RAMBLE: Wednesday 1-1 Burton Albion
After Saturday’s performance, the mood is high with the Wednesday faithful.
It has been a while since we had seen our team put on the type of dominant goal rich performance that became a semi-regular occurrence last year.
However, Tuesday brought a new challenge with Burton Albion, sitting just above the relegation spots with a win and 3 draws in their last 5 games, a team who set up to steal a goal where they can then sit back and ride out the game to help secure another season of Championship football.
This is also a team who beat Wednesday 3-1 in the reverse fixture, using set pieces and counter attacks to pick us apart.
Away from the good vibes that Saturday provided, this would prove to be a very tough game.
I did the usual of waiting on the team news when a friend (the Derby fan from my previous ramble of the away fixture) sent me a text saying “has the Burton bus pulled up yet?”
Where I live I have an issue where the team buses park outside my kitchen window, blocking the light, and also in a strange way, interfere with my Wi-Fi in my living room.
A performance to live up to
Alas, he was not worried about the plants in my window getting the last of the days light, he was talking about the other bus been parked in front of goal, the same one that had prevented Derby from scoring just over two weeks ago.
My friend arrived and we headed towards the ground, into ASDA to get our usual pre-game drink and an M&M Brownie.
Today, Asda had sold out of the Brownies; we both took this as a sign and worried what the night would bring us.
The team news wasn’t a surprise, Hutchinson would miss tonight to be replaced by Jones, and the rest of the starting 11 from the Norwich game would stay in place.
The bench had the only head scratcher with McManaman dropping from the team entirely to be replaced by the returning Will Buckley.
Carlos would confirm it was a small injury and he should be back shortly, but considering Almen “now you see me, now you don’t” Abdi and Gary “aggravated an injury in the under 23s game” Hooper’s injury woes, I can’t help but think McManaman might be missing his opportunity.
In the ground with the game ready to kick off, I was surprised by the small size of Burtons support, with the distance been relatively small I expected a bigger turn out, but that did not stop them from making a lot of noise.
From the whistle, the game started off quite scrappy with both teams trying to assert themselves in the early knockings, hurrying the player on the ball forcing both sides into errors.
Another chance for these two to shine
Wednesday are playing a high pressing game which stops Burton from planting their feet too much early on; however it does lead to Burton getting the first good chance of the game.
John “greatest right-back in football” Brayford play’s a long ball that catches Loovens off guard; the ball is crossed but headed wide.
An early warning that while Burton are happy to sit back, they can be dangerous on the counter.
After the scrappy start, the high press starts to pay off and Wednesday are able to get off some chances, Hunt and Wallace combined brilliantly in the first half on several chances and this was the first, after some slick passing the ball is sent in for Sam Winnall to get a shot away, the shot is blocked however which leads to another Burton break away which is quickly dealt with.
Another chance comes shortly afterwards, Burton stay compact in the box to defend while the midfield try to find space, the ball is crossed from the right after some good work by Wallace and Rhodes, to Bannan on the edge of the box who sends off a shot that goes wide.
The break we were waiting for came as a surprise at the 16 minute mark, Ross Wallace found some space around 30 yards out, sent a shot to the bottom right corner that somehow creeps past the keepers outstretched hand, into the post and into the back of the net.
The amount of times Wallace can convert from this distance is astonishing, and it gives Burton something to think about when it comes to letting some of our midfielders have space near the box.
Great strike: 1-0
Burton look to step up the intensity, if they are going to keep the run going they are going to have to push forward.
This comes out in some hard tackles to Forestieri who falls to the floor and takes a while to get to his feet, a few voices around me shout “get up” at him, which considering how he struggled through the rest of the first half was obviously the right thing to shout.
Rhodes becomes the next victim, advantage is played on this one but it comes to nothing.
Between these challenges, the ball falls to Bannan who sends another shot from outside the box into the stands, he is obviously fancying his chances today.
Burton hit the attack again, which leads to one pretty good stop, then an unbelievable save from a Burton cross that is nudged towards goal.
The Kop gives Westwood a standing ovation for this one, but now we had a corner to defend.
