Some footballers manage to realise their lifetime ambitions. Just ask Sergiu Bus.
The Romanian striker had a big beaming smile plastered across his face after opening his account in English football.
The 22-year-old ended his near-five-month goal drought in the 86th minute of Sheffield Wednesday’s home draw with Huddersfield Town. He came off the bench to tuck in the loose ball at the second time of asking following an almighty goalmouth scramble after a low centre by the impressive Marnick Vermijl.
His strike was not a thing of beauty but you could how much it meant to Bus, which is pronounced ‘Bush’, as he wheeled away in celebration.
Bus, recruited at the start of February from Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia in a reported £375,000 deal, said: “I’m very happy. It is a big goal for me and I hope it is the beginning and I wish only to stay fit and score more goals.
“I hadn’t scored for four months so was waiting to get back on the scoresheet. I didn’t score for CSKA because it was the winter break over there.
“It is a big moment in my career. I speak every day with my family and will speak to them about my goal. It’s a pity that we didn’t win the game but we have to move on.”
Several clubs in Europe chased his signature but Bus, who learned English at school in Romania, said: “Wednesday were the only offer I got in England and it was my dream to come here.
“I had some other offers from other countries but I always thought about England so my dream has come true.
“I enjoy English football. I have always been interested in it. It’s a different level to what I have played before. I try to train good and get better every day.
To be honest I didn’t know that much about Wednesday. I knew the name but I didn’t know it was such a big clubSergiu Bus
“To be honest, I didn’t know much about Wednesday. I knew the name but I didn’t know it was a such a big club. It’s an honour to play here.”
A groin injury has restricted Bus to just three outings since his move to South Yorkshire.
“It was a very hard four or five weeks for me,” he admitted. “It is hard when you are not on the pitch and can’t help your teammates but I am back now and I try to do my best.”
Boss Stuart Gray hopes that will be the first of many goals for Bus.
“Sergiu is a bubbly character and is fluent in English,” he said. “He’s adapted well. He’s not had much opportunity but that will give him a big lift.
“Scoring in front of the fans will give him confidence and he will have enjoyed that feeling. It’s good that he has hit the ground running.
“We found out about Sergiu through a friend of mine. We sent someone out to watch him play.
“Sergiu wanted to come here. He had options to go several other places. He sees the the Championship as the next step in career and hopefully it will be a successful career with us.”
Bus’s impact from the bench was one of the major bright spots Gray could take after another frustrating home result.
While Lewis McGugan orchestrated things in midfield, Vermijl produced arguably his best performance in an Owls shirt, proving a good outlet throughout on the right flank. The Belgian defender whipped in a lovely cross which created mayhem in Huddersfield’s backline in the build-up to Bus’s goal.
Another positive was the partnership Lloyd Isgrove and Joe Mattock formed on the opposite flank.
Gray said: “Lloyd was excellent. He worked hard on and off the ball and I thought he and Joe complemented each other well.
“Lloyd is full of pace and is a tough little nut. He’s a strong boy who doesn’t shirk responsibility.”
Huddersfield, lacking confidence following a six-match winless run, set up to stifle the Owls, keep things tight and hit the hosts on the counter-attack. When Bus pounced in the closing stages, it seemed inevitable the Terriers would return to West Yorkshire empty-handed.
But a defensive lapse in concentration cost Gray’s side maximum points as they squandered another two home points.
James Vaughan out-jumped Kamil Zayatte in the air to flick on Tommy Smith’s long punt upfield. Sean Scannell nipped in front of Joe Mattock, sporting a rather large head bandage after picking up a knock earlier in the half, to touch the ball into the path of substitute Ishmael Miller, who fired home to secure a vital point for the Terriers in their quest to move clear of the bottom three.
On his last visit to Hillsborough, Miller was dismissed as League-One-bound Blackpool lost 1-0 on Boxing Day. But the big forward was a handful after replacing the ineffective Nahki Wells just after the hour mark to underline how quickly fortunes can change in sport.
