do well.

Lee: One of our best signings of recent times?

Lee: One of our best signings of recent times?

Kieran Lee: I thought he was outstanding once again. He’s continuing to develop at a fantastic rate. He was closing players down brilliantly and didn’t stop.

As I was exiting the ground, people were saying that without him in the last six minutes we may not have held on. I couldn’t help but agree, he was crucial in the way we played.

You look back now to when he couldn’t even get a game under Dave Jones. Thank God that he didn’t leave. One of our best transfer dealings of the last couple of decades when you remember he was a free transfer from Oldham.

Now, it’s onto Newcastle away in the League Cup on Wednesday night. I’ll be in attendance as will 4,000+ other Wednesdayites.

After seeing Newcastle’s poor start to the season and with them losing at home to Watford this weekend, there’s no reason why we can’t go there, win and advance to the next round.

As long as we do ourselves proud, I’ll be happy.

Ron will be smiling.

Liam Kelly
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: admin@owlsalive.com
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @LiamK2292


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