Sweary Westwood and a vocal Welshman: SIX takes from Sheffield Wednesday's good point at Swansea
Sheffield Wednesday earned their first point under new manager Tony Pulis with a battling display at high-flying Swansea City.
Adam Reach’s first-half goal earned them a point they’d surely have taken before Andre Ayew’s leveller denied them a first-ever win at the Lberty Stadium.
But what of the talking points from South Wales? Let’s take a look at just six..
Where do all Rhodes lead?
With Josh Windass suspended, it fell to Jordan Rhodes to step in as the front man for his first start since the middle of September.
Speaking to the media last week Rhodes was candid in describing his frustration at the opportunities afforded to him by Garry Monk and with Windass out for three matches after his kung-fu mishap at Preston, it seems it might be his chance to build some credit under the new boss.
How did he do at the Liberty? Well, he came off for Elias Kachunga after less than an hour but worked his socks off, a trait his new manager will enjoy.
When Wednesday set up like this, especially away from home, there will be some difficult afternoons for strikers and work rate will be an attribute high on the wanted list.
Once more unto the Reach, dear friends..
Oh how Wednesday fans would love to see a fit, firing and confident Adam Reach back and banging them in from all angles.
The winger – and let’s make it clear, under Pulis he will be used as a winger – peeled off the back post beautifully to grab his first goal of the season in a goal plastered straight from the moulds of Middlewood Road.
The path of Reach’s marker was blocked in a very clever, ‘very Pulis’ manner, the sort of move that has punished the Owls far too many times in the past. This time, it was Wednesday doing the punishing.
Former Middlesbrough man Reach, overused in previous seasons, started to grow in confidence in Monk’s latter weeks and a goal will help.
So too will a spell in a settled position. Get it right and he could provide an important source of goals that disappeared last season.
Just 14 minutes had gone when Keiren Westwood had to take his leave, citing an injury picked up while taking a goal kick.
It’s a horror moment for Pulis after so much optimism surrounding his return to the side after that long lay-off, but in Joe Wildsmith and Cameron Dawson he has deputies experienced enough to step in should the injury be a tough one to shake, as Wildsmith showed by confidently punching away a corner in his first few seconds.
The exact extent of his injury remains to be seen, but the former Republic of Ireland man looked in some pain, holding his groin and telling goalkeeping coach Nicky Weaver “It’s just gone” as he headed down the tunnel.
He also used a flurry of words that can under no circumstances be printed in a newspaper.
It’s a blow to Pulis, who made clear from the outset of his arrival at Hillsborough that Westwood was his preferred option between the sticks. And although in a position they’re pretty well stocked, it’s yet another injury for Wednesday to contend with.
Pu-LISTEN TO ME..
In The Star’s privileged viewing position just 15 metres or so behind the Wednesday dugout, it was fascinating to hear every call, screech and bellow of Pulis and his staff.
The Welshman kicked every ball with his team, positioning them as he wanted and guiding them through their defensive responsibilities in particular. With fans yet to return to stadiums, it is vocal coaches such as Pulis who are enjoying the chance to get their message across.
Whether players are enjoying the option of ‘selective hearing’ is another matter, of course. Pulis’ shout of “LISTEN TO ME” was heard on a number of occasions.
The new boss made no secret of his disgust at poor crosses, he was quick to praise busy efforts and he was not at all shy of a word with the fourth official. He’s a passionate man.
What was especially interesting was how he went about getting the finer details of his tactics across to his players, calling them over to the touchline for in-depth conversations.
A shame, but no disgrace..
For nearly an hour Wednesday kept Swansea at a long arm’s length, reducing them to tentative possession in front of the box and few chances, an impressive feat against a side that pride themselves on fast attacking play.
But that was broken with the intervention of Ayew, who jostled and jinked his way inside van Aken and stroked it past a helpless Wildsmith.
The Dutchman was substituted not long afterwards and cut a frustrated figure on his return to the bench.
A good point..
A point at Swansea is a good result at the best of times and the stretched nature of the Owls squad was laid bare by the quality of the host’s substitutes.
Grafters though Joey Pelupessy and Elias Kachunga are, Pulis simply didn’t have the option of bringing on anything like Andre Ayew, Kasey Palmer or Wayne Routledge from the bench.
It was good to see young Liam Shaw trusted to come on for a nice cameo.
Swansea; Woodman, Cabango, Bennett, Naughton (Palmer, 45), Roberts, Smith, Grimes, Bidwell (Manning, 61), Dhanda, Lowe (Routledge, 61), Cullen (Ayew, 45)
Subs unused; Manning, Fulton, Benda, Latibeaudiere, Rushesha, Cooper
Sheffield Wednesday; Westwood (Wildsmith, 14), Palmer, Börner, Lees, van Aken (Shaw, 70), Odubajo, Paterson, Bannan, Luongo (Pelupessy, 70), Reach, Rhodes (Kachunga, 56)
Subs unused; Penney, Dele-Bashiru, Urhoghide, Brown, Hunt