Sheffield Wednesday must learn how to win ugly if they wish to compete in the upper echelons of the Championship.
That’s the message from Owls boss Stuart Gray following Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at home to Millwall.
Lions substitute Magaye Gueye struck in the fifth minute of added on time to prevent Wednesday from securing their first home league win of the campaign.
Gray said the dressing room was feeling “very, very low” after failing to hang on to maximum points.
He said: “We’ve got to realise that not everyone is going to lay down and let us play. You’ve got to mix your game up. Sometimes you have to grind a result out. I felt once the five additional minutes went up we should have managed the game a little better.”
As well as questioning their game management, Gray felt the team gave away possession far too cheaply in all departments.
The Owls chief said: “I’ve got young players in the team who’ve got to learn from this experience and take it on board. Sometimes it’s not about chasing a second goal. We should’ve picked them off but we weren’t as good on the ball as we have been.
“We didn’t get to the heights against Millwall that I know we’ve got to this season but sometimes you’ve got to win ugly and unfortunately we didn’t.”
Gray felt Millwall’s tactics stifled their flair players: Chris Maguire and Jacques Maghoma. He claimed the Lions doubled up on the two wingers and that Ian Holloway’s side stopped full-back Liam Palmer and Joe Mattock from pushing forward.
“We didn’t reach the heights because of the opposition,” he insisted. “Millwall obviously did their homework on us.”
Gray said losing Sam Hutchinson to injury was a “big loss”. The midfielder was taken off in the 66th minute with a back problem. The 25-year-old went for a scan on the knock yesterday.
He stressed: “There was no way Sam could carry on. His back went into a bit of a spasm. I’m not carrying the biggest of squads so it’s disappointing.”
Injuries to Hutchinson and Kieran Lee have further depleted Gray’s midfield resources. Lee had a couple of injections in his groin on Tuesday but Wednesday’s medical team believe it is unlikely he will be ready for the trip to Middlesbrough this weekend. Gray is refusing to put a timescale on when Lee will next be available.
A new centre-back, winger and striker are top of Gray’s wish-list before the transfer window closes on September 1 but he has indicated he may turn to youth.
He stressed: “The development players can come in. If they are good enough, they will get their opportunity.”
The midweek draw with Millwall extended the Owls’ unbeaten run to four matches in all competitions. Lions manager Ian Holloway was relieved they maintained their positive start, especially after Shaun Williams missed an 85th minute penalty.
He said: “I thought we got lots of things wrong in the first half: we over played, we over passed, we forgot to try and create anything against a very good team.
“I thought it was a very tough game for us. Second half we got a little bit better.
“I was so proud of my boys to not only get over the disappointment of missing a penalty but to still have enough skill and prowess to create a wonderful goal and score it. I’m delighted because it feels like we’ve won a game. The fact is, it’s one point all and I think it was one point deserved, each way.
“I feel buzzing and I’m sure Stuart [Gray] does deep down because his team are so far away from when he took over. He has done a brilliant job.”