A pesky groin, the training ground and Andre Ayew – Heroes and Villains as Sheffield Wednesday get their first point under Tony Pulis against Swansea City
Given the fact that Sheffield Wednesday are 23rd in the Championship and Swansea were fourth, most fans would probably have taken a draw at the Liberty Stadium…
Things didn’t get off to the best of starts as Keiren Westwood had to go off with a groin injury at about the same time that Josh Windass was sent off in the last game, but it was the Owls who drew first blood through Adam Reach.
Andre Ayew levelled things up in the second half, and despite a last minute scare, Tony Pulis’ side held on and went back to Sheffield with his first point in the bag.
We took a look at the heroes and villains from the clash in South Wales after the Owls added another point to the board.
September 2019. That was the last time that Reach scored for Wednesday in the Championship – so this goal has been a long time coming. And didn’t he take it well?
‘Reachy’ came in for plenty of praise from Pulis after the game, and you can’t help but feel that that goal will have done him the world of good. He’s back out wide where he wants to be playing, and he caught his goal really nicely.
It wasn’t just the goal though, I thought the midfielder put on a good showing at the Liberty, especially in the first half, and hopefully he can get a bit of a run together now.
The training ground
You know how the saying goes, don’t you… ‘That one was straight off the training ground’.
And it was, you could tell. Take a look back at Wednesday’s opener and you can see all the aspects that they had to get right in order for it to work the way that it did.
Aside from Barry Bannan’s perfect delivery and Reach’s excellent finish, check out the blocks from players such as Callum Paterson – who forces his man back to make space – as well as Tom Lees and Julian Börner – who block Reach’s marker. It’s all perfectly executed, and very typical of a Pulis team.
He didn’t half put a shift in. It felt like Paterson covered pretty much every blade of grass at the Liberty to be honest – he was all over the place, in a good way.
It was interesting that when Pulis came in he noted in his first press conference that he didn’t think that the Scot was really a striker, but he has utilised him in a more attacking role in both of his games in charge so far.
Against Swansea, Paterson made a real nuisance of himself – including in Reach’s opener – and won more aerial duels (11) than any other player on the field, and substantially so, too.
I’m intrigued to see what the manager’s long-term plans are for the bit former Hearts man, but he’s certainly proved that he’s prepared to put in the hard yards to try and get points on the board for the Owls.
Mo tackling, please
The decision to move Moses Odubajo further up the field could prove to be an inspired one by Pulis, with the pacey wideman having impressed on the wing during his younger years.
‘Mo’ put in a really good showing on Wednesday night, asking plenty of questions of the Swans’ backline with his speed and agility. He also got stuck in, too.
No player on the field completed more tackles than the former Brentford man, with Odubajo attempting – and completing – four tackles over the course of the 90 minutes, finishing the game with a 100% tackle completion rate.
He spoke earlier in the week about his willingness to play wherever he was needed by Pulis in order to help Wednesday climb up the table, and on last night’s showing you’d think he’ll be in the side against Stoke this coming weekend again.
A villain? Can we name a body part?
Well Westy wasn’t happy, and understandably so. Westwood has just got back into the team, he’s been hyped up by his new manager and looked set to get a bit of a run back in the Wednesday side, but then he’s been hit with another slice of bad luck.
Westwood had to be replaced by Joe Wildsmith after just 17 minutes in Wales, and it remains to be seen how long he’ll be out for. He was heard saying ‘It’s just gone’ as he limped off holding his groin though, and Pulis admitted after the game that Wildsmith may be making a few more appearances now.
Villain is the wrong term, but it felt as though the talented Ghanaian was the turning point for Swansea.
Ayew certainly made Wednesday’s life difficult, and it was only after he took to the field that Steve Cooper’s side really looked like scoring.
For me, he’s a Premier League footballer and has no business in the Championship really, so it’s no surprise that he can come on and change the game in the way that he did.
Maybe Joost van Aken could’ve been tighter on him for his equaliser, but you’ve got to admire his ability, too. He took it really well.
He was also acknowledged by Pulis, who said, “I think Ayew is one of the best forwards in the league, for me, so him coming on was the difference…
“The psychological effect of him coming on, for our defenders, they took a bit of a step back.”