Sheffield Wednesday: Bullen hails Owls kids after narrow loss

Owls midfielder Rhys Mccabe
Owls midfielder Rhys Mccabe
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Owls coach Lee Bullen said there were plenty of positives he could take after the development squad’s 1-0 defeat to Burnley at Middlewood Road.

Ashley Barnes’ sublime first half strike ensured the Clarets, who fielded a strong side, including seven first-team regulars, edged a hard-fought friendly yesterday.

Clearing his lines Owls defender Ed Saunders

Clearing his lines Owls defender Ed Saunders

Bullen, who also assists Wednesday head coach Stuart Gray with the first-team squad, told The Star: “It was great for my boys to play against the likes of Ashley Barnes, Marvin Sordell, Stephen Reid and Ross Wallace. We gave them a good run for their money.

“You can either shrink and panic when you play against those sorts of players or you grow and handle it and I thought the players stood up to them.

“I was pleased with a lot of passages of play. We worked hard and put them on the back foot.”

Burnley could have been ahead after less than a minute. Sordell, who scored a hat-trick against Wednesday towards the end of last season while on loan with Bolton Wanderers, found Nathan Lowe but he turned sharply and curled a left foot shot narrowly over.

Sordell some how headed Ross Wallace’s pinpoint delivery wide before the Clarets deservedly broke the deadlock in the 16th minute through Barnes, who brilliantly looped a volley over Brad McDonagh after a good free-kick by Wallace.

Wednesday almost hit back immediately but Emmanuel Dieseruvwe’s fierce drive flew inches over the top. On the stroke of half-time, Simon Hanna’s low volley was superbly turned behind by Northern Ireland U19 international Conor Mitchell as the Owls slowly got to grips with their 3-5-2 formation.

It took a fine save by McDonagh to stop Burnley from doubling their advantage after the break while Barnes also wasted two chances in the final 20 minutes to make the Clarets’ margin of victory more emphatic.

“This match will stand the boys in good stead for the future,” said Bullen. “It was an opportunity for them to prove themselves. The difference in ability isn’t all that big. It’s about confidence and experience. They had one or two opportunities but we stood up to them. I don’t think there were any negatives and really they all came out with flying colours.”

Owls: McDonagh; Young, De Havilland, Beatson, Sanders, Floro; Hanna, Croasdale, McCabe, Dieseruvwe, Meadows.