Four reasons to be cheerful after Sheffield Wednesday's gut-wrenching late defeat at Stoke City
Sheffield Wednesday supporters shuffling out of the bet365 Stadium after Boxing Day’s bitter 3-2 injury time defeat to Stoke City were right to express their disappointment in the performance that threw away the chance to go within two wins of the automatic promotion places.
But for all the ire, the loss was their first in seven matches, ending a run that saw them rise from the division’s mid-table to become genuine promotion contenders.
There are plenty of reasons to be cheerful despite that defeat. Let’s take a look at just four.
The performance of Cameron Dawson
The goalkeeping conundrum will roll on into the coming weeks you feel, with Keiren Westwood missing out on the trip to Stoke altogether with a recurrence of a shoulder knock.
But in a match that saw Wednesday concede three, Cameron Dawson was their best performer, making a handful of classy saves to keep his side in the game.
The 24-year-old could do little about any of the Stoke goals and is becoming an assured presence between the sticks.
The stats suggest they were pretty ruthless up top
The accusation of wastefulness has been thrown at the Owls too many times this season, which has seen them harbour one of the worst ‘chance conversion’ rates in the Championship.
Not yesterday. Wednesday were only able to unleash four shots at goal, with three of those on target, but two goals scored provides by far their best shots-to-goals ratio this season.
Morgan Fox and Tom Lees – ruthless finishers. Who knew?
Each of Garry Monk’s three subs made an impact. Jacob Murphy’s change of pace earned the corner for Fox’s equaliser and Sam Hutchinson added a mettle to midfield that was absent with an off-pace Massimo Luongo.
But Sam Winnall, who takes the assist for Lees’ header, was perhaps the most influential, offering an energy and spark that neither Atdhe Nuhiu or Jordan Rhodes could muster.
They’re fourth in the league!
And it’s important not to forget that. The Championship is a tough school and these performances and results arrive from time to time.
Frustrating as it was, Sheffield Wednesday are one defeat in seven and well on-course for a play-off finish.