Sheffield derby: Sheffield Wednesday star out to derail Sheffield United’s promotion charge

Those of a blue and white persuasion will need no reminding of the last Sheffield derby at S6.

Thursday, 28th February 2019, 2:46 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th February 2019, 2:52 pm
Flashback: Tom Lees, Adam Reach, Joost van Aken and David Jones struggle to keep a grip on David Brooks in the 2017 Steel City derby at Hillsborough

Owls old boy Leon Clarke bagged a brace as Sheffield United tore Wednesday apart to secure a famous 4-2 victory on September 24, 2017.

The Blades, led by an inspired David Brooks, raced into a two-goal lead after goals from John Fleck and Clarke. But the Owls staged a stirring fightback and restored parity following strikes either side of half-time from Gary Hooper and substitute Lucas Joao.

Flashback: Tom Lees, Adam Reach, Joost van Aken and David Jones struggle to keep a grip on David Brooks in the 2017 Steel City derby at Hillsborough

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Hillsborough erupted and was still bouncing in celebration when Mark Duffy wriggled his way past Joost van Aken and rifled in United's third. With 13 minutes remaining, Clarke completed the rout after another Owls defensive horror-show.

Asked if Wednesday are eager to make amends for that hammering, midfielder Adam Reach said: "Of course we would like to win. 

"I don't think going out on the pitch anybody's mind will be on that game. It was over a year ago and there is nothing we can do about that result now.

"We would like to stop them getting any momentum going into the end of their season and pushing for promotion and we would like to get to a win because it is our local derby."

Wednesday star Adam Reach

The humiliating 4-2 reversal proved the beginning of the end for Carlos Carvalhal. He never fully recovered from that setback and lost his job on Christmas Eve.

Jos Luhukay, Carvalhal's successor, fared better against Wednesday's neighbours, guiding the club to back-to-back goalless draws at Bramall Lane. 

Reach, preparing for his fourth Sheffield derby, said: "If you don't win against your rivals, I suppose you do owe them one.

"Not so much at Bramall lane because I thought we did really well (there) but of course last season we got turned over (at Hillsborough).

"I can't see that happening again. We are such a solid team now. 

"It will be a tight affair and, obviously, Sheffield United are chasing a bigger prize than we are at the minute in terms of automatic promotion, which is well within their sights.

"They will see every game from now as a cup final but, of course, you don't need that motivation in a derby.

"Hopefully we will take three points off them and halt any momentum they have got going until the end of the season. Obviously, a good result can breed confidence for us to go into the later stages of the season.

For Reach, he knows what the derby means to the people of Sheffield.

"The buzz around the city magnifies and everyone is looking forward to it," he said. "Everyone is scared not to lose. We are the same as players. We don't want to lose. We don't want to let anyone down.

"Sheffield United are going extremely well and they are looking for automatic promotion and for us we are not.

"That doesn't take away how big the game is itself. We want to get the win.

“United are right up there but with the squad we have and the way we are playing at the minute, we should not fear anyone.

"Just because it’s United, and the derby, it adds a little bit extra spice. I think all Wednesday fans will be hoping we can dent United’s promotion push. That would be nice.”

Monday’s clash will be Wednesday boss Steve Bruce's first taste of a Sheffield derby. Bruce, who started his managerial career with the Blades in 1998, said: “In derbies, form goes out of the window. It’s on the night, who handles the occasion the best, who doesn’t make the mistake.

“Is the derby game won by a flash of genius, or it going to be a mistake?

“Let’s look forward to it. The whole country will be watching Sheffield on Monday night, let’s make it a spectacle.

“Yes, there is always going to be huge rivalry, but let the best team win.”

Wednesday are unbeaten since Bruce took charge on January 31, winning three of their six matches.

“Derbies are tense and nervous, everybody is frightened of making a mistake,” said Bruce. “Everybody is on edge, that’s the derby. How often do you see it in a big game?

“We just saw it at the weekend, two of the big teams in the Premier League  - Manchester United and Liverpool - it wasn’t the greatest spectacle, was it? How often do you see it in a cup final, you are looking forward to the game, then it is a damp squib.

“It’s all about one thing, getting a result for your supporters, so they go to work the next morning in a better frame of mind than the opposing team. It means a lot to the supporters.

“I hope it’s a really good spectacle. My experience tells me, it never usually is. Although I witnessed one here last year, which was a decent game, but littered with mistakes.”