Match report: Sheffield Wednesday 1 Yeovil 1

Tempers flare up as team-mates pull away Owls Atdhe Nuhlu
Tempers flare up as team-mates pull away Owls Atdhe Nuhlu
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Hundreds of Wednesday fans stayed long enough after the final whistle to applaud players from the field because of the spirit and standards they had shown in the face of adversity.

The trouble is, it was Yeovil whom they were saluting - which just about summed a dismal day for the Owls.

The only consolation is that they did not lose.

But it is a shaker when the goalkeeper is the one eye-catching home player and Wednesday cannot beat a side who had collected no points and no goals from their previous four matches and played for 49 minutes on Saturday with 10 men.

Anyone who came very late and had not seen centre-half Byron Webster sent off for punching Atdhe Nuhiu probably would not have realised that Wednesday had a man more than the Glovers. But numerical superiority is the only superiority that they had.

At no stage did the Owls have control of the game, even though they took the lead with a goal that was much debated, yet correctly given.

Dave Jones’ side were short of spark, confidence, cohesion and quality, and the need for new blood in midfield and up front is increasingly pressing. Jones is also right to point out that the team are also conceding too many simple goals, despite having pretty experienced defenders. Maybe Roger Johnson, when he is up and running, will help.

Maybe Jones is right that a bit of anxiety or fear crept in on Saturday. Players will have known that everybody expected them to win, and tension spread when things did not go all their way.

It was a totally different scenario at Middlesborough a fortnight earlier when the Owls were the underdogs and could play their counter-attacking away game and picked up a deserved point for a battling performance, like they also did at Leeds.

But good players should be able to play anywhere.

Saturday’s game was also unusual in that Yeovil were given a cause to fight for. They must have felt the world was against them when they conceded what they perceived as an unjust goal and then were reduced to 10 men.

More sympathy for Wednesday would be justified if the Glovers had just tried to shut up shop. But they got men forward as well as defending well, and if a half-chance for sub Kevin Dawson had found its mark in the 80th minute home embarrassment would have been much deeper.

In games like this, where it is a struggle to make chances and the fluency is missing, then a goal-poacher might just make the difference. Wednesday still do not have one of those, but they were a tad unlucky when Wayne Hennessey fumbled a shot by Michail Antonio and it hit the post instead of going in.

Credit Antonio and Nuhiu too for playing to the whistle - unlike Yeovil - when they broke away after a through ball from Reda Johnson and earned the goal.

Glovers manager Gary Johnson thought Antonio and Nuhiu should both have been pulled up for offside after the flag went up; instead the ref waved play on.

Replays suggest the offside flag, against Nuhiu, was debatable to begin with. But in any case the centre-forward did not touch the ball. It was Antonio who ran on to it and crossed, so it was a legitimate goal though Nuhiu finished off the move.

Other incidents when Wednesday could have had some joy were an early, headed miss by Antonio and a header over the top by Nuhiu.

But generally the Owls lacked the sort of passing ability, movement and confidence that can open teams up. At times they launched long balls, at times they put one another in trouble.

Yeovil had chances in both halves, always tried to play a passing game, and equalised with a crisp strike by left-winger Joe Ralls after he cleverly beat Jordan Spence from a long free-kick had been half-cleared to the edge of the box.

Jones judged that Wednesday had dropped too deep, for the free-kick, and the unnamed person who was supposed to pick up Ralls was not doing his job.

The Owls manager, admitting that crowd were entitled to “ have a pop” about the performance, said players must be braver and more positive

“The crowd started to get anxious and have a go; we then get anxious. We have to be bigger and stronger and get the fans cheering us,” he said. “The players know they can play much better.

“We’re away next Saturday. We’ll get it down and pass it. Maybe that’s because we haven’t got 20,000 fans behind us. But that’s what they’re here for, the players are here to play in front of that but don’t seem to deliver it. There’s a big difference when we go away, We have to get over that.”

Gary Johnson appreciated the Owls’ fans applause at the end. “I love to see that,” he said. “Dave will get it sorted here, but it’s very humbling so see that Wednesday fans have seen your performance and the effort you have put in. That’s proper football people.”