RAMBLE | Wednesday 1-1 Barnsley

RAMBLE | Wednesday 1-1 Barnsley

We’re nearly a third of the way through our landmark anniversary season, and what a season it’s turning out to be.

Following the disappointment of the playoff penalty defeat, the club were quick to cheer fans up with the unveiling of our anniversary kit.

A return to the distinctive blue and white stripes with a regal gold trim to add that bit of something special. Selling it at £35 a pop is a great gesture too.

A prestige friendly against Real Madrid sees José Semedo captain the club for an emotional final appearance as he comes up against his life-long pal Ronaldo on the hallowed turf of Hillsborough, which it has to be said is looking resplendent after an extensive paint job over the summer months.

Owls in the Park was an incredible spectacle, with a main stage hosting interviews with Owls legends throughout the day before a rousing set by Reverend and the Makers saw the evening out with a backdrop of a wonderful firework display and people gorging themselves on world record breaking cake.

It’s been a blistering start to the season with our marquee signing George Boyd tearing defences to shreds as he cuts in from the right, with a rejuvenated Forestieri doing the same from the opposite side feeding top-scorer Hooper with chance after chance.

The team now look a potent force again.

Carlos’ new tactic of 3-4-3 seems to be getting the best out of the players at his disposal; the defence seems impenetrable, the midfield full of running and energy, the forward line a constant menace to opposition defences.

The Owls sit respectably in the top three, jousting for superiority with our high flying neighbours and the bookies favourites Wolves.

 

Back to life, back to reality

 

Problematic…

Oh what could have been… at least the cake was nice.

Everything about our anniversary is becoming a snowballing farce of a “celebration”.

The kit… a homage to the shirt of the 60s that saw the start of our demise as a force in English football seems a suitable choice at the moment.

Although I really don’t give a hoot about having a brand (it’s the logo on the other side of the chest that’s important) at least a half reputable sports company would have delivered a product on time.

The boy’s been saving his pocket money for this for, well, a long time – so being the dutiful father I had a trip down to the club shop on Wednesday morning to pick it up for him.

Much has been made about the non-discount cost, but believe me this boy will get his money’s worth out of this shirt… I’m reckoning it will probably end up being about 33p per wear by the end of the season. I don’t get that kind of value for money out of my socks.

So today it got its third outing (already down to £11.66 per wear) and its first to a match.

After the club had boasted about monumental numbers of sales I’d expected to see a few more of the new kits around, but very few people seemed to be wearing them… except the kids.

 

PRE-MATCH

 

Are we set for a year of mediocrity?

Pre match beers was a sombre affair.

For me, the season is already over.

Not that I believe we are so far behind the top six that we’ll never catch it.

But I do believe that by stubbornly sticking by Carlos, Chansiri has etched the rest of this season in stone. He has basically said that mediocrity is okay.

Winning one out of the last six is fine, so long as you carry on with the bravado, insisting that we CAN still be promoted. Playing predictable, dull football is fine, so long as you can blame poor results on referees.

Being in 16th position after a quarter of the season is perfectly fine, because Hull are in 17th with equally high expectations.

Rubbish.

All rubbish.

So when the team news dropped it barely made me raise an eye brow.

4-4-2. Hoops and Fletch. Bannan and Lee… van Aken back in… Bloody Wallace.

I know we have injuries and suspensions. But how can a manager with such squad depth – such talent at his disposal – continue to keep faith with players who are letting him down week after week after week?

I try convincing myself each match… today’s the day… today’s the day we’ll see something different. I don’t know, maybe that Portuguese ‘club captain’ centre back that we haven’t seen a minute of yet will come in to a three man defence and provide the leadership we’re missing.

Perhaps Joao will feature somewhere… maybe as a winger, giving us a bit of pace. Or a surprise place on the bench for young Hirst… But that’s another story of ineptitude that’s probably best left for now.

Predictable line-ups costing us?

But no. Not today.

The phone was returned swiftly to the pocket and we continued the chat we were having about schoolboy football.

This had been brought about by the boy recounting a goal that he scored a couple of weeks ago for the school football team.

It was a great goal to be fair. A tidy little drag back in midfield saw him escape the attention of three players before feeding it into space for a team mate to hit a shot against the bar, but Tom had continued his run and nodded the looping ball into the open net.

Proud dad moment.

Star of the future

I told him that it reminded me of Rhodes and Fessi linking up for Fernando to score that diving header against…

Someone, can’t remember who (I should do, I think I did the ramble for it…) in front of the kop last season.

We carried on talking about the good/bad old days of school football in the early nineties. The mud. The moth-eaten mismatched kits.

The knackered minibuses and badly organised ‘friendlies’ against lads from three years above you who had bumfluff moustaches and smelt of Silk Cut and Lynx.

The mud. These days it’s all 4G pitches and brand new ‘Premier League Stars’ sponsored kits.

Don’t know they’re born.

We began the walk down to the ground and as conversation turned to predictions I scanned the ground for conkers.

The huge horse chestnut trees on Wadsley Lane always good for a few monsters.

I kicked through leaves and conker shells. Nothing. But what’s this? A lovely, crisp, brand new £5 note lay on the path ahead of me.

I thought given the blustery weather it would escape my clutches, but it sat there waiting for me to bend down and scoop it up into my grateful hands. A lucky day perhaps? I held it in my hand for a while, ready to be honest and give it back to whichever unfortunate soul walking ahead of us piped up with “S***, I’ve lost a fiver!”

