The Ice Man cometh - SIX talking points after Jordan Rhodes scores again as Sheffield Wednesday make snow mistake against Wycombe Wanderers
It was a big one for Sheffield Wednesday as they took on Wycombe Wanderers…
Sheffield Wednesday’s season has been tough – there’s no escaping that. Form has been much improved under Neil Thompson, but defeats against Coventry City and Millwall dragged the mood down.
There was very much a ‘must-win’ feel about matters when the Owls lined up against the Chairboys in S6 on Tuesday evening, against the only team in the Championship currently in a worse league position than the men from Hillsborough.
It was Wycombe that came out on top last time they met – their first ever win over SWFC – and the hosts were desperate not to become the first team that the Championship newcomers were able to do the double over…
So when Jordan Rhodes opened the scoring in the first half, giving them a deserved lead, they were delighted. But it felt more like relief than delight when Adam Reach’s deflected effort found the net – all but sealing the win – as it set up a relatively stress-free end to the game. Something that Wednesday haven’t experienced in the league for a while.
It’s also the first time they’ve won five on the bounce at home since 2011. A rarity.
Here are some talking points from what could turn out to be a pivotal evening for both of the clubs involved.
A stark contrast
The last time Wycombe came to town it was a summer’s day, Hillsborough was packed to the rafters and the atmosphere was jumping as the Owls sat on the verge of successfully securing promotion having had an impressive season.
On Tuesday, it was absolutely Baltic, the snow was coming down and it was eerily quiet inside a stadium that most certainly missed the cheer of their loyal supporters. It’s a stark contrast to what was one of the best days in recent memory for Wednesdayites, and it could sadly be a while before we see that kind of atmosphere again.
The wide men
It felt like Harris’ best performance in a Wednesday shirt for quite a while… The wingback caused absolute havoc down the Wycombe left hand side, and Jordan Obita will have been pleased when the evening was over.
Not only did he set up Rhodes’ opener and act as a constant thorn in the side of the visitors, but he was excellent defensively and they never really seemed to get a grip on him. That’s two assists this month, and he’ll be eager to keep adding to that tally in the games to come.
Likewise with his fellow wide man, Adam Reach, who worked tirelessly down the left and played a major part in the win. It was a really busy performance, and he massively deserved his goal, even if it did take wicked deflection before going in. They all count.
‘Thommo’ will have been absolutely delighted with their efforts at both ends of the field, and they certainly warranted their starting berths.
When the talk of Celtic started, and it was reported that he’d opened up discussions with the Scottish giants, there were plenty of conspiracies regarding his situation until the end of the season – and how he might not play again.
But The Star has previously reported that he’s up for the fight and wants to help his boyhood club to safety regardless of what lies ahead. Well he came on against Millwall, and was now given a start against Wycombe. So that should bring an end to that for now. He was good, too.
He looks more mobile, he looks leaner, and his goal will be yet another big confidence boost for the Owls’ record signing. He took it so cooly, too.
It was a good overall performance from the forward who didn’t neglect his defensive duties either, but it may come as a surprise that it was his first goal at Hillsborough since back in 2017! He has scored a fair few since then, but they’ve all come on the road. He’ll be hoping he won’t wait that long again.
Before kick off, Wednesday were nine points clear of their opponents and three shy of Birmingham City in 22nd and Derby County in 21st… Thompson and his troops knew that a victory would be enough to get them out of the relegation zone – purely based on the fact that there were no other games being played that would stop it from happening.
It was a huge opportunity for them, there’s no two ways about it. The question was, however, whether they’d – in the words of a Mr. Marshall Mathers – capture it, or just let it slip.
It wasn’t particularly pretty, and there were a few moments when hearts were in mouths, but ultimately the Owls got what they’d hoped for. Three points, and they’re out of the relegation zone.
The game against Wycombe was his ninth game in charge since taking over from Tony Pulis more than a month ago… Bookies say that any manager completing 10 games in charge will be ‘deemed the permanent manager’, so anybody who had a punt on him straight after Pulis could be getting paid out this weekend.
Overall, Thompson’s time in charge has been largely positive. He’s picked up a number of important wins, has made the Owls look a lot more attacking on the field and is utilising a number of academy lads who – for the most part at least – have stepped up to the plate.
There needs to be some clarity though, as well as he’s done, he can’t be the permanent interim manager, and there are few that would argue with the fact that a definitive decision would help everybody move forward.
No doubt Thompson would have the backing of the majority, but it does feel like it needs a rubber seal – one way or the other. He deserves it.