It was a sloppy, eminently avoidable goal from Wednesday’s perspective but symptomatic of their poor home form. Gray’s men have taken the lead in four out of the 10 fixtures they have drawn on their own turf. Just over a fortnight ago, Wednesdayites enjoyed last-gasp derby delight but this time it was their turn to feel the pain of conceding a late goal.
“The Championship is such an honest league and you’ve got to keep going because teams don’t give up,” acknowledged Gray, who argued a free-kick should have been awarded to his side following Vaughan’s challenge on Zayatte. “It only takes a few seconds to score a goal.”
Wednesday, ultimately, paid the price for switching off.
Gray said: “We should have seen the game out and won 1-0. We have thrown away two points
“It’s not as if it was a good or clever goal. It was self-inflicted.”
The first 45 minutes was typical derby fare, full of effort and commitment but short on quality and end product.
Wednesday bossed big portions of the half, missing chances through Caolan Lavery, one of two changes to the starting line-up, and Lewis McGugan, but Vermijl had to be alert to clear David Edgar’s effort off the line moments before the interval.
Huddersfield were there for the taking and Atdhe Nuhiu should have claimed his 11th goal of the campaign after the restart when he raced on to Kieran Lee’s inviting through ball.
The big forward rounded goalkeeper Alex Smithies and rolled the ball towards the unguarded net only to see Joel Lynch, who was denied by Keiren Westwood in the first period, race back to heroically clear off the line.
Lavery, Bus and Chris Maguire also fluffed their lines in front of goal as the Owls’ inability to convert their chances came back to haunt them yet again. Huddersfield duly punished their sloppy marking with just a minute left of normal time and even came close through Vaughan to completing an unlikely turnaround.
You have to question Wednesday’s game management in those final few minutes. They definitely could have done with an experienced calming influence such as a Glenn Loovens or Jose Semedo to help them get over the line.
Wednesday: Westwood 7; Vermijl 7, Zayatte 6, Lees 6, Mattock 6; Lee 6 (May 63**6), Hutchinson 6, McGugan 7, Isgrove 7; Nuhiu 6 (Bus 63* 6), Lavery 7 (Maguire*** 74). Substitutes: Kirkland, Buxton, Maghoma, Dielna.
Huddersfield: Smithies 7; Smith 7, Hudson 7, Lynch 7, James 6; Scannell 6; Coady 6; Edgar 6, Butterfield 7; Wells 6 (Miller 64* 7), Vaughan 6. Substitutes: Allinson, Wallace, Lolley, Carroll, Gobern, Majewski.
Manager’s view - Stuart Gray: “We’ve had chances and didn’t get that second goal, which was the most important thing. Sergiu Bus had a good chance and I thought Caolan Lavery had a good chance as well. We’ve tended to get our noses in front at Hillsborough and then not killed teams off. Huddersfield came with a game plan, keeping five players behind the ball and trying to hit us on the break.”
Manager’s view - Chris Powell: “I felt the result was a fair reflection on the balance of play.I thought Ishmael Miller worried them when he came on and you want that from your subs. He did what I wanted him to do. He makes things happen and the players and fans like him.”
Hero: Lewis McGugan shone in the middle of the park, pulling the strings throughout. One of the big tasks in the summer is to persuade him to return to Hillsborough on a permanent basis. Lloyd Isgrove and Marnick Vermijl also performed well.
Key moment: Ishmael Miller’s 89th-minute leveller. The Owls boast one of the meanest defences in the division but they got undone by a long, hopeful ball and the substitute slotted home following Sean Scannell’s cute pass.
Viewpoint: Wednesday have only got themselves to blame for dropping more home points. They weren’t ruthless enough in the final third and got punished for one slack piece of play defensively.
Referee watch: Mark Haywood. The West Yorkshire official let the derby flow throughout. Things never looked like boiling over at any stage. Dished out three justified yellow cards to Coady, Lynch and Hudson.