Missed chances, looking down and a lucky jumper - FIVE talking points as Christmas came early for Sheffield Wednesday against Coventry City
Sheffield Wednesday fans will be able to enjoy their Christmas safe in the knowledge that the Owls are no longer bottom of the Championship table.
It’s taken a while, but Tony Pulis finally has his first win since taking over at Hillsborough – and his 100th Championship victory – and it means that SWFC have leapfrogged Wycombe Wanderers to move up to 23rd place.
A second half goal from Tom Lees, coupled with some staunch rear-guard action, saw Pulis’ men get the better of Mark Robins and his Coventry City side as they finally brought to an end a lengthy run of games without a win.
So Wednesday go into the Christmas break with a clean sheet, three points and safe in the knowledge that they could potentially be out of the relegation zone before the end of the year if results go their way.
Here are six talking points from a big win against the Sky Blues…
We have to talk about Tom Lees, for a couple of reasons really. Firstly because, obviously, he was the match-winner for the Owls in terms of scoring the decisive goal, but he also played a major role in the second half in order to keep Coventry at bay as they pushed for an equaliser.
Lees, who has been offered a new deal at Hillsborough, made more clearances (7) and more interceptions (4) than any other player on the field, and also ended the game with a 100% tackle success rate. He committed just one foul all game.
On top of his performance, it’s also worth noting that the 30-year-old joined a pretty exclusive club by making his 250th appearance for the club. Only Liam Palmer (277) in the current setup has played more, and Lees has achieved his milestone in substantially less years.
When Pulis spoke so highly of Keiren Westwood, and about the qualities that he possesses, he was talking about all of the stuff that he showed on Saturday afternoon.
Westwood was loud, decisive and made some really good stops against Coventry, while his experience in terms of being able to slow the game down and see things out proved to be vital.
His manager was full of praise for him afterwards, speaking of how important he had been in terms of his voice in the changing room etc. but a really nice touch from the Irish international was his message to Wise Old Owl, Susan, who he’d delivered a Christmas present to earlier in the week.
He tweeted saying, “Happy Birthday Susan. We delivered the present you wanted. It’s one win, but super proud to be part it. The lads gave everything they had, the work rate, desire, attitude, discipline!”
More goals, please
A win is a win, of course. And I’m sure I speak for all Wednesdayites when I say I’d take a load more 1-0 wins between now and the end of the season, but the Owls desperately need to start taking advantage of the chances they create.
Pulis pointed out that Josh Windass could’ve had a hat-trick against Coventry, and the striker himself admitted that – after missing a one-on-one towards the end – he was relieved to hear the final whistle because he’d have been ‘in trouble’ if the visitors had equalised.
In all seriousness, Wednesday created more than enough to win the game, but were ultimately lucky that Coventry didn’t take any of the chances that they created for themselves.
We’ve seen time and time again how Wednesday get pegged back after taking the lead, and how often one goal isn’t enough to pick up three points. Thankfully it was enough this time around, but in other games they may not be so lucky.
It may only be on goal difference, but for at least a week, Wednesday will no longer be bottom of the league. On top of that, depending on how other games play out, Wednesday now have a chance at climbing out of the relegation zone completely before the year is out.
Of course won’t be easy, and matches against Blackburn Rovers and Middlesbrough are far from easy points, but the Owls are now four points off 22nd-placed Derby County and 21st-placed Rotherham United (both do have a game in hand after their game was postponed this week) and have a better goal difference than the Rams.
It’s baby steps, isn’t it. There’s no reason – or justification – to get carried away after one result, but Pulis has said repeatedly that they need to get through to January when the transfer window opens, and if they can reach the January window having climbed out of the bottom three, then that’d be a huge boost for the club and the manager.
A Christmas jumper
So I’m not a massively superstitious person, but with Wednesday in the run of form they’ve been in since I got back, I’m willing to try anything.
This week I found myself a blue and white Christmas jumper and thought I’d give it a whirl – I thought it could maybe be the lucky item of clothing that I’ve been desperately searching for.
I said before the game that if we got a result then I’d wear it every week, and afterwards Westwood sent me a tweet saying I can never take it off again. So that’s that – I’m looking forward to wearing my Christmas jumper at Wembley next summer…
I kid, obviously.
(Unless the jumper really does become a lucky omen of course).