RAMBLE: Wednesday 5-1 Norwich City

RAMBLE: Wednesday 5-1 Norwich City

Some things only happen once in a blue moon.

Halley’s comet passing, blue bins being emptied and 3pm Saturday games at Hillsborough.

After a lazy morning in bed watching Soccer AM the troops were roused.

The wife and daughter were off shopping and visiting the hairdressers leaving the boy and myself for a long afternoon of football nonsense.

The recent tepid displays must be having an effect on Tom, as for the second game running he said he didn’t want to go. Tough!

Yes he’s only eight, last season was his first proper full season following The Owls, and he followed them all the way to Wembley.

Not every season will be like that.

I had my first season ticket at the same age on the old wooden seats of the uncovered Lower South Stand.

The Wilkinson-led Owls were in their first season back in the top flight donning a flashy new Umbro kit.

I used to wear my full replica kit to every game… just in case.

Every home game was a Saturday 3pm kick off and it’d home straight after for home-made cheese flan and chips with Rolf Harris on the telly.

In the 30 odd years since then I’ve witnessed some unbelievable highs and more believable lows.

There were times I’d not felt like going too, but you take the rough with the smooth. So get your coat, son.

Pep talk over he got dressed into his full kit – shin pads and under armour included – Adidas Messi boots and match day tracksuit… just in case Carlos runs out of subs and needs someone from the crowd (every boy’s dream it seems).

 

PRE-MATCH

 

I always enjoy playing against Norwich at Hillsborough, always seem to be decent games full of incident.

We also do well against them, the last time we lost at home to them was a 5-0 spanking in 2001.

I reminded the wife on the way down that I took her to the Norwich game the day after we got married, the hopeless romantic that I am.

We won 3-2, last game of the season, and a ridiculous own goal by Etuhu in front of the kop.

“Hmmm,” she remembers fondly, “some girls get whisked off to the Bahamas, not me though.”

Halcyon days for football strips

She dropped me and the boy, and Richard who was also in tow, at the pub and tootled off down to Hillsborough centre.

It was quiet in the pub today. Usually it’s 3 or 4 deep at the bar and standing room only, but no problems today.

A pint of American Pale and a famous Jump pork pie with a dollop of Coleman’s.

Ooops, hope that doesn’t prove bad luck.

I must have been in a nostalgic mood as pub talk centred around childhood games such as Wembley and three-and-in.

We checked with Tom that the games still existed and were relieved to learn they do… with a few minor rule changes.

These things happen, the offside rule has changed five times in my life time.

We reminisced about how everyone seems to have a short period of enjoying being the goalie because you overcome the fear of throwing yourself on the floor, and that in amateur football it’s to that position that you ultimately return after a heyday of being the star striker, then moving out to the wing, then to centre mid, then left back before putting the gloves on because you don’t have the legs for it any more.

Team news buzzed through.

Abdi and Reach out, Bannan and Winnall in.

Back in the team

Had I missed something? I must have because Abdi wasn’t even in the squad.

Presumably injured as I think his recent performances had been okay.

Yes he’s been tidy on the ball and makes space well, but he lacks the thrust that Bannan and Lee (who we are missing immensely in my opinion) bring to the side.

We looked at the balance of the side.

Playing Forestieri on the left and Wallace on the right meant two inside forwards, both cutting in and running at the defence, threading through balls or having a shot.

We mused that maybe Norwich had a couple of big centre backs and we weren’t going to win the aerial battle today.

Fox still in the side too.  I’m really not sure about him as I think I touched on in my last ramble. Still, let’s see how he goes with yet another player in front of him.

 

THE MATCH

 

Carlos’ pre match rallying call was “it’ll be reyt”, once again meeting the doubters head on and remaining unmoved in his tactics, ethos and game plan.

However the recent criticism must have touched a nerve throughout the squad because Wednesday started brightly, pressing high up the pitch and forcing the play.

This is how the first goal game about, Hutchinson chasing his own charge down; a hopeless cause as the ball was rolling out of play towards the corner flag and Ruddy with plenty of time to clear up the wing.

You wonder whether this would have happened a couple of weeks ago, or whether Hutch would do the sensible thing and resume his anchor man position in readiness for defending the clearance.