But nobody did, so I pocketed it.

The predictions had gone the way of 2-1 Wednesday and 2-0 Wednesday.

I chirped up with my scorer predictions. Reach and Lee. I was urged to stick that fiver on 2-1 with the two aforementioned scorers… should see quite a return.

The cynic in me knows never to bet on Wednesday so I ignored the suggestion.

 

THE MATCH

 

The first half started with promise.

An early flurry of corners in front of the Kop saw a chance, a half chance and a good instinctive save from ex owl Adam Davies.

It was all Wednesday, but Wednesday doing it their way and seeing a lot of possession without really testing the keeper.

Fletcher, man of the first half, was winning his flick ons, taking the ball down neatly, chasing lost causes, looking quite sharp as he escaped the attention of the defenders.

Man of the first half

They were clearly more interested in feeling up Gary Hooper, who it has to be said had more cuddles than a child’s favourite toy during the first half. The referee wasn’t interested though… keep that one banked as an excuse, should we need it.

Barnsley broke a couple of times, once when van Aken got spun on the half way line, and another foray which was ultimately fruitless but was inexplicably brought back for a free kick by the ref after he’d allowed an advantage to be played out to nothing (That ‘dodgy ref’ excuse still good to go).

The resulting free kick was palmed away for a corner by Westwood.

Could Lee provide some spark?

The Owls continued to faff around with it across the back line, sometimes needlessly, prompting a frustrated Westwood to bellow “COME OOOON!” to his pedestrian centre backs as they failed to make an incisive pass forward when the gaps in Barnsley’s midfield were plain to see.

The game needed something, and Keiren Lee nearly provided it. Digging the ball out of his feet and hitting an outswinging shot against the post.

Davies was beaten, and left sprawled on the floor as the ball seemed to be dropping to Fletcher, but under pressure from a defender he lacked the composure to follow in the rebound, instead lashing wildly in to the kop.

I was becoming increasingly frustrated.

I even did a little swear at the referee. Tom spun round and stared at me aghast… Dad never swears… it must be bad.

It was all soooo frustrating. Yet another attack for Wednesday saw the ball fall to Reach in the box, but Reach being Reach he somehow managed to slip and scuff the ball into the air.

I cursed (this time under by breath) and threw my crumpled scarf to the ground, slumped with my head in my hands staring at my shoes. Why can we not just bloody score?

Hang on.

Everyone’s cheering.

I looked up at the scoreboard to see the letters G-O-A and L dancing around. What the chuff has just happened? I looked at Tom, he seemed as bemused as me. In fact he still didn’t know what was going on as I joined in the celebrations.

Reach ‘fires’ Wednesday ahead… (The Sun)

I asked my dad… “What happened?” “Lobbed the keeper” he replied.

I waited for the replay on the screen, which seems to take an age when you’ve missed a goal. Lobbed? Yeah right.

Turns out Reach’s slip had enabled him to scuff the ball against his slipping right leg and loop a self-deflected miskick over a despairing Davies.

Spozzy get. Not that we’re complaining. Bet’s on! That is if I’d put the money on.

Wednesday could have doubled their lead before the interval from another corner, this time seeing the ball scrambled clear after I think Tom Lees had forced it goalwards.

If that had gone in the whole game would undoubtedly be a different story.

 

HT: Wednesday 1-0 Barnsley

 

As it was, half time came and went and play resumed, with Wednesday attacking the Leppings Lane end in the second half.

The game was now a more even affair with a lot of play in midfield. Wednesday tried walking it in to the net a few times, screams of “just bloody shoot” falling on deaf ears.

Jack Hunt could have had a rare goal but for a desperate clearance taking it off his head after a Bannan cross had looped over the keeper towards the back stick.

Reach celebrates

Apart from that… not much to report.

Fans became uneasy as they saw David Jones re-doubling his warm ups and stripped off, Carlos obviously wanting to protect this fragile 1-0 home lead for the final third of the game against a woeful Barnsley side… which manager wouldn’t eh?

However, it was Butterfield who was ushered into action after Pudil had to be taken off with a knock.

The team were still adjusting to the reshuffle of Reach to left back, Bannan out wide and Butterfield tucking in deep when we were hit with the inevitable sucker-punch, Barnes cutting in from the left and planting a worldy into the top corner, way beyond Westwood’s outstretched left palm. S**t.

Barnes celebrates (The Sun)

Carlos responded by throwing on first Rhodes, and then Joao. But it was too late.

The heads had dropped. The crowd had turned. A few late bizarre reffing decisions only added to the fury as The Owls huffed and puffed but ultimately couldn’t blow up a bloody balloon.

 

FULL TIME: Wednesday 1-1 Barnsley

 

Questions to answer?

Woeful. Truly woeful. This was a poor performance from Barnsley, even their manager said so in his post-match presser.

A poor Barnsley performance, and we couldn’t beat them. Carlos amazingly blamed lady luck for us not winning today… he must have missed our goal like I had.

His post-match press conference could have been a recording from last week’s game… or the week before. It’s becoming as boring and predictable as our game plan.

Now one win in seven. A third of the season gone. A squad of undoubted talent and significant value languishing in the bottom half of the table.

I’m sorry Carlos, but everthing is NOT “oreyt”.

Joe
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: owlsalive@gmail.com
Twitter: @OwlsAlive and @GrenoOwl

Images: SWFC, unless stated


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