Sheffield Wednesday: Substance over style for play-off chasing Owls

Adam Reach
Adam Reach
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For Adam Reach, winning is all that matters.

He doesn’t care how Wednesday play in the second leg of their Championship play-off semi-final with Huddersfield Town at Hillsborough - as long they come out on top this evening.

Adam Reach

Adam Reach

Reach said: “I am expecting the fans to get right behind us and I hope that they do. It is a semi-final and it is difficult; sometimes it is going to be cagey and there might not be that pure quality of play.

“As players we don’t care how we play. Obviously, we prefer to play well, but we want to get the win, so we don’t care how we get it.

“The fans have got to remember that it might not be an open, expansive 100 miles per hour game, it might be cagey at times, even though we are the home team.

“But when they get a chance to get behind us, I am sure that they will and that will help us push on. Hopefully, them and us playing well will get us over the line.”

Adam Reach

Adam Reach

The tie is finely balanced after Sunday’s goalless draw at the John Smith’s Stadium. It was a cagey affair and there were only two shots on target.

The Owls set up to contain the Terriers, who dominated possession and territory but lacked an end product against Carlos Carvalhal’s well-drilled side.

Carvalhal defended his pragmatic approach, insisting he was “moderately happy” with the final scoreline.

“It was a well earned draw in the end,” said Reach.

“It was tough and hot out there and we defended really well.

“They had a lot of the ball, but didn’t cause too many real problems with Westy [Keiren Westwood].

“We struggled a little bit to control the game, but we didn’t lose and took a 0-0 back to Hillsborough on Wednesday with home advantage now and I am sure we will have enough to do it then.”

Reach and Ross Wallace sacrificed their forward-thinking instincts for defensive solidity last weekend. The two wide men tucked in to help out the full-backs and nullify Huddersfield’s creative players.

Reach said: “Because of the way Huddersfield play, Ross and I were very deep, covering the full-backs and when we did retain the ball, they had a high press and it was only Fletch [Steven Fletcher and Nando [Fernando Forestieri] up there, so we didn’t have many options.

“But we knew that they were going to play like that and got the 0-0 and were quite pleased.”

The Terriers have not scored in four consecutive matches against Wednesday, last season’s losing play-off finalists, but Reach is acutely aware the team will have to keep hold of the ball much better tonight.

The left-sided player said: “We are going to have to retain the ball and I think we will do at home.

“We have to make Hillsborough as big as possible.

“Huddersfield are going to still have possession of the ball as well because that is the way they want to play.

“We will keep a high line and nick the ball and maybe exploit the areas that they leave wide like we did in the Hillsborough (league) game in the regular season and won 2-0.

“If we do that again and take the lead, it is about how well we defend. But we are all positive that if we do keep another clean sheet, we will win the game.

“We are a very good away side, but are definitely stronger at home with the fans.

“It is going to be a great atmosphere because the tie is poised on a knife-edge.

“But we are all confident that we can beat anyone in the league at home and we have proved that.”

When asked if the Owls are in the driving seat, Reach said: “It’s difficult to say because we are both very good teams who finished fourth and fifth respectively - and deservedly as well.

“They are not going to come and suddenly concede six goals because they have had to have good away form to be in this position. But we have beaten big teams such as Newcastle at home and others and always seem to find another gear at home.”

It is matches like tonight that prompted Reach to leave Middlesbrough and join Wednesday in a £5m deal last August.

He said: “We all want to get to Wembley and go one better than we did last season.

“It was important to remember that this is a two-legged tie and it wasn’t just Sunday.

“We didn’t have to go and win the game and we took a well deserved, good 0-0.

“And hopefully we will have enough on Wednesday to win the game and progress to the final.”

Reach hopes their experience will come to the fore in the end-of-season shootout.

He said: “Hopefully, if we do get to the final, the experience that some of the lads have got from last season and the experiences in the play-offs will be enough to get us over the line.”