The noise, but... – Sheffield Wednesday fans finally get their Hillsborough return but it’s penalty woes for Owls against Huddersfield Town
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Because – chances are – the Owls weren’t going to win the Carabao Cup, and to be honest, this one was all about the fans.
There was a buzz about Hillsborough in the build-up. The smell of burgers and onions was in the air. And blue and white shirts were everywhere as Wednesdayites finally got the chance to return to their spiritual home. 515 days since their last visit.
It was a pretty entertaining start the encounter, but it was the Terriers asking the early questions as they had plenty of possession and forced new Owls number one, Bailey Peacock-Farrell, into a couple of smart stops that will have done his confidence the world of good.
But while Peacock-Farrell’s debut went well, there was a blow for another debutant as Mide Shodipo was forced off just after the hour mark after chasing down a ball down the left – only time will tell how serious that one is.
Alongside those two, there were four other Hillsborough debuts, with Dennis Adeniran, Lewis Wing and Jack Hunt all getting starts, and Jaden Brown coming on for the injured Shodipo. All gave pretty good accounts of themselves, but it was Wing who probably stuck out the most, showing a number of good touches in the centre as he forms a connection with Owls skipper, Barry Bannan
The second half ebbed and flowed each way, with both team having their spells and a few chances, but it could quite easily have been 1-0 to Huddersfield around the 70-minute mark if it hadn’t been for some defensive heroics from the skipper – who made up lots of ground on Levi Colwill to pull off a remarkable last ditch tackle.
He got injured for his efforts, but thankfully he was back on his feet not long afterwards and back out onto the field.
The game continued to sway back and forth, and with 10 minutes to go it was Brown – who was a straight swap for Shodipo on the left wing – who forced a smart save out of Nicholls in what was the closest that Wednesday had come to scoring.
Fans were in fine voice throughout, and there was a rousing applause as Bannan made way for the competitive return of Massimo Luongo, but there was also a a bit of noise for a certain Jordan Rhodes – who came on for his first Terriers appearance to the sound of boos ringing through the ground.
And he could’ve got some payback, missing two good chances with his head as Huddersfield put plenty of pressure on in the dying moments of the game. Wednesday stood firm, the whistle went, and it was into a penalty shootout…
He did get the last laugh in the end though, shrugging off more boos to slot away from the penalty spot while his former teammates, Luongo and Liam Palmer, saw their efforts saved. It fell to Lewis O’Brien to finish the job, and he did so with aplomb, firing into the top corner to send the Owls marching out of the Carabao Cup.
Well, at least there’s always the Papa John’s Trophy. And there’s a league campaign to focus on anyway.