Sheffield Wednesday: ‘Poor’ Hillsborough pitch is no excuse for home form

Owls boss Stuart Gray
Owls boss Stuart Gray
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Home is certainly not where the heart is for Sheffield Wednesday.

The Owls have accrued 23 of their 37 Championship points away from Hillsborough.

Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Bolton Wanderers was the fifth time Wednesday have lost in their own backyard this season.

The statistics make pretty grim reading for Owls’ long-suffering fans. Stuart Gray’s charges have fired blanks in seven of their 13 home league fixtures, finding the back of the net a paltry seven times. No team in the division has scored fewer goals on their own patch than Wednesday.

After their latest Hillsborough setback, Gray criticised the state of the playing surface but refused to blame that for the team’s poor home form.

“I’m not going to make any excuses,” he said. “The pitch is poor but it is the same for both teams.”

Speaking prior to the Bolton clash, Chris Maguire told The Star: “I don’t think you can start looking at excuses for why we haven’t won more games at home.

“We try and get the ball down and play at home but the pitch is the same for both teams when they come to our place.

“At the start of the season, our pitch was in fantastic condition but we have had some bad weather which has not helped us.

“Away from home, some of the pitches we go and play on are better than ours. But I’m not going to say that’s the reason why we are not winning at home. That’s just looking for the easy option out if you blame the pitch.”

While some people believe the Hillsborough pitch is hampering Wednesday’s ability to pick up results on home soil, Gray was more concerned by their “sloppy”, uncharacteristic defending against Bolton. The Owls chief also condemned the match officials’ decision to chalk off Stevie May’s strike in the closing stages, which was wrongly disallowed for off-side.

Gray, who will be without the suspended Sam Hutchinson when his side entertain 11th-placed Birmingham City a week today, said: “We started so poorly and then we gifted them a second goal so we gave ourselves a bit of a mountain to climb.

Former Wednesday loanee Royston Drenthe, meanwhile, is in talks over a move to Turkey after making a dramatic U-turn over his proposed switch to China. The Dutch forward, who played 15 times for the Owls, hitting one goal, was expected to sign for Shijiazhuang Ever Bright but is now understood to be on the brink of joining Turkish side Erciyesspor. Drenthe has not featured since Wednesday’s Boxing Day win over lowly Blackpool.

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