Mark rises to challenge

Early strike: Mark Beevers third-minute header in the 3-2 win at Oldham in midweek was the Owls' fastest league goal of the season
Early strike: Mark Beevers third-minute header in the 3-2 win at Oldham in midweek was the Owls' fastest league goal of the season
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QUICK on the draw and eager for more - that’s Mark Beevers as he strives to add extra firepower to his improved defending.

The centre-half is proud to learn that his third-minute opener in the 3-2 victory at Oldham was the club’s fastest league goal of the season.

He also believes that the Owls’ growing prowess at set pieces should give him further opportunities.

“I was due another goal and I’d like to get more,” he said.

“The gaffer has been pleased with our set-pieces, for and against. We could have had a few more goals from them.

“We’re a threat in the air. I’ve got height. I don’t think we’ve used our height to our advantage enough this season but we’ve been working on it in training and it’s started to work.”

The Owls have scored three goals from corners in their last three games, with Tommy Miller, Reda Johnson and Beevers the marksmen.

Manager Gary Megson says: “In this division I don’t think you’ll see a better delivery from corners than what we can get from Gary Teale and Tommy Spurr, and we work hard on set-pieces.”

Beevers’ goal at Oldham, from a Teale cross, was only his third of the season - hence his belief that it was overdue and his hope that he get another against Notts County tomorrow, as his previous two came back to back in November: in the 3-0 home League win against Walsall, and the 3-2 FA Cup victory against Northampton.

His effort against Walsall came in the sixth minute, so that too was among the club’s fastest goals of the season.

The only goal faster than the defender’s header at Boundary Park came in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, in the second minute against Notts County - the first of two for James O’Connor that night.

Too often this season the Owls have themselves conceded early goals, for example in the last home match, against Plymouth, but away from home they have now hit form.

Mille’s 20th-minute strike contributed to a seven-point haul from the last three trips.

Beevers says: “We worked hard against Oldham and deserved the win. I felt as if I was back to my usual self, and the same goes for the team.

“We need to aim for consistency, week in week out, and take those sort of results home with us.

“We conceded two goals against Oldham but one was a deflection and the other a fantastic strike. Were those down to defensive errors? I don’t think so.

“If he hadn’t come out with a victory, we’d have felt hard done by.

“We slipped up at home against Plymouth; we’ve got to put that right, go back to Hillsborough and show what

we have been doing in the last three away games.”

Megson believes the recent goals for defenders and midfield players - among them Giles Coke’s cracker against Plymouth - show the value of training-ground work and of using the current system properly.

It may look like 4-5-1, when the other team have the ball, but wingers and

midfield players are expected to get forward and support the central striker when the Owls are going forward, which paid off with Chris Sedgwick’s double at Oldham.

Megson also points out: “Gary Teale hit the bar against Plymouth, when he should have scored, and he put one over the top at Carlisle.

“When the ball comes in from one wing we want the winger on the opposite side, and at least one midfield player, to get up in support of the centre forward.

“Chris did exactly what we have asked of him; you get your reward if you get in there.”

Megson confirmed that Michael Morrison will play tomorrow, after his sterling show at right back.

There will be checks on Gary Madine (calf), who went off on Tuesday, and Giles Cokes (hamstring) who missed out.

Matchfacts

The Teams

OWLS (probable): Weaver; M Morrison, R Johnson, Beevers, Spurr; Sedgwick, Osbourne, Miller, O’Connor, Teale: Madine or C Morrison (4-5-1).

MAGPIES (possible); Nelson; Darby, Edwards, Pearce or Lee, Harley; Gow, Bishop, Ravenhill, McDonald, Westcarr; Hughes or Demba-Nyren (4-5-1)

The Referee

Mark Brown (East Yorkshire): Was recently suspended for posting a football-related jokebook on social networking sites, which is thought to have included a gag about Steven Gerrard and Liverpool’s unlikely chance of winning honours this season.