Stuart Gray has acknowledged Sheffield Wednesday must pick up more points on their own turf if they want to compete for honours at Championship level next season.
The Football League revealed the fixture list yesterday and four of the Owls’ opening six matches, including the Capital One Cup encounter with Notts County, take place at Hillsborough.
As well as County, Gray’s charges welcome play-off runners-up Derby County, Millwall and much fancied Nottingham Forest to Hillsborough.
Wednesday have flirted with relegation in each of the last two seasons and that is partly because of their inconsistent home form. The team garnered 31 points out of a possible 69 on offer in front of their own fans during the 2012/13 and 2013/14 campaigns. Both seasons they suffered 10 defeats and head coach Gray is determined to put that right.
He told The Star: “We need to make Hillsborough a bit of a fortress. We have got done too many times at home since I arrived.
“It [Hillsborough] is a fantastic venue and we’ve got great support who get behind us but we have got to make sure that puts fear into the opposition. What we can’t keep on doing is throwing away cheap points at home.
“When you look at teams who are successful, they are strong at home. It was individual mistakes that cost us in a lot of games last year. It shows that players are human beings and the more pressure you put on the opposition, the more mistakes you will force out of them.”
Wednesday kick off their season with an away trip to Brighton and Hove Albion on August 9 before they play host to Derby and Millwall.
Gray said: “It [Brighton] will be a hard game. They missed out in the play-offs last season and always prove difficult opposition, especially on their own patch.
“It’s disappointing that we are not at home for the first game in front of our supporters but that’s just the way the fixtures haven fallen.
“It will be a difficult start but we all know what this division is like – it’s tough games every week.”
It took the Owls until November 2 for them to register their maiden league win last term, a resounding 5-2 triumph over Reading.
Gray is keen for his team to get off to a positive start.
“It’s very important we hit the ground running as there are such thin dividing lines in this league,” he said. “We drew seven games early on last year 1-1 after going ahead in four of them so they could have gone either way.”
Wednesday, meanwhile, have reminded fans that the deadline for fans to buy their 2014/15 season tickets at the current prices is 5pm this Saturday. Tickets are priced at £405 for adults on the Kop, equating to £17.60 per match, while concessions are £220. For more information, ring 0871 900 1867 or visit the Owls’ online store. Tickets can also be purchased at Wednesday’s ticket office.