Big save, big player
Burton have some danger from set-pieces, and it could be seen here, the ball is played to the near post where it is headed right to Jackson Irvine who volleys the ball hard, it hits the back of the net before anyone can react.
One-all and now the job will be tough again.
Wednesday push forward; trying to once again go up on the score sheet, Sasso carries the ball to the Burton box where Bannan has another go at shooting from distance, his best yet but still not on target.
Jones is running the midfield well, making up for the lack of intensity that we rely on from Hutchinson with intelligent passing and reading the game well.
However while trying to attack; the pressing game that had brought us some success early on has gone which is allowing Burton the space to counter when our attacks fail.
Burton have now moved their fullbacks in field with their wide players falling back into those positions creating a back 6.
Forestieri creates a chance, taking on the 3 defensive midfielders and getting the ball to Wallace who sends his ball into the box a little too high for Winnall who can’t connect with it properly, sending the ball over the bar.
Just before halftime, Burton break again and win a corner, Wednesday break from that corner but Burton recover to stop a shot getting to goal.
A quick burst of energy to end the half.
HALF TIME: Wednesday 1-1 Burton Albion
The second half saw Burton fully sit back with their back six, allowing Wednesday to play the ball around but quickly moving forward on anyone who came within 30 yards of goal.
There is a chance from an advantage after Forestieri is fouled again, but we are unable to break down Burton’s defence.
The first substitution comes as Reach is brought on for Ross Wallace, who heads for the tunnel before the board is even lifted.
Another injury worry?
Reach starts by giving away a silly free kick in a dangerous position, Burton fail to capitalise but Hunt jumps into a rash challenge to give them another go at it.
Fox challenges for possession
By this point the pace of the game had completely slowed and the frustration was starting to grow in the midfield, Jones who had been steady throughout started to misplace passes, chances are not reaching the box, and the only shot on goal this half falls tamely into the hands of the goalkeeper.
Carlos looked to change up our fortunes by bringing Steven Fletcher on for Sam Winnall, hoping his height and hold up play might make a difference.
Jordon Rhodes is working hard and manages to fire a shot that is fumbled by the keeper, but quickly recovered.
With 15 minutes to go, Wednesday are struggling to deal with the Burton bus, now fully parked in front of the Kop end goal.
We get another chance from a corner where Forestieri attempts an overhead kick that fails to trouble the keeper.
Foresiteri has come out in the second half with his working boots on, refusing to give up on any challenge or loose ball.
Another great chance comes, Reach’s pace is starting to make a difference to our attacking options, he sends a shot across the goal that 3 players fail to get on the end of, Burtons defence finally let some light through but we just couldn’t capitalise.
At this point the Ball Boy knocked over one of the advertising boards, a little bit of levity while the team struggle for chances.
Here is where the Burton bus finally put the handbrake on, players going down on every challenge, every set piece is taking forever to take, they are fully content with a draw, or so it seems.
Out of nowhere, Burton go on a late attack catching the Wednesday defence off guard but failing to get a solid shot on target.
This would have been a cruel ending to a tough night but the Wednesday defence responded well.
4 minutes went up on the board, and Wednesday tried to make one last push forward, but the Burton bus was unmovable, the final whistle goes without the last big chance.
Carlos put it best in his post-match press conference; one team came with the intention of stealing a point, which is understandable, while the other team tried to win.
Wednesday have struggled this season with teams who sit back like this, and while they did create chances, they just couldn’t get the ball to fall right.
Four points from two games: good enough
There are some positives, the majority of players put in 100% and worked themselves hard to try and get a result, Forestieri, Jones, Reach, and Bannan all put in great performances, as well as the partnership between Wallace and Hunt which paid off well in the first half.
Another bonus is that we still have a 5 point cushion as Fulham secured a late draw with Leeds.
There will be the comments from the usual suspects that this is the sort of game that we should be winning, but Burton have gotten very good at playing this game, with 4 draws in a row from this style of play.
We need to take the positives of this game with us to Aston Villa on Saturday as the playoff push continues, sadly not all games can be as rewarding as Norwich.
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