Weaver hails Owls comeback

Sheffiel Wednesday v Chesterfield.....Owls Penalty shoot out hero keeper Nicky Weaver
Sheffiel Wednesday v Chesterfield.....Owls Penalty shoot out hero keeper Nicky Weaver
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AS Wednesday head towards their final two matches of the season, their thoughts are turning to where it all went wrong and the way ahead after the revival under Gary Megson.

Those thoughts are provoked by the fact that the remaining games are against Bristol Rovers and Exeter.

In mid-December the Owls thrashed Rovers 6-2, on Milan Mandaric’s home “debut”, to rise to second in the table and set up a chance to go top when they played Exeter away the following Saturday.

But they slumped 5-1 and began their slide down the table.

Nicky Weaver reflects: “It was 6-2 in the chairman’s first game; it all went a bit wrong for us after that.

“People ask me even now to try to put my finger on what went wrong. We can’t. It was bizarre.

“We went in 1-1 at half time at Exeter, thinking it was a game we could win. But we lost and it kicked things on for the next couple of months.

“We also had games postponed over Christmas. We just went from bad to worse. We couldn’t find a win. The home form was really suffering.

“Ultimately Alan Irvine lost his job. A new manager came in. There have been a lot of changes at the club. It has taken us a while to find our feet.

“But now we are playing some good stuff and starting to win, so hopefully that all bodes well for next season.

The Owls have won four of their last six games and drawn one: the only defeat was away to champions Brighton.

Bristol need points not only to avenge the December drubbing but to aid their fight for survival.

Weaver said: “When you’re fighting for your lives, it does bring added pressure, because you know games are running out.

“It’s going to be a difficult game for us but we’ll have great support down there and we’re looking forward to it.

“I think you always have something to play for, as a team and individuals. Some players are out of contract. Some players may want to move on, I don’t know. Players who want to be here next season want to prove to the gaffer that they can do a job.

“We won’t be going down there to have a jolly. We’re going there to try to win.

“Our fans have been great in the way they have travelled to support us. We haven’t always given them the performance they deserve. This is the last away game; hopefully we can put on a good one for them.

“We approach the game with confidence after recent results.”

The 32-year-old keeper recently signed a new two-year contract and hopes to stay at Hillsborough even longer, intending to play for as long as he possibly can.

A groin injury suffered in the warm-up of the game against Peterborough in March cost him a month on the sidelines, and he admits that, really, he should not have played that night.

“Why I played, I don’t know. I just tried to convince myself I could. I shouldn’t have played.”

He masked the problem well: the crowd did not realise he was injured: “I didn’t have that much to do; I struggled with my kicking.

“I didn’t want to miss the game. I just kept trying to tell myself I’d be all right. I managed to get through it, but obviously I was out for a few weeks; I’m back maybe a little bit quicker than I expected.

“The gaffer gave me the nod and I enjoyed being back.”

Weaver, who returned against Swindon on Monday, believes that Richard O’Donnell did a fine job in his absence: “Everyone will look on him differently now. He’d never played a game for Wednesday; now he’s payed eight and everyone knows he’s capable of playing in the first team.

“When the season finishes, he’ll look back and think it’s been a successful year for him,

“I’m pleased for him, because he’s worked hard, he’s been here a long time, he’s waited for his chance and he deserved it when it came.”

Weaver says there is good camaraderie between the three keepers: him, O’Donnell and Arron Jameson: “We all get on great and try to help each other.”