sheffield Wednesday ended Hartlepool’s unbeaten start to the season with an excellent win at Victoria Park.
Reda Johnson scored the only goal of the match in the first half from a Ben Marshall throw in.
It seemed that part of Wednesday’s plan was to get the ball out to Marshall on the right wing as often as possible. O’Connor was playing on the left side of the midfield, which also meant him keeping an eye on potential danger man, Norbeto Solano. The 36 year old former Newcastle and Aston Villa star scored a super free kick at Bournemouth last week.
As at just about every ground in the country, the heat was severe and uncomfortable for the players, but they did not flag in the early stages. A foul by centre half Collins from behind on McGoldrick just inside the Hartlepool half was followed by treatment for the striker and a booking for the defender.
Players from both sides took advantage of the hold up in coming over to the touchline to refuel with swigs from water bottles. Wednesday began to play with a little bit of cohesion and Madine was unlucky to be penalised for his challenge on a defender when he produced an excellent lay off at the end of a slick move.
When the home team sensed an opportunity to do damage on the counter attack, Sweeney was running through the middle, Semedo got back to dispossess the midfielder. Out of nowhere, Wednesday grabbed the lead in the 33rd minute.
From the right, Marshall hurled a long throw to the near corner of the six yard box, where JOHNSON soared to glance a header into the keeper’s bottom right hand corner. It was the defender’s first goal of the season. The home team responded with a burst of pressure and for a moment they were round the back of Wednesday’s right flank in a very dangerous position.
Jones once again thwarted their efforts, stripping Liddel of the ball with a terrific block. Marshall was confident enough to go for goal with a free kick from at least 35 yards out and it was dipping under the bar forcing Flinders into making a good save.
Hartlepool took off Murray at half time,Sweeney moving in to centre midfield and brought on Horwood to play on the left. Four minutes into the half, Madine got himself in to trouble. The striker was slapped around the head by centre half Hartley, when they challenged for a ball midway in Hartlepool’s half. It may have been an accident but Madine had his doubts and his words with the opponent and the referee.
Madine kept up his protest and after Hartley offered his hand, the Wednesday player slapped it away and was booked. Jones had also been called over by the referee and the captain put his arms around Madine and pulled him away from the trouble.
Maybe it was because of the pressure that his team were coming under that Gary Megson took off Madine in the 67th minute and switched to a 4-5-1 formation,
with Palmer coming on to the right hand side of midfield and Marshall staying on the left. The change seemed to settle the team down and make life more difficult for the home side.
Hartlepool’s momentum was disrupted as Wednesday made a better job of keeping possession even if they didn’t really look like adding to their lead. Humphreys was withdrawn on 70 minutes, replaced by Poole, with Horwood moving to left back and Poole up front.
Johnson nearly made it 2-0 to the visitors with what would have been a spectacular if not fortunate goal. A high driven cross from the left was heading under the bar until Flinders turned it away with a good save.
For a full report, plus match pictures, see the Green’Un.