RAMBLE: Wednesday 3-0 Birmingham City

RAMBLE: Wednesday 3-0 Birmingham City

Friday is turning into the new Saturday.

It seems like the season has only just started and we have only three Saturday home games left out of ten.

As much as I love night games under the Hillsborough lights, it doesn’t sit well with me.

Our first home game in four weeks – a good feeling to be back.

And for me to the back on the ramble scene after a brief hiatus.

Have you all missed me?

No? I didn’t think so.

Those people that know me, personally or on social media, will know I’ve been criticising our tactics in the last few games.

It’s been making the players look worse than they actually are and I don’t wish for that.

It cost us a point minimum at Brighton and two points at Bristol.

We also got lucky at Wigan last week.

Watching the game was painful. I didn’t enjoy it, there were two poor teams on show and we ground out a result.

You can’t hide from the performance, it was awful.

Three points: all that matters?

It’s been this way for most of the season. I just hope that before the play-offs (if we are still in there at the end) we play as a team that does excite me again.

Rhodes coming in may change that, time will tell. He had a solid debut providing the assist for the goal. Sasso filled in for Tom Lees and didn’t disgrace himself either. He’s a good back up who can fill in if needed.

Carlos has been backed from the top down to the attendances we’ve been getting, especially with the Rhodes addition which I thought would never happen.

Now, he must deliver and get the best out of the squad we’ve got. It’s about mentality and that stems from the manager. To clarify, I’m not in the “Carlos out” camp. If he does well I’ll praise him and if he doesn’t I’ll criticise.

 

PRE-MATCH

 

I was feeling slightly optimistic; with due respect against a team we should be beating at home if we’re serious about going up. Carlos has the tools and I was hoping that we will see some kind of an attacking mind-set.

I’m still annoyed in the manner in which Birmingham beat us in September. We owe them one for that.

With 17 games remaining, we’ve got to do the business where there will be expectancy in winnable fixtures, starting with this one. The onus is on us to break defences down.

City came from behind to beat Wednesday earlier this sesaon

The line-up was pretty much what I thought it would be – Fernando on the left, Rhodes and Winnall up top and Hutch back from his ban.

The promotional video pre game was well produced/edited and exceeded expectations – it gave me a buzz.

It was interesting to see that the Birmingham fans were allocated the lower tier.

Just my opinion but I reckon it was to make the stadium look a bit fuller for a live TV game on a Friday night.

We did this most times in League One. It’s better as they’re closer to the pitch. We should do it more if we know the away team won’t bring as many fans and if demand is high, we get the top tier (if approved by the numpties that are the Safety Advisory Group).

 

FIRST HALF

 

The game started in lively fashion. A cross in from Hunt found Winnall and Kuszczak made the save to put the ball behind. The following corner came to nothing.

Rhodes gets on the end of a Wallace FK

Bannan had an effort from long range and we almost got lucky as a defender got to the ball after it was spilled by Kuszczak. Winnall fired a shot over moments later.

He was looking a danger every time he got the ball.

Then we get a free kick on the right hand side.

Ross Wallace whips it into the box and that man Jordan Rhodes was there to climb above everyone else to score his first (of many I hope) goal in an Owls shirt.

1-0!

A deserved lead. Was lovely to see him sprint to the dugout to celebrate with his dad Andy.

Chances were coming and another one for Sam Winnall. Too much space on the right and the header wasn’t on target. This was the best start I’ve seen from us since the opening day.

It was never going to be plain sailing though was it?

A Birmingham free kick was drifted into the box and Hutch headed it onto his own post. A huge sigh of relief. We were beginning to live dangerously as Nsue smashed an effort against the post – Westwood has no chance.

Every attack of ours was coming down our right side; Birmingham’s left back was clearly discovered as the weak point. A Forestieri centre found Winnall but his deflected effort went just wide.

Bannan went down just before the break and was OK to carry on.

 

HALF TIME: WEDNESDAY 1-0 BIRMINGHAM

 

A lead that was worthy but could easily have been better or worse. Birmingham a bit unfortunate after hitting the woodwork twice and responded well.

Lovely stuff

We seemed to take our foot off the pedal after scoring and gave them a bit of momentum.

They had more of the ball but we had more chances and were a constant threat on the break. I was a bit disappointed we weren’t leading by two or three.

 

SECOND HALF

 

We started the second half with the same attacking intensity.

A lovely move involving Bannan and Wallace found Winnall but it was a tame effort and Kuszczak made a simple save.

Birmingham won a free kick on the edge of the area after Fox was penalised – Gardner took it and it went into the side netting, although I think Westwood had it covered.

