Sheffield Wednesday: Owls’ Cup players fail to impress Dave Jones

Steady job: Joe Mattock compensated for the absence of the rested Reda Johnson at MK Dons, as one of seven changes
Steady job: Joe Mattock compensated for the absence of the rested Reda Johnson at MK Dons, as one of seven changes
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DAVE Jones feels that certain players who were given a chance in the FA Cup now have no cause to complain if they are left out of the Championship team again, writes Paul Thompson.

The Owls boss, though he made seven changes for the MK Dons replay, picked a side that he believed was good enough to overcome League One opposition.

But his verdict is that, on the whole, fringe players did not do themselves justice.

“A lot got a run-out,” said Jones. “They can’t come knocking on my door and starting moaning. You’re only as good as your last game.”

Whatever side he picks against Wolves on Saturday, he will expect a more positive performance.

He felt that a positive in the 2-0 knockout on Tuesday was the way the team had some possession: “We got into good positions. But we didn’t pull the trigger. Sometimes you have to shoot.”

He will revert to a line-up that resembles more closely the one that started at Hull.

“We have to perform as well as we have done before,” he says.

At MK Dons he was without the suspended Jeremy Helan and did not want to risk players who were carrying knocks or, in view of their injury histories, may have suffered though playing three games in a week and will be needed for another big Championshiop game this week.

The list included Reda Johnson, Anthony Gardner, Rhys McCabe and Giles Coke, who at Hull played his first league game for the club in 21 months. Jones also said that Michail Antonio was feeling tired - hence his absence from the starting line-up for the first time this season, though he was one of the subs sent on in an effort to turn the game.

Joe Mattock was solid at left back and again compensated for the absence of Johnson. Martin Taylor, in for Gardner, again had a steady game, as he did in the 0-0 Hillsborough draw with the Dons.

Stephen Bywater could be counted on to do as good a job as Chris Kirkland. and did so in the first game. The goal that beat him on Tuesday from a free kick that was crossed from the wing was of the kind that is difficult for a keeper because he expects it to be cleared by the defenders in front of him.

Pace was the key at Hull, but with Antonio and Helan out. and Jermaine Johnson going off in the 11th minute, Jones had to admit that the Owls did not have the pace to get behind the Dons.

“JJ’s just got a stiff back,” says the manager. “I think he landed awkwardly; he went into spasm, so get him off - it’s not worth risking it.

“He’ll have a good stretch and a massage and we’ll see how he is.”

Jones’s dissatisfaction with referee Lee Collins - he accuses him of being influenced by the experienced Alan Smith - was accompanied by the comment: “We sort of lost our shape and discipline; certain players need to be stronger and better than that and not get involved”.

That was almost certainly aimed at Miguel LLera, who was provoked into some niggly encounters with Ryan Lowe and Smith, who escaped a booking for a late tackle on him.

Jones will also look for a return to the team’s recen defensive form, which earned clean sheets.

“The goals we conceded came from our errors. The first was a penalty; Lewis (Buxton) got caught on the wrong side; that’s poor and he knows it. The second was just a free kick that went straight in; I’ll have to have a look at that again.”

Did you know? When Michail Antonio was on the bench for the FA Cup replay on Tuesday, it was the first he had not started a league or cup game since he joined the club in February.

WE asked fans online whether they thought there is a positive side to an FA Cup exit. Here are some of the replies:

“Ok, Wednesday are more interested in Championship survival than the FA Cup. BUT what about the fans who made an expensive trip on a freezing night?. They deserve a free ticket to the next home match,” said M1ccowl.

“Can’t say I’m devastated by the loss,” saisdpps076, “though I did think that we should have won, even with our so-called fringe players.”

Said diesel dog: “I feel sorry for the travelling fans but we have much, much bigger fish to fry.”