Sheffield Wednesday: Steel City derby disappointment for Owls Under-18s as Blades come-from-behind to seal title
Ben Wilkinson bemoaned the Owls' inability to take their opportunities following the Under-18s Steel City derby defeat to Sheffield United.
Promising forward Jordan Lonchar, fit-again following a hamstring injury, handed Wednesday a 17th minute lead in front of a big crowd at Middlewood Road.
But United battled back in the second half and clinched the Professional Development League Two North title after goals from Jordan Hallam, pictured inset, and Horatio Hirst.
Wilkinson, Wednesday’s Youth Development Phase Manager, said: “It’s very disappointing as we had a game plan which worked really well in the first half. We created several chances and got in behind them a lot but we just stopped doing all those things in the second half.
“Sheffield United did what they are good at and ground us down.”
England Under-18 international George Hirst headed over and struck the post before Lonchar broke the deadlock following a rapid counter attack. Fraser Preston and Hirst combined to feed the lively Lonchar, who drilled a fierce right foot shot past Hugo Warhurst.
“I was really pleased Jordan got some minutes under his belt and he took his goal well,” said Wilkinson. “It was his first game back after six to seven weeks out and he came through it really well fitness wise.
“His quality on the ball is second to none in the final third.
“We know our front three will create chances. They are all a real threat. It’s just disappointing we didn’t take more of our chances.
“On another day, we would probably have been two or three nil up. We hit the post in the first half and missed another one on one.”
United grew into the contest and Stephen Mallon fired narrowly wide after good approach play.
But the visitors were not to be denied and Hallam levelled things up just after the hour mark.
Tempers threatened to boil over in the closing stages as both sides pressed hard for the winner with George Hirst, the hero in the last meeting, missing a glorious opportunity.
And with four minutes left, Horatio Hirst completed the comeback by turning in Tyler Smith’s cross.
Wilkinson said: “Congratulations to United. They have been very consistent this year.
“We were excellent in the first half but fair play to United; they upped their game and did what they are good at in the second half.
“They kept the ball in our half, put us under pressure and wore us down.”
Despite suffering just their second defeat in the last 11 league matches, Wednesday remain second, four points clear of Huddersfield Town.