The ref… Twice? – Heroes and Villains as defensive heroics secured a point for Sheffield Wednesday

Depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty, Sheffield Wednesday are unbeaten in three or winless in five – either way, they’re still massively up against it.

Thursday, 3rd December 2020, 12:00 pm

Depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty, Sheffield Wednesday are unbeaten in three or winless in five – either way, they’re still massively up against it.

The Owls put in a battling performance against Reading on Wednesday evening, withstanding heavy pressure to hold off a high-scoring Royals side despite being down to 10 men for two thirds of the game.

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Liam Shaw’s dismissal meant that – for the sixth time this season – Wednesday would be forced to make it to the final whistle without their full complement of players, five of which were due to red cards.

We took a look at the heroes and villains from Hillsborough as Tony Pulis’ wait for a first Owls win continued…

Joe Wildsmith

When Pulis arrived, he made it abundantly clear that Keiren Westwood was his number one, and he set about registering him and then threw him straight into the starting XI.

It looked like another chance for Wildsmith to establish himself had fallen by the wayside. Fast-forward a couple of games though, and a Westwood injury opened the door for the Owls graduate once again.

And since then he hasn’t put a foot wrong. He was superb against Reading, including one tremendous save to keep out Alfa Semedo at point blank range, and it’s now his shirt to lose, you’d think.

The ref?

It’s hard to disagree that Wednesday did get a bit of good fortune from Oliver Langford, with a number of potentially legitimate penalty shouts turned down for the hosts…

Liam Shaw became the latest player to get sent off for Sheffield Wednesday. (Pic Steve Ellis)

Moses Odubajo, Julian Börner, Adam Reach and Elias Kachunga all escaped punishment amid handball shouts, kicks and shirt pulling, and it’s pretty safe to say that Wednesdayites would have felt VERY hard done to if the shoe had been on the other foot.

It wasn’t though, and Langford wasn’t having any of it, so a bit of a hat tip to the ref for that.

Callum Paterson

He took his goal really well, and while it wasn’t a performance for the ages from the Scotsman, the man just doesn’t give up on anything.

Paterson ran his socks off while playing in a variety of roles at Hillsborough on Wednesday night, and showed just what sort of threat he can be with the way that he directed his header back across the goal to open the scoring for the Owls.

His work rate is superb, and you can’t help but love his sense of humour, too. He cupped his ears at the empty away end after he got his second of the season.

It was a great goal, too. There was brilliant work from Kadeem Harris and Adam Reach in the build-up, and it’ll be just the sort of move that the boss is looking to see more of.

The centre backs

What a performance from them, right? Yes, there were too many dangerous freekicks given away around the edge of the box, but other than that you can’t really fault any of them.

Julian Börner and Tom Lees were immense as the centre pairing that started and finished the game, repelling wave after wave of Reading attacks over the course of the 90 minutes.

Lees made more clearances (11) than the entire Royals side (7), and finished the game with a 100% tackle success rate, while Börner made more interceptions (4) than any other player on the field.

They both made some really crucial interventions after Wednesday went down to 10 men, and Dominic Iorfa deserves a nod, too, for coming into the back three and slotting in so seamlessly.

The ref, again?

There’s been plenty of debate about Shaw’s red card since it happened, with many – obviously – split on whether Langford was right to dismiss him.

On another day, and certainly in previous years, it could well have been a yellow. It was reckless, Pulis admitted that, but regardless it really put Wednesday up against it. ‘Villain’ is probably harsh, though.

It was Wednesday’s fifth straight red card of the campaign after Joost van Aken, Lees, Harris and Josh Windass, and means that Pulis is extremely short on options in midfield after Massimo Luongo’s yellow card also means that he’ll miss the trip to Norwich City as well.

Liam Shaw

He’s a kid, and like the manager said afterwards, he deserves a bit of slack. Wildsmith told us that everybody got around him in the changing room and nobody dug into him for his sending off, admitting that he was ‘gutted’ about it.

Branding him a villain is probably unfair, but there’s no doubt that his challenge made life difficult for the Owls and their chances of picking up all three points were hugely affected by the fact that they were down to 10 men, but also because of the changes that Pulis had to make because of it.

He’s now out for the next three games after what his manager called a ‘stupid’ challenge, saying, “It was a reckless challenge. You can’t go in that strongly in the modern game. We played well up to that point.

"Shawy has been stupid today. It was reckless challenge that should never happen. I can give Shawy some grace. He’s a young lad.”

Up until his sending off, he’d looked really steady and was playing his part in keeping Reading at bay, so he’ll be massively disappointed that things got tainted by his red, but also that his chance at a run of first team games is now at an end.

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