Sheffield Wednesday match report: Brentford 2 Owls 0

Wednesday worked "diligently" alongside the English Football League to get their transfer embargo lifted.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 19th August 2018, 5:08 pm
Updated Sunday, 19th August 2018, 5:10 pm
Brentford v Sheffield Wednesday.
Brentford v Sheffield Wednesday.

Now the Owls must work hard over the next fortnight to strengthen Jos Luhukay's first-team squad.

There was a renewed sense of optimism at S6 following Friday night's announcement the club could sign players once again. News of Wednesday satisfying the EFL's profitability and sustainability regulations rightly raised spirits on the blue and white half of the Steel City.

But the trip to Griffin Park was another stark reminder of Wednesday's glaring deficiencies.

Their lack of strength in depth and solidity at the back was ruthlessly exploited by Brentford, who were superior in every department.

Strikes either side of half-time from Neil Maupay and Ollie Watkins ensured the Owls fell to a fourth successive defeat in London.

Wednesday were competitive in the opening 45 minutes but second best after the break. Jos Luhukay's troops simply had no answer to Brentford's slick, attractive style of play. Cameron Dawson produced a string of great saves to keep the Bees at bay.

Brentford have, in Owls old boy Dean Smith, one of the brightest young managers outside the Premier League. Smith, operating on a modest budget, has guided Brentford to top 10 finishes in each of the last three seasons. On this form, expect them to be in the mix for the play-offs.

Formation change

Luhukay rates Brentford highly, describing the Bees as "one of the best footballing" sides in the Championship.

And in an attempt to combat their pace and flair in attacking areas, the Dutchman tweaked their personnel and formation.

Dawson, Joey Pelupessy, Jordan Thorniley, Hutchinson, Atdhe Nuhiu, Ash Baker, Daniel Pudil and Fernando Forestieri, who shrugged off a groin problem, were restored to the starting eleven.

The visitors suffered a blow in the warm up as Adam Reach, who was due to start, picked up a knock. It meant Marco Matias was drafted in as a late call-up and Fraser Preston was promoted to the bench. It was a late disruption Luhukay could have done without as the Owls targeted their first league win of the 2018-19 campaign.

Intriguingly, Luhukay altered their system from 3-4-3 to 4-2-3-1. He deployed Hutchinson and Pelupessy as holding midfielders while Bannan, Matias and Forestieri were tasked with supporting Nuhiu.

The tactical change appeared a smart move in the early stages and underlined their respect for Brentford. They matched the Bees up and Luhukay's side had a good shape and balance to them.

The game

There was little to choose between the two sides until Hutchinson's 20th minute rush of blood to the head.

Wednesday were solid, disciplined and looked comfortable in their new system.

Sergi Canos fizzed in a dangerous cross which Neal Maupay could not connect with and Ash Baker denied the lively Ollie Watkins a sight of goal after a good run from the Brentford winger but the Bees created nothing clear cut.

But all Wednesday's good work was undone by Hutchinson, who needlessly brought down midfielder Lewis Macleod inside the penalty area. It was a clumsy challenge and Maupay, making his 50th appearance for the Bees, made no mistake from 12 yards, sending Dawson the wrong way.

Watkins and Canos swapped sides throughout and continued to unsettled the Owls' backline with their clever movement and dribbling prowess. Both had efforts well saved by Dawson as Brentford took control.

Yet Wednesday refused to wilt.

Bannan unleashed a fierce strike from 30 yards which flew over the top before Matias missed a golden chance to level things up. He raced on to Bannan's pass but Daniel Bentley rushed off his line to narrow the angle and block his shot.

Moments later, Brentford almost punished the Owls for that miss. Canos found himself in acres of space inside the area after a quick corner routine. However, the Spaniard's composure in front of goal deserted him as he curled wide when well-placed.

Second half

Luhukay freshened up his attacking options at half-time, taking off Hutchinson for talented forward Fraser Preston. It was youngster's professional debut.

It did little to stem the tide.

Canos blazed over after Pelupessy only partially cleared a cross from the left.

Then Maupay, a willing runner throughout, squared the ball into the path Canos and his 15 yard shot was expertly kept out by Dawson.

It was one way traffic as Bannan then produced an outstanding block to prevent Watkins from testing the reflexes of Dawson after a fine flick by Maupay.

A positive, driving run from Preston briefly put Brentford on the back foot. His centre was hooked over on the volley by Matias from an acute angle.

Brentford, though, deservedly doubled their lead just after the hour mark when Maupay beat the offside trap. The striker seemed to make a hash of his one-on-one opportunity as Dawson made himself big but he picked out an unmarked Watkins in the middle who had the simple task of tapping into an unguarded net.

It was no more than the Bees deserved.

The margin of the Bees' victory could have been greater had they shown more of a clinical edge in the final third.

Canos, Maupay (2) and substitute Said Benrahma were denied by Dawson and Watkins, a constant menace, fired wide when he had the goal at his mercy.

The gulf in class was alarming and leaves Luhukay with plenty to ponder after a poor start to the season.