Atmosphere importance laid bare as Sheffield Wednesday's ringmaster of chaos alters Norwich City clash

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Sometimes, it’s the little moments of little somethings that change the course of a football match.

In five years time, Tuesday evening’s 2-2 draw between Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich City will perhaps be remembered only for chaotic celebrations and two late headed goals by Michaels Ihiekwe and Smith. Depending on how the next few weeks go, it may well be remembered especially fondly as the scrambled point that kept the Owls in the Championship.

Perhaps won’t won’t rush to mind so vividly is a lung-busting Callum Paterson charge-down that in all seriousness came to little in terms of tangible on-field advantage.

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The bustling Scot, newly returned from three months on the side lines, belted through the Norwich defence once, twice, three times, chasing with the enthusiasm of a Labrador let off the lead. From that moment, itself triggered by a hugely effective quadruple substitution in which the Labrador was let loose and a change in style that was later jokingly crowed as ‘Pulis-ball’, the evening changed a touch.

Executed at the Kop End, finishing somewhere towards the South Stand, the noise of appreciation rose from supporters with every step and lifted a crowd previously locked in morose disappointment. Wednesday had been booed off at half-time with supporters having been locked in shell-shocked frustration from the concession of two avoidable goals.

In an interview with club media conducted with a grinning Paterson still draped in his match shirt, the Edinburgh battler spoke honestly about the importance the Wednesday fans will have when it comes to the scrap for Championship survival.

“The atmosphere means everything to the boys,” Paterson said. “It was a bit flat in the first half for obvious reasons; 2-0 down and not playing too well. But the lift that the crowd gave us, you can see what happens when we go on to draw the game 2-2.

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“It’s not just Saturday, it’s every game now between now and the end of the season. We need the fans and hopefully we can repay them with performances.”

That half-time reshuffle also brought Will Vaulks, Pol Valentin and Kristian Pedersen onto the field, with Bailey Cadamarteri arriving later. They were subs that injected a shot of chaos into proceedings, in particular Valentin’s arrowed running from wide right and a Vaulks set piece delivery that earned two assists.

The contrast in atmosphere from first half to second was noted by Owls boss Danny Röhl.

“I love our supporters,” he said. “They know how important they are, but sometimes, in some moments, we need a little bit more of the feeling we need as a big team. I understand that if we are not playing well then it is sometimes hard to do it but in these moments it is good when we are together.

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“In the second half we created an energy on the pitch, the crowd followed off the pitch and this result (of energy both on and off the field) gave us the 2-2.”

Röhl has shown himself a boss not shy of expressing his feelings in recent weeks and Paterson’s report on what happened in the bowels of Hillsborough at the break suggest more home truths.

“I daren’t go in,” the Scot smiled when asked on the half-time mood. “I was a bit scared to go in there, so I just hung about outside. The gaffer wasn’t happy, he wanted changes and he made the changes at half-time. Thankfully it paid off for him. Everybody is here to play for the team. Whenever we’re called upon, we have to be ready and the boys that came on put in a shift and did the hard work.

“It was a bit of carnage, but it’s a massive point for us really at this stage of the season. We were panicking a bit trying to get a winner at the end, but that point is a massive point against Norwich who are doing well this year. We needed it.”

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Having spent such a long time watching from the stands - he’d sat out since Boxing Day before his return to action at QPR last weekend - what’s clear is that the man described as Wednesday’s ‘Duracell Bunny’ by teammate Michael Smith later in the evening is primed for the scrap with four matches to go. In 45 minutes he won three aerial duels and sprinkled some ‘carnage’ onto proceedings, starting from that lung-bust.

For the man who once admitted he was ‘no Ronaldinho’ in terms of rich technical ability, it is perhaps the sleeves-up characteristics of his like that will play a part in the key moments of the weeks to come. From the moment his triple chase-down had lifted things, Hillsborough went from passive to pugnacious.

“Head it, kick it - that’s all I want to do!”, he joked. “It was a game I enjoyed, it was good to get back out there first and foremost. I have worked hard with the physios and I thank all of them for me getting me back out there as soon as possible. It’s been a long time sat watching, so I’m thankful to be out there.

“I just want to be out there helping the team and thankfully I was able to do that today.”