Owls match report: Yeovil Town 2 Sheffield Wednesday 0

Red Card for Owls Sam Hutchinson after a second yellow card for a challenge on Yeovil's Adam Morgan. Pic: Steve Ellis.
Red Card for Owls Sam Hutchinson after a second yellow card for a challenge on Yeovil's Adam Morgan. Pic: Steve Ellis.
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Let’s start with the positives. There were none. Not the words of your correspondent but those of Sheffield Wednesday manager Stuart Gray.

Now that piece of news is out in the open it is fairly plain to see the depths to which the Owls players sank during their abject performance in Somerset.

Despair for Stuart Gray as the Owls concede

Despair for Stuart Gray as the Owls concede

However, some perspective is needed in this before laying bare their faults and failings.

This was a first away defeat in ten matches on the road since Dave Jones was sacked after losing 2-0 at Blackpool on November 30 last year.

Gray has steadied the Owls ship and, even after a first loss against Yeovil, Wednesday are ten points clear of the last relegation place.

It’s not necessarily a comfortable position for Wednesdayites who know better than anyone their team like to ‘make it exciting’ as they strive to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in ever more unlikely circumstances.

Most observers would agree that Wednesday have a squad that is Championship quality. Lower mid-table quality, but Championship quality never-the-less.

After the way they meekly surrended to a fired-up Glovers, though, the worry is that they may slowly slip back towards the likes of Yeovil, Charlton, Doncaster Rovers, Barnsley and Millwall at the foot of the Championship.

Injuries didn’t help either at Huish Park. And this is why it’s difficult to be overly critical of Wednesday.

Goalkeeper Chris Kirkland was a late withdrawal from the squad after injuring his calf in training on Friday.

Damian Martinez was a good replacement and probably played better than any other Wednesday player.

But ... Kirkland was definitely missed. It’s the intangibles that a first-choice player brings to the team, things which are so hard to put a finger on.

It was the same for the absent Kieran Lee, Jose Semedo, Reda Johnson, Joe Mattock, Michail Antonio and, dare we say it, Connor Wickham - now with Leeds United.

Lewis Buxton would be included on this list but he made a return on the bench and could start on Wednesday against Wigan after Liam Palmer had a difficult afternoon against Manchester United loanee left winger, Tom Lawrence.

Maybe Palmer, who has been in good form all season, could provide energy in midfield against the Latics?

There was just something lacking for Wednesday. Gray didn’t beat about the bush. He said it was effort and commitment and the 1,500 Wednesdayites who made the long trip south will have nodded their heads in agreement.

The first 15 minutes were all about the Owls looking neat and tidy.

Jacques Maghoma stung the palms of Yeovil keeper Marek Stech early in the match and Wednesday looked as though they’d pass their hosts off the pitch.

Very much like the playing surface, which had been soddened by pre-match sprinklers that not only gave a gentle drizzle over the Wednesdayites down wind of their spray, but also made the turf slippy and cut up, Wednesday’s performance began to deteriorate.

Martinez did very well to dive low to his left to keep out a shot from Duane Holmes and Yeovil’s overall pressure deserved a goal.

It duly came on 41 minutes through a thumping volley from Ishmael Miller.

Wednesday were sloppy to concede a throw-in and then negligent to leave Miller unmarked ten yards out. He made no mistake.

Six minutes after half time Miller scored his second as he cut in from the right wing and curled a fierce drive past Martinez with his left foot.

With 39 minutes remaining there was still plenty of time for a Wednesday response.

It didn’t come. Gray threw on Jermaine Johnson, Atdhe Nuhiu and Benik Afobe but, aside from a Glenn Loovens header that looped over the bar, there was nothing to worry Stech.

A sending-off for Sam Hutchinson in the 89th minute completed a thoroughly miserable day for Wednesday.

Gray was shocked that his team could play so poorly.

He said: “At the end of the day it’s 11 v 11 and you try and win as many one v one battles as you can.

“The first ten minutes we controlled the game but suddenly we switched off. Our passing was poor, we didn’t win enough second balls to be creative. And suddenly they got the crowd up. First and foremost, the effort and commitment has to be there from the word go.

“We stopped taking responsibility. We had opportunities to cross the ball and we’re trying to play square passes. I said to the players sometimes you just have to put the ball into the box. We’ve had occasions when players have had the opportunity to shoot and they’ve passed the buck. It was a really unusual performance from us.”

For Wednesday’s sake their manager had better be right.

Hero: Tough to pick on a day of such poor performances but without Damian Martinez’s reflexs Wednesday’s defeat could have been heavier. Losing Chris Kirkland was a blow to the Owls team. However, Martinez is an able deputy and could hold his head high.