Sheffield Wednesday find that attack might be best form of defence after draw with Birmingham City

When he reflects on Saturday's match at St Andrew's, Garry Monk might wonder if he paid his old team just a little too much respect.

Sunday, 23rd February 2020, 11:33 am

Granted, Birmingham City, and particularly their front pairing of Lukas Jutkiewicz and Scott Hogan, have been in excellent form while Sheffield Wednesday, well, haven't ...to say the very least.

It's understandable therefore that Monk felt the need to reinforce the defence and play with five across the back in a bid to prevent the Owls shipping goals with the ease in which they have done on recent games.

You could argue that he might not have needed to.

Sign up to our Sheffield Wednesday newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Sheffield Wednesday's Fernando Forestieri celebrates his penalty goal with the ball up his shirt with team-mate Kadeem Harris. Pic Steve Ellis

A half time switch to a back four, helped by the return from injury of Morgan Fox, plus a new attacking outlet in Connor Wickham saw Wednesday take almost complete control of the match to a point where Monk might wonder what he had been worried about in the first place.

Indeed, the defence in the early part of the first half was too often somewhat chaotic. There was little they could do about the freakish aspect of the Blues' opening goal, when Jacob Murphy directed a corner into his own net after just six minutes.

The second from Jutkiewicz, however, which came after Barry Bannan had leveled for the Owls, was awful from a Wednesday perspective as at least three opportunities were there to merely put in a strong challenge, but were never taken.

Perhaps it was a lack of confidence, maybe it was poor organisation.

Sheffield Wednesday's Barry Bannan hits home his goal. Pic Steve Ellis

Either way, as Wednesday came out in the second half, by now at 2-2 after Fernando Forestieri had slotted home a penalty, a switch to something resembling a 4-4-2 formation reaped rewards.

Monk's side bossed the second half. Fox was excellent. Bannan was back to somewhere near his best and they were a threat going forward.

Murphy made amends for his earlier error by scoring an impressive third for Wednesday and a little bit more composure from the on-loan Newcastle man when he broke through one-on-one with Lee Camp soon after that, could have had the Owls in cruise-mode.

Wickham forced a great save from Camp after a well-struck volley as the visitors continued to threaten but in the end they were denied the three points.

Joy on the Sheffield Wednesday bench after Jacob Murphy's goal looked like giving Garry Monk a win back at Birmingham City. Pic Steve Ells

Once again, conceding a late goal cost Wednesday as Scott Hogan fired in, in injury time. It was tough on the players and the fans. They deserved more and for about an hour were easily the better team.

"You could see in the first half, they had the territory but we probably looked the most dangerous," said Monk.

"They were entering our half a little bit too easy, their centre backs and their midfielders, to put balls into our box.

"Even though we were defending them ok, if that continues it could be more of a problem. I felt even in that first half we looked a threat, we had a few opportunities to get in behind them.

"The idea was to put an extra body there and still have the same threat, put a foothold on the game, not allow them to advance up the pitch too far and I think it worked in the second half.

"We controlled that and limited them to pretty much their only chance which is right at the end and we had enough chances to win it.

"That's why we made the changes, it worked well but unfortunately for us we didn't get the three points.

"That is the be all and end all at this moment when you are in a run like we are but 99% of that performance is exactly what we wanted. We were very unfortunate not to come away with the win."

Unfortunate, indeed.

There will be a great deal of positivity to take from this performance, however.

Confidence will be boosted from the players' perspective. Maybe Monk will be a little more confident, too, having seen that a more attacking set-up which came out in the second half, might just be the best form of defence.