Sheffield Wednesday: Neil Thompson orders Owls Under-23s to ‘smarten up’ after Steel City derby setback

Neil Thompson
Neil Thompson
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Under-23s boss Neil Thompson admitted his Owls side looked nervous in their Steel City derby defeat to Sheffield United.

Strikes either side of half-time by Tyler Smith and Regan Slater proved decisive as Wednesday missed the chance to seal the Professional Development League Two North title.

A win at Middlewood Road yesterday would have secured the Owls top spot but a late Connor O’Grady header was all they had to show for their efforts.

A disappointed Thompson told The Star: “It is frustrating because a win would have seen us over the line. We looked a bit nervous. We didn’t move the ball quick enough or press with intensity and that’s what you get.

“We huffed and puffed in the second half. We probably had a lot more of the ball in the last half an hour. We created one or two opportunities but nothing clear-cut.

“We have to smarten up. You can’t just wait for things to happen. You have to make things happen with the tempo you play at with and without the ball and we didn’t do that.”

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Thompson felt Wednesday should have defended both of United’s goals better.

“We got caught cold from a free-kick and didn’t pick up the header for the first goal,” he said.

“There were three or four opportunities we could have stopped the second from source when the ball went up to the striker.”

Owls’ development squad are next in action a week on Friday. They travel to Leeds United for the final match of the regular season knowing they remain in control of their own destiny.

“It will be a big game at Elland Road but it is what you play the game for,” Thompson said. “We have to play at a good intensity and more fire in the belly.

“We looked a bit too rash in possession (against United) and we didn’t go anywhere with it. Sometimes we went long when we didn’t need to.

“We have to show better quality on the ball. You have to be brave and demand the ball in tight areas and do things at the right time.”

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Thompson is confident of an instant response from his side.

He said: “We will dust ourselves down and get on with it.

“The players have been great all season.

“The big positive is everything is still in our hands.”

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