Pre-season is a time of getting fit, integrating new signings and giving your confidence players a boost to hit the ground running for when the serious action begins.
As far as Sheffield Wednesday’s match at Worksop Town on Saturday afternoon goes, the Owls achieved on all fronts.
Eight players had the full 90 minutes; David Prutton, Jose Semedo and Julian Bennett all looked excellent bits of business; and Jermaine Johnson and Gary Madine were both praised by manager Gary Megson.
Three goals – two from set pieces – gave Wednesday a comfortable victory at Sandy Lane.
Worksop are no pushovers. And in 24-year-old striker Jamie Jackson they surely have a player who will shake off an unsuccessful trial with Mansfield Town this summer to make the step up to the upper echelons of non-league football or even higher.
Wednesday were called upon to defend resolutely at times. However, it was all done from a position of comfort once Lewis Buxton had sent a thumping header past Worksop ‘keeper Jon Worsnop in the 11th minute from a Liam Palmer corner.
Marshalled well by Nicky Weaver’s deputy, Richard O’Donnell, the Owls back four looked strong.
Further forward Johnson on the left and Palmer on the other wing were tormenting the Worksop defence.
Palmer sent a rasping shot just over and had combined well with Buxton to force a desperate clearance all before 15 minutes had been played.
Johnson was cutting inside to unleash shot after shot on the home team’s goal.
It was from a Johnson pass, though, that Wednesday doubled their lead. Just a minute after missing a chance to lob Worsnop from 30 yards, Madine controlled a pass from his left-wing colleague and lashed a right-foot strike inside the keeper’s right hand post.
Megson told The Star he was pleased to see Madine get off the mark: “It’s always nice for centre forwards. What I was most pleased with is that he’d missed a sitter from a couple of yards in the first few minutes, then he had an opportunity to lob the goalkeeper from 30 yards but made a hash of it. But he still had the confidence to take a touch and finish as he did. I was saying the same thing to JJ. He must have had eight or nine shots today but didn’t work the goalkeeper too often. I’d rather have him do that than turn down the opportunity to shoot.”
The Owls could have added to their score before half time but it took until 69 minutes for them to make the match safe.
Chris Sedgwick, on for Buxton, flighted over a corner which Mark Beevers headed past Worsnop.
Madine would later hit the bar from another right-wing Sedgwick corner. It would have perhaps been harsh on Worksop to lose 4-0.
As it was the scoreline was enough for Megson who thinks his team, minus the injured quintet of Giles Coke, Reda Johnson, Danny Jones, Jon Otsemobor and Weaver, are showing good signs of progress.
He said: “It was a good exercise. A lot of players got 90 minutes under their belt. We played some good stuff at times and scored three goals. Three weeks away from the start it was a good performance by us.
“Considering we have only been back two and a half weeks it was a really pleasing performance.
“Although we’ve won today we’re looking for other things. We’re looking for fitness, we’re looking for them to settle on the ball.
“And looking to try and progress physically and performance wise for the Rochdale game.”
Rotherham United tomorrow night at Don Valley will be a more polished opponent for Megson and his players. But the near 2,000 crowd of mainly Wednesdayites on Saturday saw a team that is moving in the right direction.
- Sheffield Wednesday: O’Donnell, Buxton (Sedgwick 65), Bennett (Reynolds 70), Beevers, R Jones, Palmer, Semedo (O’Connor 79), Prutton, J Johnson, Madine, Morrison.
- Worksop: Worsnop, Cooke (Wood 46), Turner, Shiels, Roberts, Cotterill (Bacon 57), Young (Davis 57), Barwick (Thompson 57), Jackson, Muller, Duncum (Davidson 46).