RAMBLE: Wednesday 3-0 Cardiff City

RAMBLE: Wednesday 3-0 Cardiff City

Living in the West Midlands means that trips to Hillsborough are few and far between for me nowadays, but being on night shifts for the week meant that this one was a goer.

It also meant that train tickets had to be purchased. I didn’t want to drive up to Sheffield on next to no sleep (nothing to do with wanting to enjoy a few alcoholic beverages, nothing at all…)

I was in bed at half six in the morning and back up at half nine.

I’d hardly kipped.

My mind was alternating between the horrific thought of Wednesday battering Cardiff from pillar to post, to Forestieri, Bannan and Lee passing Cardiff into submission.

I’d think about Wednesday getting nothing, with the visitors scoring with a shot taking 429 deflections before finally rolling past the agonised outstretched fingertips of Keiren Westwood in the 98th minute.

Then I’d imagine our own version of Argentina’s famous goal against Serbia & Montenegro in 2006, every player involved, a Cardiff player touching the ball being as rare a sight as a Jose Semedo goal, Hillsborough belting out ‘Carlos had a dream’.

I’d dream of joyous scenes as Hillsborough celebrated. Little did I know portions of my dream would come true later on.

I’d arranged to meet with Chris, Donovan & Andrew – some of my fellow West Midlands Owls in the New Barrack Tavern before the game and after getting to the front of the jam packed bar and smartly ordering multiple beers to avoid the queues again met up and had a good old natter about everything Wednesday.

Reasons to be cheerful

Reasons to be cheerful

We talked about the progress of Kieran Lee, our love of Barry Bannan and Fernando Forestieri, how far we’ve progressed as a club and days like this are what we live for as a Wednesday fan, a Hillsborough full of Owls fans.

It’s a far cry from Brian Barry-Murphy, Jon Beswetherick, Leon Clarke summing up his Wednesday career in that game against Crystal Palace and THAT 5-1 shellacking at Stevenage.

Mentioning that brought out a collective shudder from everyone in hearing range.

We eventually walked to the ground under the rain which had cleared by the time I’d ambled up the numerous flights of stairs to get to the Grandstand.

Sometimes you think you know a place and I’ve been to Hillsborough countless times in the past but there’s very few times you get an atmosphere like this.

The cheering, the noise, the sight of a full Kop, a full North Stand, the inflatables were out in full force too including the sight of an inflatable penis, well, there were always a few dicks on the Kop I guess.

Nevertheless, it was incredible and, as the guy who used to write these would have said, it was “a fur up” moment.

The only thing that looked out of place was the West Stand which had a smattering of Cardiff fans.

THE MATCH

Any fears that Wednesday were going to play for the draw were very quickly swept away as the Owls started on the front foot – a quick passing move by Forestieri, Bannan and Lee saw the ball fall to Lucas Joao, whose shot ballooned off a Cardiff defender and went very, very wide.

The resulting corner was at first a dud with a failed short attempt but Lopez’s second effort was far superior and perfectly placed as Loovens connected with it but his bullet header went agonisingly wide.

Lopez retains possession

Lopez retains possession

There was further good work as Bannan’s excellent ball found Hunt who danced around the Cardiff defender, the ball came off another Cardiff man.

Hooper showed off his strength by comfortably holding off the defender and feeding it to Pudil who blasted it over from just outside the penalty area and could probably have done better had he taken a touch first.

There was also a humorous moment when Anthony Pilkington had to be substituted through injury and the stadium announcer who said it was a substitution for Coventry City.

The announcer apologised for his error later and said he’d announced Coventry because they’d just scored against our friends from S2!

Of course that was followed by a cheer!

Could only find the post this time

Could only find the post this time

There was a more direct touch in another move where Westwood’s long kick forward was controlled by Joao and fed to Hooper who had little trouble shrugging off the Cardiff defender and surging forward, when he did pull the trigger, the post denied him.

The standard Forestieri booking came but this time it was deserved as he fouled Peltier, that being said the referee did protect the star when O’Keefe wiped him out before.

Cardiff’s first real effort came when Whittingham fired wide from distance, another good Lopez corner was met by Lees whose good header was just over.

Cardiff could have gone in front had Zohore possessed a better first touch as he was onside and only had Westwood to beat but half time came and although Wednesday were in the ascendancy, the deadlock hadn’t been broken.

HALF TIME – WEDNESDAY 0-0 CARDIFF CITY

That being said there was no real nervous tension (at least not from my perspective) as the Owls were applauded from the pitch.

The break came and went quickly with the only amusement being the hapless penalty taker trying to decapitate Ozzie Owl.

Forestieri was wiped out again by Connolly who saw himself booked but FF blasted the resultant free kick over after venting his frustration at the referee, an incident which in my view contributed to his substitution not long afterwards.

