RAMBLE | United 0-0 Wednesday

RAMBLE | United 0-0 Wednesday

Ah, the derby, there’s nothing quite like it.

Thankfully a long week at work had been a nice distraction from the building tension, stress and nerves.

Still, you find yourself imagining the game; the optimistic moods when you imagine a great victory or the moods of despair when you foresee a disaster. The fact we’ve already seen one of the latter this season doesn’t help.

Then there’s everything else: that we got thrashed by Burton at home, the fact we we’ve won one game in an eternity and the longest injury list the battle of the Somme.

It’s fair to say pessimism was the mood for most of the week.

Earlier in the week I nipped into Beer Central to stock up for pre-match beers (we didn’t fancy even trying pubs pre-match) and chatting to Sean, a Barnsley fan, I was surprised to hear that United fans were pessimistic too.

Apparently, they’ve been paranoid that we were going to bring back all our injured players. I guess football and its emotions encourages pessimism.

Anyway, with pessimism comes low expectations and that aligned with a new manager saying all the right things made the mood somewhat easier.

So, by 4pm on Friday, work was over and it was time to get back and start on those Beer Central beers with the others.

Beer Central (Image: CAMRA)

I was meeting Kieran at the Interchange with his grandad and we thought it’d be cheaper and easier to just get an Uber. Mistake.

It would’ve been quicker to walk or just get the bus. This was the series of events that followed:

1. We checked Uber but surge pricing meant that was out.

2. Kieren tried City Taxis and a taxi was on its way and then cancelled and then it was taking ages for another to come, so we moved around the corner in the hope of more success.

3. We found a City Taxi waiting in a taxi rank but he was uninterested even after requesting on the app.

4. We gave up and went for a black cab at the station. There’s always a taxi there. Nope. No taxis and a huge queue.

What on earth is going on? This is 4pm on a Friday in Sheffield and you’d think it was 4am in a backwater.

Eventually a City Taxi turned up and we were moving. Well as far as you can say moving when you’re stuck in traffic. Also, the driver wasn’t sure where Sharrow Vale Road was.

“Is that Bramall Lane”, he asked?

“No but we’re going there later. Don’t worry, I’ll direct you.”

Normally, I’d be really annoyed but by this point I was past caring and this driver was nice enough.

Eventually we got to our road and I nipped into my house to ditch my bag and grab my Beer Central beers from the fridge, and then it was down to James’ to start the pre-match drinking.

Beer O’Clock

As we arrived, James was there (obviously) along with Tom who was attending for the first time in months and we started drinking and putting the world to rights.

There was also a rumour doing the rounds that Jos Luhukay was going to go with a 3-5-2 system. I’ve been saying for about 18 months that our squad has been calling out for this.

James and I were also practising our correct pronunciation of Jos Luhukay. James was better at it than I was but the middle U was very tricky.

And in the spirit of our new manager, Kieran had bought some fake comedy moustaches to be worn at the match.

“We’ll definitely be on Sky if we wear them”, he claimed.

How to get on TV

Soon enough Jim appeared and amidst our sea of craft beer and real ale brought three bottles of lager.

There’s always one isn’t there? More importantly as we were mocking him for his lager drinking then team news came out and confirmed the rumours that we’re playing three at the back. At last! Maybe there’s a little hope yet.

And then it was time to set off for the 25-minute walk to the ground with our final beer for he the walk.

Mine was the always excellent Triple Chocolate Porter. Although the closer we got the ground, the faster I started drinking as at some point I could see a copper taking it off me on a day when you don’t want any involvement from them.

The atmosphere outside the ground was electric but thankfully there was no sign of trouble.

We found our turnstiles, but the queue was very very slow with all the extra checks. It must have taken a good ten minutes to get in but there was enough time for a final wee and in time for kick off!

 

THE MATCH

 

Similar to the Hillsborough match, United started at a million miles an hour and it didn’t take long for Morgan Fox to look under pressure.

I like the look of the back three. It really suits a player like Pudil who is solid defensively and he becomes a ball playing centre half effortlessly whilst Loovens and Venancio can be the solid centre halves around Pudil.

More importantly it was also time to bring out the comedy moustaches which seemed to work perfectly on Kieran and myself who were clean shaven but it wouldn’t stick to the others’ beards.

So in the end, it was just us.

Loovens launched himself into a silly tackle for his booking and as it happened I feared he would regret that.

United started brightly

65 minutes is a long time to play on a booking for a centre half in a Bramall Lane Sheffield Derby.

The atmosphere in the away end was electric as well.

It was a wall of noise and the exactly the sort of backing for the team that has been missing in too many away games this season.

Again, United continued to dominate but Wednesday were getting back into the game. Yet for all the huff and puff there wasn’t a shot on target or any major threat from either team.

Significantly we were looking a lot more solid at the back and it wasn’t just the shape. There was a different energy about the whole output from the team.

Then right on the stroke of half time they got a free kick on the edge of our box. I feared the worst. This was it. This was the moment that a hard fought 45 minutes would be undone.

This would be the moment that we sink as three sides of Bramall Lane erupt in a roar of elation. And then…. it went easily wide. And that was just about half time.

 

HT – United 0-0 Wednesday 

 

With no beer being sold and not wanting to give any additional revenue to United, it was just a quick piss and then wait for the second half.

When you’re not drinking those 15 minutes feel like an eternity.

Wildsmith: great night for the young ‘keeper

The second half picked up as the first half finished, with United attacking but Wednesday staying resolute. They were getting closer but Wildsmith was coming into the game with some great saves – to another round of “he’s one of our own.”

Wallace was proving a menace and Pudil had a very good chance too. Could we dear to dream?

Then on the counter Loovens panicked and lunged in on Donaldson. As soon as the foul was given, I feared the worst.

It was a clear yellow card and the referee seemed to take ages to bring it out. Maybe he’ll give him the benefit of the doubt? Oh no, there it is. That’ll be our undoing surely?

In actual fact, we played better and better.

Pudil re-organised the defence and we kept going, even attacking more.

We’d have taken a point before the match and now we’d take it straight away but we were starting to look the more threatening as United started to run out of steam and out of ideas.

And when they did there were more great moments from Wildsmith including a brilliant stop from a looping header, which looked a certain goal.

Boyd and Nuhiu were brought on and Atdhe in particular was getting the crowd going and was his usual menace self. It was starting to feel like we could grab something with ten men, Maybe even three points? When Reach volleyed well, it looked like it was going into the top corner. This was it … ready to explode … and then it was saved.

And that really was that.

 

FT – United 0-0 Wednesday

 

We stayed behind because we had to but we’d have done it anyway to show our appreciation for a brilliant rear guard performance, especially after the sending off when we looked the better team with a man less.

Eventually we got and hoped we’d be able to get out towards London Road and towards Sharrow Lane so we could go to the Stag on Psalter Lane, which we thought would be far away enough from the ground to avoid trouble but still on the way home and a good pub to boot.

Deserved applause

At first it didn’t look good as the police blocked us off. But thankfully we could get passed the coaches and in the right direction.

En-route to the pub we discussed the game and in particular Wildsmith.

In Westwood we’re missing one of the best keepers in the division but it doesn’t feel like it, thanks to Joe. I said that if we need to sell a player to avoid FFP penalties, we could sell Westwood and stick with Wildsmith and have Dawson as backup.

Then we reached the pub which was heaving so we settled on the Lescar who are still selling Wild Beer Company’s Pogo so it all worked out well. It was time for a couple more pints before drunkenly buying a pizza and heading for bed.

All in a good night’s work.

JP
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: owlsalive@gmail.com
Twitter: @OwlsAlive and @jpowls


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