Why I was glad to see players hurting against Aston Villa - Jon Newsome's Sheffield Wednesday column
Saturday was an outstanding result against a very good Aston Villa side that undoubtedly will have been looking at the five teams and places above them rather than the ones below.
If I am perfectly honest I really didn’t know what to expect prior to the game on Saturday because although we had beaten Millwall on the proceeding Tuesday night, I didn’t feel we were any more convincing in that win than we were in the draw against Barnsley.
I therefore wondered if we would go there with a little bit more confidence than we have shown previously this season or not? Would it be a turn of our fortunes and performances and would we possibly get something out of the game? Obviously I was hopeful we could do this and start building some sort of run.
Well, forget all that, Adam Reach scored a screamer from 30 yards after 18 seconds to make it three goals in three games. Jordan Rhodes notched for the second game in succession and all of a sudden with just 25 minutes gone in what was a very difficult away game, we looked in total control, were playing a confident passing game and everyone was probably thinking ‘what has all the fuss been about?’
I think it was only a few weeks ago that I made the statement that goals change games. It seems extremely obvious really doesn’t it? But it is not just the score line that is affected when the goals go in but the whole attitude of the players and supporters alike. Two cracking goals completely knocked the wind out of the home team's sails and once again you could see the confidence coming back to the Wednesday players.
We played the second half in a perfectly professional manner and when Liam Palmer shot wide with the goal at his mercy I was hoping that it wouldn’t come back to haunt us. I needn’t worry, we defended well, we looked organised and the only blip on a thoroughly excellent afternoon's work was conceding in the 96th minute.
Some people will think that this was incidental but you could see by Keiren Westwood's reaction to that late goal that it really meant something. The back four or five, if you include the keeper, will be more than aware that they haven’t been anywhere near as solid this season as they were in previous years and the lack of clean sheets is both worrying and requires improvement.
Good habits are part and parcel of winning games and keeping clean sheets is a particularly good habit to get into. Personally, I think it was good to see how much it hurt the individuals at the end because keeping Villa out for the whole game would have been a really good confidence booster, especially going into yet another international break.
Unlike the last when I suggested Carlos might have been grateful of the break to enable him to work with the players for longer, this time I am not too sure he would have welcomed it quite as much. Momentum seems to be the ‘in word’ at the minute and for us to have won two games on the bounce for only the second time this season gives me a glimmer of hope that we can build on that and get the momentum going ourselves. Again, getting into good habits comes hand in glove with the building of confidence and this for me is imperative.
Undoubtedly we have a very talented bunch of players and when the confidence is high and we are on our game, we can be a match for most teams, but there will only be a number of occasions in the season when this happens and everything clicks.
There are times when things aren’t quite going your way or you don’t quite get the rub of the green and you have to dig in and grind a result out. This is when the discipline of keeping it tight and giving nothing away comes into its own. I thought we did it quite well last season, we looked like we had learned how to get a result when we hadn’t particularly played well and this surely coincided with the record clean sheets we kept. With the confidence looking to be returning hopefully we can keep this ball rolling.