But before he did, the moment the Owls fans had expectantly been waiting for finally came, a quick Lopez free kick led to neat interplay between Pudil and Lee, Pudil had a shot which Marshall could only parry, unfortunately for him the ball fell straight to Gary Hooper who did what Gary Hooper does and stuck it straight in the net.

Hooper with another important goal

Hooper with another important goal

Hillsborough absolutely erupted, I think the collective cheer could well have been heard in Cardiff or Coventry!

The noise was deafening, it wasn’t the hardest goal he’ll ever score but it was more than deserved.

Forestieri was subbed for Nuhiu who nearly scored with his first touch but Marshall was equal to his powerful header.

Marshall however won’t want to look back at his next contribution.

Like that kid in school who gets stuck in goal but thinks he can play outfield, he tried to show off just outside the penalty area near the corner flag and tried to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick but Hooper’s hustle saw him dispossess Marshall and held him off as Marshall raced back toward the goal.

Hooper floated the ball in, it took a deflection and under pressure from Joao, Peltier could only put it into his own net as Hillsborough erupted for a second time.

Captain and coach celebrate

Captain and coach celebrate

Lucas Joao’s tame shot nearly made it 3-0 but the third came deep in injury time and had a distinct route one feel to it.

Westwood’s long kick was nodded on by Nuhiu and fell to Hooper who delicately flicked it over Marshall and made the result official – 3-0.

Wednesday in the playoffs, job done and kudos to our fans, no idiotic pitch invasion either.

FULL TIME – WEDNESDAY 3-0 CARDIFF CITY

In the big games in the past we haven’t always done the business but as soon as Hooper put us in front, there was never any doubt in my mind that this was our day.

To say what was at stake in this game, I was very disappointed in Cardiff, with everything to play for, they didn’t want it, there seemed to be no urgency, no fight and the heads were down quite early.

I’d have been disgusted with that effort if I was one of their fans, we were the better team on the day but I’ve seen plenty of Cardiff teams in my time following Wednesday and this is the only one I’ve seen that waved the white flag and given up.

A great first year for Carlos

A great first year for Carlos

I also have to praise the referee, there’s been a lot of talk around here about poor refereeing decisions but I think today’s one was excellent, he stamped out any potential problems early on without being overly card happy and Forestieri’s booking was for once warranted.

But to us, we haven’t been in the finest form in recent weeks and with that effort we not only secured our play off place but gave whoever plays us food for thought.

Lopez, Bannan, Lee and Forestieri were excellent in midfield. Lopez played the unsung role very well with neat passing moves and our forwards were a handful all afternoon.

This was the best performance I’ve seen from Gary Hooper in a Wednesday shirt, he worked hard, he hustled, he was a force the Cardiff defence couldn’t live with and he deserved his brace with a nice mix of goals, the poacher’s finish and the delicate chip were delightful.

Carlos Carvalhal challenged the crowd before and the response was near perfect, I didn’t hear any booing (bar the announcement of Nuhiu’s place on the subs bench), it was positive and the more we struggled to get the ball in the net and the harder we worked, the more the noise seemed to escalate.

There were few groans when passes were misplaced, shots went well wide or Owls players were dispossessed, it just seemed to escalate it if anything.

It was a very special atmosphere to be part of.

Hopefully it’s not the last special day to come either.

Whatever happens from here it’s been a fine season, we’ve progressed far more than I could have hoped for before the season started, I wrote here pre-season my expectations was top half with a possible tilt at the top six, I got far, far more.

Loovens takes the applause of the North Stand

Loovens takes the applause of the North Stand

That comes from Carlos Carvalhal, as the Mirror pegged it “Mourinho without the ego and theatrics”, in fact that may be a disservice to him.

Carlos may share his nationality with Mourinho but he’s a very astute tactician and he’s got us playing a brand of football unlike anything we’ve seen in a long time and we’re also unafraid of mixing it up. I saw the short, pretty passing movements and the direct tactics employed.

He and Bully are a perfect combination, I kind of hope Bully’s passion for everything SWFC is rubbing off on CC because the fans love Carlos and I hope he feels the same way.

I usually avoid twitter on match-days but yesterday the Wednesday love was flowing in a big way and seeing them all brought a huge smile to my face.

And even if we did prematurely advertise play-off tickets, £20 should see Hillsborough packed to the rafters a week on Friday. A good move by Dejphon Chansiri.

The players were applauded off and did their lap of honour and thanks after the match, I remember in 2010 at Cardiff seeing their players having done the same thing and how low I felt on the other side in the away end and how I wanted to be part of this, I got my wish but this is only the start.

Hopefully scenes like this will become a regular part of Hillsborough folklore for years to come.

The walk back into town and the train journey home just flew by.

Back in Birmingham New Street, Tango spotted me in my Wednesday colours and shouted out “We’re All Wednesday Aren’t We?”

I smiled and said “EFTP pal”

A good end to a cracking day.

The adventure is only just beginning.

Danny
Owls Alive
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TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @StirchleyOwl


One Comment

  1. cracking post and cracking day . well done

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