An hour in and we were looking fairly comfortable. Birmingham weren’t maintaining the ascendancy that they once had since the start of the second half. We weren’t creating much either.

Back in the fold

Kieftenbeld was the first man to be cautioned but he was fortunate to not see red. The challenge on Fox was dangerous and studs were raised. Fortunately, he was subbed off almost straight away.

First sub was about to be made and Reach was about to come on. I, and people around me, were expecting Winnall to get replaced and Forestieri to go up top. That wasn’t the case as it was Forestieri who made way. He didn’t seem happy.

We were hanging on as Gardner hit the crossbar – a superb effort but nothing to show for it.

Then a breakaway found Jack Hunt who delivered a peach of a cross (you won’t hear that very often), with power and accuracy and Winnall dived in low for a deserved goal. The passion in his celebration showed how much it meant to him.

2-0!

Big goal

That cross was on point and well met by Winnall.

It was fantastic to see, something we have missed for years.

Deliveries like that into the box means goals. Strikers (and centre backs when attacking) live off good service.

It really knocked the stuffing out of Birmingham, who weren’t playing badly by any means, but were undone by a bit of quality that they obviously lacked.

Again, we won the ball back in the middle finding Winnall who played though Reach in in goal, after being knocked over by defender Robinson.

The referee, quite rightly, played advantage and Reach kept his cool to roll the ball in. Robinson was not long after booked for that challenge.

3-0!

The rest of the game passed without worry. A comprehensive win in the end.

 

FULL TIME: WEDNESDAY 3-0 BIRMINGHAM

 

Well, Hillary Clinton called it.

These Friday night games aren’t so bad after all, eh?

Very chuffed with 3 goals and a clean sheet (that’s 13 now and there’s a strong chance we’ll break the record of 17 that we’ve equalled in the last 2 seasons.) It was a flattering scoreline but goals win games and we had the quality in finishing.

First half we looked good.

Second half we were second best for most of it, I was convinced they’d equalise.

New strike force

If that shot had gone in just before Winnall scored (the one that hit the bar), I may not be sat here talking about a victory. On another night, they could’ve scored a couple.

Ultimately we counter attacked well and capitalised on some poor defending. It’s fine margins again but it looked like the Wednesday of last season in patches which was encouraging.

We looked a lot better than for a while IMO.

Birmingham are a better side overall than Wigan but we were so much better going forward and it made a difference.

We got the ball into the box a lot more than what I can remember all season.

The crossing quality was sometimes missing but twice, at least, it was spot on and in Winnall and Rhodes we’ve now got two strikers who look to attack the ball given the service. We could have a great partnership on our hands.

Fernando didn’t have the greatest of games.

We looked better when he went off which tells you something. He was replaced because he wasn’t tracking back, leaving Fox exposed.

Reach tucks away his first goal at Hillsborough

He will have games like this but it’s clear to say he’s not an automatic pick anymore.

It shows how far we’ve grown as a squad.

Our success is no longer reliant on him which can only be a good thing. Reach coming on did both the forward and defensive role well and got a goal to boot, basically doing everything he didn’t do.

Fair play to Carlos, he got it spot on taking him off.

Winnall has got mobility which was something we didn’t have in the first half of the season.

Not expecting too much too soon from the lad but he can only get better. When we signed him, do you think we had serious intentions of signing Rhodes as well?

I’m not knocking Winnall as I think he’s got a lot of promise.  I personally believed we signed him because we couldn’t get Rhodes but I think the opportunity arose and we went for it.

I’d love to see them play together more. Winnall came here in great form and you can’t let that go to waste. Regardless, Hooper and Fletcher will be equally as important for the run in.

I would mention big Atdhe but I think he’s surplus to requirements and will be gone before too long, maybe in the summer.

Two-thirds into the season and I still don’t think we haven’t performed anywhere near last season’s level yet.

From what I’ve seen, I’m not overly convinced. I still have my reservations about where we’re going but, for the moment, I’m content and I refuse to get carried away. Let’s take it one game at a time and see where it takes us.

Play offs is the best we can hope for given the points difference. It’s not impossible of course, a lot of things can still happen but we’ve left ourselves too much to do. Regardless, I’d rather focus on what we do; other results will take care of themselves.

Onto Blackburn at home on Valentine’s Day (or Tuesday for the singletons or whichever you prefer.)

Another winnable game but also where complacency can easily creep in. Let’s hope we carry on with the momentum.

UTO!

OWLS ALIVE circliar yeller SPACE

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

Images: SWFC


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