When cheeky chappie Ross Wallace stole a tactical note at the John Smith’s Stadium three months ago, the internet went crazy.
Wallace ran up behind Huddersfield Town’s Elias Kachunga in the closing stages of the Yorkshire derby and snatched a piece of paper out of Kachunga’s hands to have a sneak peak at the opposition instructions. Football can be a very serious business but Wallace’s antics demonstrated footballers do still have a sense of humour.
It was a funny moment and the Scottish winger had the last laugh again at Huddersfield’s expense over the weekend.
This time social media went nuts after Wallace’s stunning 54th-minute strike. His 25-yard piledriver ended his eight-month goal drought in style.
“It was an amazing goal from Ross Wallace,” acknowledged boss Carlos Carvalhal. “Ross deserved that goal, absolutely.
“Sometimes, people don’t know, but this season two or three games he has specific tactical work to block the opposition.
“He made a sacrifice for the team, and opened up spaces for his colleagues. He is doing work for the team, which we asked him to. Against Huddersfield, he didn’t have this role to carry out and we gave him permission to fly. The flight ended with a fantastic goal.”
Wallace’s screamer swung the momentum the Owls’ way and Jack Payne was later sent off following a late challenge on Sam Hutchinson.
In the dying embers of the contest, the Terriers twice went close to levelling things up before Fernando Forestieri netted a second in added on time.
AWFUL FIRST HALF
Let’s get the big negative out of the way. Wednesday, who handed first-team recalls to Keiren Westwood, Jack Hunt and Sam Hutchinson, were woeful in the opening 45 minutes. Too many players shirked responsibility. Too many individuals took the safe option, passing backwards or sideways, rather than trying to take a risk and make something happen.
Carvalhal said: “In the first half, we made one or two mistakes in the way we pressed. Our wingers were too deep, and we stayed away from the ball too much.
“We trained to put Huddersfield under pressure as soon as possible when they had the ball, but in the first half we forgot to do this.”
The Owls stood off and allowed Huddersfield to dominate and dictate the flow and tempo. Wednesday hardly created anything and Huddersfield should have gone ahead with Nahki Wells heading straight at Keiren Westwood when well placed before Michael Hefele headed Aaron Mooy’s corner inches wide.
Terriers boss David Wagner said: “We were a little more dangerous, especially in the first half, or as long as played 11 against 11.
“But we were not clinical enough, we have to be honest with ourselves. We had opportunities and in such a tight game, you have to take them to be successful.”
Wednesday have an embarrassment of riches up front. Carvalhal introduced new signing Sam Winnall at half-time and the substitution changed the complexion of the match. Winnall, making his debut after arriving from Barnsley, was keen to impress and pressed and harried Huddersfield’s defence into submission. He linked up well with Forestieri, was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet himself and proved a good outlet.
Carvalhal said: “Sam really affected the game. He created a good impact on the team. Even though he hadn’t trained too much, and doesn’t know his colleagues, he is a good player and gave us pace in attack.”
It took a piece of individual brilliance from Wallace to break the deadlock but Huddersfield felt hard done by, claiming Wells was impeded by Hutchinson before the ball broke to Wallace. They probably had a point but Lady Luck, not for the first time recently, shone on Wednesday.
“Ross’ goal was just what the game needed,” said Winnall. “It needed that little bit of spark. We know Ross has got that in him. He’s got a wonderful left foot. It was some strike. I was stood right behind it and it looked great!”
Wanger and Huddersfield were left fuming over Payne’s dismissal. “It was probably a yellow, not red,” insisted Wagner. It looked a fair decision to me.
It was then left to Forestieri to wrap things up. The forward, who turned 27 yesterday, prodded in from close range after Callum McManaman rounded goalkeeper Danny Ward.