Match verdict on Sheffield Wednesday 1 Derby County 2 – How the Owls are sleepwalking into a relegation scrap

Sheffield Wednesday captain Tom Lees
Sheffield Wednesday captain Tom Lees
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Two wins in 10 matches. One league clean sheet all season. Zero home victories since August. 

Sheffield Wednesday are sleepwalking towards a grim relegation battle.

Wednesday pair Barry Bannan and Joey Pelupessy

Wednesday pair Barry Bannan and Joey Pelupessy

Only three points separate the 18th-placed Owls from the bottom three following a six-match winless run.

"We are not blind; we know where we are in the table and the other teams are getting closer to us," said Wednesday midfielder Joey Pelupessy. "We have put ourselves in this position by losing five of the last six games.

"We showed before if you win a lot that you can get in the top six. We have to get results."

The team's alarming slump in form and slide down the Championship has prompted some supporters to call for a change of manager.

Saturday's defeat to Derby County further cranked up the pressure on boss Jos Luhukay.

The beleaguered Dutch chief said he "does not know" whether he will be given the time to turn things around.

Luhukay said: "I cannot give an answer to that. It is not my decision.

"I try my best every day with my team and we hope we win the next game."

Only rock-bottom Ipswich Town (0) have won fewer home matches than Wednesday (2) in the 2018/19 season.

But the Owls have the worst defensive record in the division, having shipped in 32 goals in 18 outings.

Pelupessy said: "You win as a team and you lose as a team.

"We have made a lot of mistakes in the last few weeks. It is not only the defenders or the midfielders. It is the whole team."

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THE GAME

Wednesday went ahead in the 12th minute after their standout performer Adam Reach latched on a superb pass by Barry Bannan before calmly side-footing a low shot past ex-Owls loanee Scott Carson.

The hosts were on top. Buoyed by the return from injury of Fernando Forestieri, Wednesday looked dangerous as an attacking unit.

Derby dug deep and waited for their chance to pick the Owls off on the counter attack.

Harry Wilson duly delivered before the half hour mark, sending a fierce shot past Cameron Dawson after more sloppy Wednesday defending. It was completely against the run of play.

A dreadful clearance by Michael Hector led to Jack Marriott's 35th minute winner, with the Rams easily going through the heart of the Owls' rearguard. It was all way too easy.

Luhukay said: "We lost in five minutes our lead, and it was totally not necessary. We controlled the first 30 minutes of the game - we played very well, we had chances. The two goals were too easy."

There was not a long wrong with Wednesday's performance. They did more of the attacking in both halves but were made to pay for two defensive lapses in concentration and wayward finishing.

"It was so frustrating because I don't think we played a bad game," said Pelupessy. "We made a few mistakes for the goals.

"It wasn't just one player. It was a few. I think we were a little bit unlucky with the first one but we should have done better for the second."

Jos Luhukay refuses to blame formation change for loss to Derby County

The trouble is the Owls are showing no signs of learning from their mistakes. They keep making the same errors over and over again.

"It's very frustrating when we look back on the last six or seven games and see how easy we give goals away," said Luhukay.

"Teams with offensive quality profit from our mistakes. That has nothing to do with formations or tactics when you see how we conceded the second goal. You cannot at this level give it so easy away."

TWO KEY MOMENTS

Forestieri, one of three changes made by Luhukay, should have restored parity in the second half but poked wide after great approach play by Reach. It was an uncharacteristic miss from the diminutive forward.

Luhukay conceded: "It was not a happy moment for Fernando or the team.

"It was the best chance to score to make it 2-2 and I think we deserved a goal at that moment. But when you don't score, you stay with nothing."

Reach tested the reflexes of Carson from long range while Morgan Fox headed against the post to compound Wednesday's woes. Fox’s header was a golden chance to level things up.

"We fought hard in the second half and we had two or three really good chances," said Pelupessy. "You help yourself by taking your chances. Of course, we are in a difficult situation but I think we showed we are a team in the second half. Maybe we were a bit unlucky. When you play so well, you expect to score.

"We have to keep our heads up. This (Derby) defeat hurts because it was possible to get at least a draw or even win in my opinion."

The reality is Wednesday lost for the third match running at Hillsborough.

STOPPING THE ROT

And it is abundantly clear that Luhukay still has no idea of his best back four, never mind team. His constant tinkering with the side and tactics has contributed to their bad run. Only Luhukay knows why he ditched a three-man defence, which served them well at Sheffield United, for a flat-back four against Derby.

Wednesday are desperate to rediscover a winning formula, starting at home to fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday night.

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