Sheffield Wednesday v Gillingham: Owls play into Steve Evans' hands and throw away more points
Darren Moore should have had 'DON'T CONCEDE FIRST' wallpapered all around Middlewood this week.
And in the home dressing room before the match. Projected it onto the Arts Tower. Forced the players to listen to a recording of him saying it on a loop while they slept. And then spammed it into the WhatsApp groups.
For while we know that this team finds it inexplicably difficult to come from behind and win, no matter who they are playing, doing so against a team managed by Steve Evans was going to make things almost impossible.
So when former Owls trainee Vadaine Oliver took advantage of some sloppy defending to put Gillingham 1-0 up on 22 minutes, Moore and most of Hillsborough will have feared the worst.
Those fears didn't quite come to fruition but the best Wednesday could offer was another point in a match they should be winning and probably would have done so had they not handed Oliver that one chance.
Florian Kamberi came to the rescue to ensure it wasn't a defeat but once again it's two points dropped for a team who draw more than Tony Hart (ask your parents, kids).
Wednesday’s players were going to have to work hard to get an ovation like the one that poured out of the Hillsborough stands before the match had even begun.
In an emotional moment before kick off, following the playing of The Last Post, 101-year-old Cyril Elliott – Sheffield’s only surviving D-Day veteran – laid a wreath on the turf.With that, the biggest hero on the pitch walked off, blue and white scarf held aloft, to rapturous applause.
From then it was up to those on the pitch to get the crowd going and Wednesday looked like doing just that in the early stages.
Theo Corbeanu was an early threat going forward and linking up well with Fisayo Dele-Bashiru and Florian Kamberi.Corbeanu and Dele-Bashiru combined well on the right in the 9th minute with the latter crossing for Callaum Paterson to try a neat backheel which it the post.
The Owls pressed and looked comfortable but as has been the case up until the last few games, the chink in the armoury is the defence and that was writ large when midway through the first half having previously looked under little threat, Wednesday conceded a dreadfully poor goal.
A straight ball from a free kick in the middle of their half wasn’t dealt with; an unmarked Oliver latched onto a flick-on and slotted past Wildsmith. Too easy and indicative of the type of goal Wednesday have been shipping in this season.
What made matters worse was the opposition.
You can guarantee that Steve Evans' team talk will have gone something like this: "Keep it tight, nick a goal and sit on it. Waste time, frustrate them and the fans will get on their backs."
That's what happened, although to their credit the home supporters did attempt to keep getting behind the team, they just weren't offered much by way of inspiration.
The early period of attacking promise was difficult to replicate as Gillingham slowed down the play, taking an age over throw-ins and set-pieces.At one point when Wednesday won a corner, three Gillingham players just slumped to the ground to kill off a few more seconds.
The clear tactic was working wonders for the visitors. Wednesday attacked, the defence block, a shot goes wide and goalkeeper Jamie Cumming takes his time to get going.
Rinse and repeat.
However, the Owls never stopped.
They kept going. They kept trying to get themselves back into the game, despite the frustrating nature of how the match was panning out.
And they got finally their rewards with 15 minutes remaining when Barry Bannan's strike was parried by Cumming and Kamberi was there to knock in from close range.
While there was a little bit of a surge for a winner, it never really looked like coming.
The visitors were brave in their defending and threw everything at Wednesday to keep them at bay. For that alone, the probably deserved to take a point back down south.
The manner in which they earned it will probably stick in the craw of Owls fans, but what did they really expect from a Steve Evans side?
Sheffield Wednesday: Wildsmith, Palmer, Dunkley, Johnson, Corbeanu, Dele-Bashiru, Wing, Shodipo, Bannan, Paterson, Kamberi. Subs: Brown, Adeniran, Luongo, Berahino, Render, Brennan, Sow.
Gillingham: Cumming, Jackson, Tucker, Ehmer, Akehurst, O'Keefe, Phillips, Lloyd, Dempsey, Oliver, Akinde. Subs: Reeves, Chapman, Adshead, Sithole, Lintott.
Referee: John Busby (Oxfordshire)