Sheffield Wednesday comment: What Garry Monk's side must from learn from frustrating Cardiff City draw

As they gear up for a key home double-header with Stoke City and Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday should be sitting comfortably in the Championship play-off positions.

Sunday, 20th October 2019, 9:52 am
Updated Sunday, 20th October 2019, 4:20 pm
Owls midfielder Massimo Luongo in action against Cardiff

But instead the Owls are eighth and now trailing leaders West Bromwich Albion by five points.

Much of the talk since Friday's bruising encounter with Cardiff City has centred around Lee Tomlin's controversial late equaliser. The fact of the matter is it should not have stood.

Tomlin cleverly 'bought' the free-kick by running into Massimo Luongo. It was a very soft, dubious decision.

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But towering Cardiff centre-half Aden Flint then deliberately stood in an offside position to impede Cameron Dawson's view before Tomlin brilliantly curled in the free-kick.

"If you don't get one, you definitely expect to get the other," bemoaned Owls boss Garry Monk. "We didn't get either."

Only referee Keith Stroud and his assistants will know how they failed to spot 6ft 6ins Flint doing 'star jumps' behind Wednesday's wall. You can't legislate for an officiating mistake like that.

Are the Owls getting the rub of the green at the moment? You would have to say the football gods have not shined on them in the last three matches as big decisions have gone against them.

Yet Wednesday only have themselves to blame for not securing their first ever win at the Cardiff City Stadium. They threw away two points by failing to take their chances.

Monk's men bossed the opening hour in South Wales, creating plenty of opportunities, but their finishing, not for the first time this season, let them down.

"We totally controlled it in the first 60," insisted Monk. "They wanted to turn it into a battle from the start but we managed to control it with the ball.

"We managed to get into their final third quite a few times and put them under pressure. We created good opportunities and good situations.

"We should have got that second, possibly even a third to make it more comfortable."

Missed chances came back to haunt the Owls in the final half an hour as Cardiff pinned them back and turned it into a physical contest. Wednesday coughed up the ball at regular intervals, dropped deeper and deeper and invited the Bluebirds on to them.

Did Monk get his substitutions right? Barry Bannan was not at his influential best but is an experienced campaigner at this level so it was a big call to take him off with 17 minutes to go.

Bannan's replacement, Atdhe Nuhiu, has performed well as an impact sub this season. It made sense to bring Nuhiu on as the ball was not sticking at the top end but should somebody else have made way instead of Bannan?

Unless he was tiring or had a knock, why take livewire Kadeem Harris off? If Monk wanted more energy and legs in midfield and attack, he could have thrown on Kieran Lee, Joey Pelupessy or Fernando Forestieri.

Whereas Nuhiu and Jacob Murphy struggled to impose themselves, all Cardiff's subs made positive contributions.

Monk admitted: "We allowed them to dictate in the last 30 minutes and that is a lesson for us. We needed to be a little bit braver to control it in those moments."

Eleven points out of a possible 18 is a very respectable return from Monk's six league outings, although it could and should have been so much more. Cardiff were there for the taking, just as Hull City were earlier this month. The fear is these missed opportunities will come back to bite Wednesday in the long run.

But some perspective is required.

A point at Cardiff is not a bad result by any means. Their home record is excellent and not many teams will beat Neil Warnock's side in their own backyard this term.

And the Owls can take plenty of encouragement from the fact they outplayed Cardiff for long periods. Wednesday were well-organised defensively, full of industry and creativity in midfield and always posed a threat in attack.

As long as lessons are learned from the Cardiff duel, then Monk's men will continue to look up rather than down.