Sheffield Wednesday: Gray denies advantage in knowing Hillsborough’s poor pitch

The Hillsborough pitch cuts up easily
The Hillsborough pitch cuts up easily
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‘It’s the same for both teams.’

Ask any manager about whether the condition of a pitch was a major factor in a result and that is the response most likely to be given.

And it is the sentiment Stuart Gray is sticking to in regards to the much-maligned pitch at Hillsborough.

The Owls head coach does not feel his side’s growing experience of playing on the pitch is aiding their cause.

In fact, he feels opposition teams are as well prepared for the conditions as his own team are.

“Teams have realised what they’re coming to and they’ve probably changed their gameplan a little bit,” Gray told the Star. “So my keeper and back four are going to be a bit busier with long balls coming into our final third.

“The pitch is deteriorating every game so it’s different for our players every time as well.

“They are adapting a bit in that they know what to expect to a certain degree.”

Despite the bobbly conditions, Gray insists he will still encourage his side to play attractive football at home.

And he points to the second goal conceded against Blackburn in the last game at Hillsborough as evidence it can be done.

He said: “I still encourage the players to get the ball down and play as much as they can.

“We can’t blame the pitch for the goals we conceded against Blackburn. One was from a long throw that we didn’t deal with and the other was a lad carrying the ball 50 yards and knocking it in.

“It does show you can run with the ball on that pitch.”

New Owls owner Dejphon Chansiri has pledged to spend £1million in the summer on a new pitch.

And Gray was understandably delighted with the news.

He said: “It’s fantastic news the chairman wants to go ahead with it.

“I think we’re going to get a very good pitch which this club deserves and the players deserve as well.

“Especially with the way I want to play which is getting the ball down and playing through the thirds.”