COACHES from the SAS football team watched Tranmere train last week and were guests of the club at Saturday’s match.
They saw fighting spirit from Wednesday as the Owls recovered from being a goal down and overcame another stiff challenge in their promotion mission.
The contest was what football folk call a battle - though I guess our armed forces would smile at such a term being applied to a mere sport.
But Wednesday also possessed quality, notably a sparkling second half from Ben Marshall, besides the goals from Chris Lines and Ryan Lowe which pointed the right way ahead.
“Sign him up, sign up,” chanted fans in a sell-out away following of 2,000 as the winger was taken off near the end.
Marshall’s dribbling and crossing were major factors in the team’s resurgence after half time. He also contributed to Lines’ volleyed equaliser with a long throw, and it was his cross that led to Lowe nodding home the winner.
Part of Wednesday’s mission now must be to try to keep the Stoke youngster - preferably on a full deal in January.
Marshall had a quiet time in a scrappy first half. But, as Megson observed: “Ben is a good player. His second-half performance was terrific.”
Megson also felt that the 20-year-old set an example that Jermaine Johnson should follow.
Johnson was dropped from the squad for his reaction to being taken off at Morecambe, where he went straight down the tunnel.
Said the manager: “We have to have everybody with their shoulder behind the wheel. It [the Johnson issue] is not really a concern of mine. I’m concerned with the ones who’re playing.
“Every player has to accept that this is a team game and do everything for Sheffield Wednesday. You will be successful within that team, but not instead of. That’s not just JJ - it applies to everybody.
“Ben Marshall was probably our best player on the ball in the second half. He comes off with a few minutes to go, he shakes hands with the sub and sits down next to me, and he’s a terrific lad. That’s what we want. JJ needs to learn these things.”
Marshall made way for defender Julian Bennett to stiffen the team in the dying stages when Tranmere were throwing men forward.
It was a strong challenge for Wednesday to face in the first half, as well. But they are made of stern stuff these days.
“If it’s a battle, I would fancy us,” said Megson. “If it’s a fight, I would fancy us. If It’s about fitness, I would fancy us. If it’s about quality, I would fancy us. We stood up to everything that Tranmere threw at us.
“They’re a big side; set-pieces are a problem - good delivery, with big players attacking it.
“In the second half I think the shot count was 8-2 in our favour, and we looked a good side.”
Wednesday had an early escape when striker Mustafa Tiryaki put a free header wide. On-loan Everton forward Jose Baxter played with a bit of swagger; besides scoring with a deflected shot, he went close with an effort and had a goal disallowed for offside.
Chris Lines’ shot, not the sweetest he has ever struck, pulled the Owls level and then they pinned Tranmere in their own half for long periods in the second half.
Lines and Liam Palmer - who did a decent job at right-back in place in the injured Lewis Buxton - were not far away with 25-yarders. Lowe was denied by a great clearance from centre half Ian Goodison and by a near-post save.
Stephen Bywater did his bit with a stop from Baxter, and Andy Robinson dragged a chance wide.
It was another of those full-blooded games that the Wednesday of a year ago might have lost.
They also managed to cope without Buxton, and when they lost Gary Madine at half-time to a toe injury they could call upon another goalscorer, Ryan Lowe, whom Tranmere tried to buy in the summer before Wednesday met Bury’s £100,000 price.
Said Megson: “I couldn’t see who put the second goal in, from where I was. I would have guessed it was him; he has that quality about him.”
Lowe, a Liverpudlian, said: “We worked ever so hard. I had family and friends and my kids here. It just gives you that taste for scoring the winner.”