End of the road for Owls

Boss's praise: Mark Beever's is in good form
Boss's praise: Mark Beever's is in good form
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Wednesday will be back under an old, familiar pressure tomorrow after five games on the road.

The burden of home fans’ expectations will be on their shoulders - something that at times has caused them problems in the past.

But Gary Megson believes that players know about the demands that fall upon Sheffield Wednesday players - and prefer the Hillsborough scenario to many others where they would be playing for smaller clubs in front of smaller crowds.

As the Owls target a first win in four home League games, after three 2-2 draws in a row, the manager says: “I know what I prefer, I know what they prefer. You can go and sign for some clubs and you’ll be playing in front of 3,000, or you can come here and play in front of 23,000.

“They know this before they start; everybody knows the support that Wednesday have, so they’ve got to deal with it.

“That is the big attraction. There’s no point in saying it’s the big attraction, and then when you get here not being able to cope with it.

“Wednesday supporters, the same as supporters throughout the land, will react to someone showing the same amount of pride in the shirt that they do, they will react to someone putting in a really good shift, competing for every ball and really wearing their heart on their sleeve, and if they do those things in front of Wednesday supporters, they will accept it readily.”

Travelling Owls fans appreciated the improved performances at Bournemouth and Carlisle.

Megson added: “The way the players have gone about their work has been fantastic; hopefully we can go about it in the same manner at Hillsborough.

“I have spoken to people who have joined us and told them (though they would know anyway because of what Wednesday’s famous for, the support) that wherever they’ve been they won’t have seen or heard anything like we can get at Hillsborough, yet we’ve been away for the first five games, which has been a bit of a nightmare.

“But such is life - I’m looking forward to getting back down there.”

He could name the same side for the third game in a row - but one that would be very different from the line-up that began the last home match, against MK Dons a month ago, when temporary boss Rob Kelly picked the side, and newly appointed

Megson issued orders and made substitutions during the game, which helped to salvage a point after the team were two down.

That team was: Jameson (with Nicky Weaver injured), Buxton, M Morrison, R Johnson, Jones, J Johnson, O’Connor, Coke, Teale, C Morrison, Madine.

Only three members of that side started the 0-0 draw at Bournemouth and 1-0 win at Carlisle: Reda Johnson, Gary Teale and Gary Madine.

Mark Beevers has been one of the main beneficiaries of the many changes made by Megson before he settled on the successful 4-5-1, or 4-4-3, formula.

The 21-year-old centre-half has been praised by the boss for his performances in the last two games, which have left Megson feeling that the defender’s comeback has been good enough to stave off the need for a left-side centre-half signing.

Lewis Buxton, Jon Otsemobor and Jermaine Johnson are making good progress after their fitness problems but the two right backs are not yet ready for comebacks.

Megson said that tomorrow’s game possibly comes too early for Johnson and added: “Cokey [Giles

Coke] comes back from his suspension, so I think we’re looking a bit healthier.”

With the team 16th in the table, he refuses to set long-term targets and prefers to take one step at a time: “When you’re this club, you have to take baby steps, hopefully positive ones that lead you to where you want to be.

“It’s just the nature of Sheffield Wednesday being in League One. There was somebody on the television, before we played Carlisle, asking the pundit who was on there ‘do you think Sheffield Wednesday will stay up?’ They were talking about us being relegated. We win one game, then all of a sudden it’s the complete opposite.

“In the football club itself, we are all focused purely and simply on trying to beat Plymouth.”

If the Owls can get their home form right, they will have a better chance of a big climb up the table: nine of their remaining 15 games are at home.

The teams

OWLS (possible): Weaver; Hinds, R Johnson, Beevers, Spurr; Sedgwick, Osbourne, Miller, Palmer, Teale; Madine (4-5-1).

PILGRIMS (possible): Larrieu; N’Gala, Nelson, Zubar, Paterson; Bolasie, Fletcher, Arnason, Bhasera; Mason; Fallon (4-4-1-1).

The referee

Iain Williamson (Berkshire): Has given the third highest total of bookings in the country, 104. His four red cards include two in the Brentford v Notts County match on Tuesday.