But today he did, and it’s a good job.

The pressure didn’t allow Ruddy to get enough on his kick, and narrowed the angle so the only place he could put it was up the line where it dropped to Wallace.

Everyone knew what was coming.

A touch out of his feet, on to his left and from fully 45 yards found the back of the net through the malaise of scrambling Canaries.

Hutch and Fox congratulate Wallace

The Wednesday of two weeks ago would have probably slowed the pace there, remain organised and stifle the opposition as they search for a reply.

Not today though.

The relentless Forestieri powered down the wing with purpose before cutting on to his favoured foot and finding Rhodes with a pin point cross.

The poacher had found himself in good space, unmarked, and such was the quality of the delivery he didn’t have to move or jump, just angle his header into the bottom right corner.  Two – nil.

Rhodes: 2-0

Norwich rallied and got one back from a well-rehearsed set piece that we struggled to deal with, the short kick taking us by surprise before a ricocheted shot looped over Westwood and found Jerome waiting to nod home at the far post.

Not what we needed just before half time. However, the two goal cushion was restored a few minutes later as Fox netted his first for the club, a neat diving header from a Forestieri corner in front of the Kop.

 

HALF TIME: Wednesday 3-1 Norwich

Fox celebrates the third

 

A strange feeling at half time.

We were happy, confident and felt entertained.

There were no moans or grumbles (other than the speed of service at the bar) and even started getting carried away with ourselves “we’ll get another couple yet,” I confidently predicted.

And indeed we did.

The second half began with the same purpose that had been evident in the first half, and soon Rhodes had his second headed goal of the day, this time Bannan dinking a beautifully inviting little clip over the top of the defence for Jordan to power past the forlorn keeper.

The Norwich fans remained in full voice though with chants of “We want Neil out” and “Don’t get excited, we’re s*** every week” interspersed with “4-1, and you still don’t sing”.

We soon put an end to that.

A free kick from a central position about 25 yards out was won and Forestieri and Wallace mused over what to do.

Fessi actually picked up the ball and moved it a little further away from goal by a few yards, obviously acutely aware of his range and ability (or lack of) to get the ball over the wall and back down again from so close.

What followed was a sublime curling bullet of a free kick over the wall and into the top corner. “We’re on our way! We’re on our way!”

Sublime

Then Carlos played his trump card.

The one player at his disposal capable of getting the crowd singing for the remainder of the match without doing anything special.

Enter Semedo. If I was a Norwich fan I’d be bemused as to why a sub with not much game time over the last couple of seasons would get so much adulation, but we know the full story.

Each of his seven or so touches of the ball were greeted with a rousing applause.

Wednesday were playing the clock down now after an energy sapping performance.

 

FULL TIME: Wednesday 5-1 Norwich City

 

A game where every player came out of it with a solid 8 out of 10… except Westwood who only had one shot to same all game and let it in…bloody useless.

Joking aside, it was very pleasing to see a side that had seemed so disjointed, bereft of confidence and lacking any spark only a week ago put in a performance like this today.

Norwich now must feel they are out of it, which basically means Fulham are the only team challenging the current top six and with a game in hand on us, we’ll need this performance to be the start of another run to secure our playoff spot.

And if we perform like this in the playoffs, then our freshly renewed season tickets may well be tickets to watch Premier League football next year.

Semedo: still a key man

Meeting back up with the family, and Richard, in Sainsbury’s after the match, we decided on another pint so it was off to the Norfolk Arms.

We’ve not really done this much this season, more often than not just going straight home and cracking on with tea whilst listening to praise and grumble, quietly content with another uninspiring win to keep us in the playoff hunt.

There was a celebratory mood today though.

One that needed to continue as we enthusiastically talked about the tenacity of Fernando, the brilliance of Bannan, the instinct of Rhodes, the fire in Hutchinson’s eyes all coming together to produce a display worth toasting and chatting about.

Yes Carlos… It certainly did turn out all reyt.

OWLS ALIVE circliar yeller SPACE

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Joe
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: admin@owlsalive.com
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive and @GrenoOwl

Images: SWFC


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