Five things we learned after Sheffield Wednesday's 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest

Sheffield Wednesday fell to 13th in the Championship after a 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest last night.

Thursday, 20th September 2018, 10:29 am
Updated Thursday, 20th September 2018, 10:37 am
Wednesday's dug-out at the City Ground

Lewis Grabban and Joao Carvalho scored their first Forest goals as the Owls suffered their first league loss in five matches. 

Here are five things The Star's Owls writer Dom Howson took from the Championship clash at the City Ground...

Wednesday have big defensive issues

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Wednesday midfielder Adam Reach

Jos Luhukay bemoaned Wednesday's inability to retain possession after their first defeat to Forest since November 2016. The Dutchman had a point. The Owls were "very poor" on the ball. Their decision-making left a lot to be desired and their passing was careless.

But the big problem right now is their lack of defensive solidity. Wednesday are too easy to play against and have yet to keep a clean sheet in eight Championship matches.

It is all very well wanting to play an attractive, entertaining brand of football but there are, invariably, times away from home when you may come under the cosh and have to be strong and resolute at the back. As things stand, Wednesday do not look capable of keeping things tight.

Luhukay has tried to address the situation. He has chopped and changed the personnel and formation but it has made no difference as the Owls continue to make collective and individual mistakes. Unless Wednesday quickly rectify their defensive deficiencies, it is hard to look past an Aston Villa victory this weekend.

Wednesday striker Atdhe Nuhiu

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Several players under-performed

A team can carry perhaps carry one out of sorts player, but not three or four. The reality is Wednesday had too many below-par individual performances last night.

Lucas Joao looked a shadow of the player who scored a superb double against Ipswich Town last month. Stationed out on the left hand side, which is not his best position, Joao gave the ball away cheaply and posed little attacking threat. His control was poor and little went right for him on a torrid evening.

Lucas Joao struggled against Nottingham Forest

Adam Reach, deployed in the advanced midfield position, struggled to make an impact. Other than a fierce left foot shot in the first half, Reach, by his own high standards, was off the pace as Forest bossed the midfield battle. His delivery and final ball in the free role kept on letting him down.

There is no questioning Marco Matias's work rate but he did not contribute enough in the final third. The wide man, who started his sixth consecutive league match for the first time in his Owls career, also missed a great chance when the score was 0-0, heading over Morgan Fox's pinpoint cross.

Josh Onomah is not a holding midfielder

Josh Onomah made his first Owls start versus Forest

Luhukay handed Onomah his first start since joining on a season long-loan from Tottenham but it was a mixed display from the England Under-21 international.

Onomah was utilised in the holding role and tasked with the job of screening Wednesday's fragile backline. He made a sloppy start and was caught in possession by Lewis Grabban.

But Onomah put that behind him and showed flashes of his quality in the first half. There were a couple of positive, driving runs from deep which caught the eye.

However, he naively gave away the free-kick which led to Forest's opener. There was absolutely no need for Onomah to bring Matty Cash down near Wednesday's penalty area. Cash was going nowhere. It was, as Luhukay rightly pointed out post-match, a "stupid" foul. 

Onomah got through his fair share of work in the centre but it was clear he enjoyed going forwards and instigating attacks. He looks a creative player. He is a number eight and Wednesday probably will not see the best of him as a defensive midfielder.

Wednesday are consistently inconsistent

Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Cameron Dawson

This was a reality check for the Owls. It was a flat, laboured performance and the final scoreline flattered them. If Forest had been more clinical in the second half, Aitor Karanka's team would have won by more.

Wednesday's defence was far too easy to get at, the midfield were second best and the forward line failed to produce the goods. There was no pace or purpose to their play. There was no spark. They badly missed Fernando Forestieri. He is a matchwinner and offers them something completely different.

It is early days but the Owls have the look of a mid-table team. You can see them going on winning and losing runs this season. There will be ups and downs so people should no go overboard after one bad at the office.

At least they don't have to wait long to make amends.

Magnificent away backing

As usual, Wednesday's travelled in their numbers, packing out the away end in Nottingham. They sang their hearts out and made their presence felt. It is just a shame the players did not follow suit.