A man of the match and a ridiculous record: SEVEN talking points from Sheffield Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Reading
Sheffield Wednesday once again showed renewed character as they battled to a 1-1 draw with high-flying Reading at Hillsborough.
A confident start saw the Owls earn a 1-0 lead before young Liam Shaw was red carded. And they had their fair share of calls, too, as Reading were turned down in a handful of penalty shouts.
Tony Pulis made clear his pride in the effort shown by his side to get their reward for a committed performance and their ability to bounce back from being slapped down to 10 men for the fifth time this season.
Here are seven snap talking points from Wednesday’s third draw on the spin.
Another outing, another red card for Sheffield Wednesday. No Championship side was slapped with more than six reds last season but the Owls look set to smash that tally. After 15 matches this season they have five and it’s simply ridiculous.
Three of those have come in the first half of matches, all five; to Joost van Aken, Tom Lees, Kadeem Harris, Josh Windass and now young Liam Shaw, have been straight reds. Only one came in what could reasonably be described as a dangerous situation.
Was Shaw’s mistimed tackle on Omar Richards a red? It was yet another example of an Owls player giving the referee a decision to make. On another day he may have gotten away with a yellow, but despite a touch on the ball, it was ugly and could fairly be considered dangerous.
So much has been surmised about the dwindling attacking output of Adam Reach in recent months.
Once Wednesday’s most exciting, dynamic attacking threat out wide, his numbers have dropped as the toll of a near ever-presence took hold. It’s not long ago he looked utterly exhausted and bereft of confidence.
This new dawn for the Owls seems to have invigorated him, however, with Pulis well-known to love an old-fashioned winger. Gone it seems are the days of constant chopping and changing of Reach’s starting position.
An excellently taken goal and assist in his new manager’s first four matches is a fine return. If the Owls can get Reach fit, firing and settled, he’s a player that could return to his former glory fairly quickly in this new system.
His cross for Paterson to open the scoring was a thing of beauty, the run to put him in that position equally impressive.
Plaudits, please, to Kadeem Harris for his directness in the middle of the park and a nicely threaded pass to find Reach out wide.
The assist-grabber will rightly earn praise alongside goalscorer Paterson, who finished nicely, but in a season Wednesday have failed to show incisiveness in the final third, refreshed Harris was able to do just that.
If he and Reach can provide more moments like that, Wednesday’s goal threat will surely improve.
Just 14 minutes after Shaw’s red card, a soft free-kick went against the Owls just outside the box and Reading took full advantage through the most predictable of goalscorers, former Owl Lucas Joao.
The forward has been in fine form this season and scratched another notch on his tally with a scruffy header. He cared not but didn’t celebrate against the club that brought him to England.
Few argued Joao’s sale last summer, but how they could do with someone with his current goal touch right about now.
There were diligent, honest performances all over the pitch for Wednesday as they earned a point after an hour with 10 men. It was a wholehearted effort that has already become a theme in Pulis’ young reign.
But The Star’s man of the match? Joe Wildsmith earns the gold star for producing a number of excellent saves. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Keiren Westwood is cleared fit.
Tony Pulis has made clear that consistency in selection and set-up will be a feature in the early days of his Wednesday reign and he showcased that by naming an unchanged side at his first opportunity. He won’t be able to do so again on Saturday of course, given the absence of Luongo and the very likely absence of Shaw.
Save for Kadeem Harris and Shaw, the starters have now played the lion share of three matches in seven days, with another gruelling round of matches arriving on Saturday, at Norwich, on Tuesday at Huddersfield and then back at home for the visit of Barnsley.
It’s a big test for what is essentially a pretty small squad, especially given Pulis’ very real concerns over injuries. Barry Bannan went off at half-time having been moving a little gingerly, while Liam Palmer and Joost van Aken were also spared at the break. It’s a difficult one for the manager to navigate.
Shaw won’t be the only Owls player to miss Saturday’s long journey to Norwich. Massimo Luongo’s second half yellow card was his fifth of the season and will see him suspended for the one match.
It’ll certainly be a blow for the Owls to miss two of their more defensive-minded midfield men for the challenge of the attack-minded Canaries.
And if Barry Bannan misses out through injury? It’ll be all-change in midfield.
Sheffield Wednesday: Wildsmith; Palmer (Odubajo, 45), Lees, Börner, van Aken (Pelupessy, 45); Harris, Luongo, Shaw, Bannan (Iorfa, 45), Reach, Paterson
Subs unused: Penney, Dele-Bashiru, Rhodes, Brown, Dawson, Kachunga
Reading: Cabral Barbosa; Holmes, Morrison, Moore, Richards; Rinomhota, Laurent, Semedo; Olise, Ejaria; João
Subs unused: Walker, Pontes Esteves, McIntyre, Baldock, Gibson, Aluko, Tetek, Watson, Onen