Season underway and a reyt lovely day out – Sheffield Wednesday get miles in the legs at Alfreton Town

There’s something quintessentially British about that first pre-season of the season.

Saturday, 2nd July 2022, 4:46 pm
Updated Sunday, 3rd July 2022, 8:09 am

Sun out, football fans in shorts and last season’s second strip, impassioned chanting and referee vitriol is replaced by a hum more suited to a morning session at Lord’s than a football ground.

Fans greet pals they’ve not seen since May and players tread carefully on pitches that are hard enough to force a bobble or two. And nobody really cares about the result; unless it’s 14-0 of course.

Alfreton Town’s Impact Arena once again played host to the start of Sheffield Wednesday’s pre-season programme and you know what? Everybody had a really lovely time as the two sides played out a 0-0 draw.

Sheffield Wednesday forward Josh Windass played the second 45 minutes of their pre-season draw with Alfreton Town. Credit: Bill Wheatcroft

From a football point of view, how much can you truly tell from such an afternoon?

Well, bits and bobs. Wednesday kicked off their pre-season in a similar 3-5-2 set-up to that they played in for the majority of last season.

And while the suggestion is that Moore is on the search for further tactical flexibility, it suggests they may stick with the system that took them to within a couple of matches of the Championship for the main part. Perhaps.

Fisayo Dele-Bashiru started in a midfield three with Dennis Adeniran and Barry Bannan and acquitted himself nicely, Alfreton unable to cope with those incisive runs from deep.

Within the first 10 minutes the game settled into itself; Sylla Sow failed to get on the end of a curling cross and Barry Bannan forced a save with a rasping outside-of the-foot effort.

Soon afterwards, bundle of energy youngster Jay Glover headed Marvin Johnson’s cross goalwards to force a smart save from George Willis.

Energy was what was wanted by the Wednesday bench, with constant calls for their players to move the ball more quickly, to run with more of a bit between the teeth. And for the most part, they did that.

But that Lord’s hum was steadfast and to a degree the match simply carried out its primary function in that it got miles in the legs and the season under way.

Dominic Iorfa was probably the player to have been handed the biggest challenge – literally – as he wrestled former Lincoln City forward Matt Rhead. Playing at the centre of the back three, he did well.

Darren Moore wasn’t there – his recovery from minor surgery on his knee is reaching its final stages – but will be satisfied with a run-out that saw Wednesday replace all 10 outfield players at half-time.

That put new faces Ben Heneghan, Michael Ihiekwe and Michael Smith in blue and white for the first time and all acquitted themselves well in dusting off the cobwebs.

George Byers came close with a shot that cruised over the bar, Jaden Brown offered impetus going forward and Alex Hunt – seemingly beefed-up after a season out on loan – pushed the ball about nicely. Josh Windass linked play well between midfield and defence.

A devastating start to pre-season it was not. But they rarely are. Wednesday are off and away in 2022/23.

Sheffield Wednesday first half: Dawson; Palmer, Iorfa, Galvin; Glover, Dele-Bashiru, Adeniran, Bannan, Johnson; Sow, Gregory

Sheffield Wednesday second half: Dawson (Charles, 77’); Ihiekwe, Heneghan, Aguas; J Hunt, A Hunt, Byers, Windass, Brown; Paterson, Smith