Alan Biggs: Sheffield Wednesday star ‘has the key to the play-offs in his hands’

For weeks now the emphasis has been on Sheffield Wednesday stacking up points from a run of so-called “easy” home games.

The long-range forecast of squally back-to-back visits to Bolton and MK Dons was the reason for the weather warning.

Read More

Read More
Sheffield Wednesday get ‘very, very talented’ midfielder in on trial – compariso...

Make hay while the sun shines, we all said. Well, they have done. Sixteen points reaped from five Hillsborough games to see Darren Moore’s side into the top six.

Barry Bannan and Lee Gregory celebrate the winning goal against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy going to highly-respected Bolton on Saturday. Or even preferring it.

Same with visiting second-placed MK Dons the following weekend. I happen to know that skipper Barry Bannan, for one, is looking forward to both games for a change of dynamic.

It’s a different type of pressure, a very different type of game.

While Wednesday’s away form has given some cause for concern - losing three of the last seven - Bannan, from a chat last weekend, is relishing an opportunity for the Owls to play with more freedom and fluency.

Some of the Hillsborough games have been a repetitive struggle, even if the results say otherwise and the Owls have racked up more home points than any club in the country.

It’s taken either early goals or individual brilliance, or both, to achieve the five and six goal hits over Burton and Cambridge.

Same with a comfortable win over Charlton. But the only team to really come out and attack Wednesday were Cheltenham, finally and somewhat harshly picked off by a 4-1 scoreline.

The Accrington and Wimbledon games showed what can happen when the Owls are a little off their game. Accrington sat back and soaked up a 1-1 draw; Wimbledon would have done the same but for Lee Gregory’s dramatic stoppage time winner last Saturday.

It wasn’t just the relief and euphoria of the moment that had Moore’s men looking ahead with optimism to challenges that look much tougher on paper.

Although players will always favour being at home, it can be stifling with opposing teams backing away yards off the ball and adopting time-wasting tactics seldom clamped down on by referees.

Wednesday could and should have moved the ball quicker last weekend but had to be patient to try to create an opening, knowing that a long ball or deep cross would only make the opposition retreat further.

The two away tests will give them a chance to play more quickly through the thirds against home teams pushing onto them.

Bannan, whose form is sublime regardless, having set up both goals against Wimbledon, will look to his side to capitalise on a sense of release.

Certainly, with four of the last six matches on the road, he, more than anyone, has the key to the play-offs in his hands.