There’s life in the old Owls yet! - SIX talking points as Sheffield Wednesday run riot against Cardiff City

Nobody expected that kind of Sheffield Wednesday performance…

By Joe Crann
Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 6:00 am
Sheffield Wednesday ran riot against Cardiff City. (Pic Steve Ellis)
Sheffield Wednesday ran riot against Cardiff City. (Pic Steve Ellis)

The sun was out, but it was bitterly cold afternoon at Hillsborough as the Owls went up against a Cardiff City side that have found some real form since Mick McCarthy’s arrival.

Wins are very much a necessity for Darren Moore’s side as the business end of the 2020/21 campaign very much gets underway, but a victory over the Bluebirds was certainly not one that many will have been banking on – let alone in this style.

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Wednesday were out of the traps like greyhounds, and while Moore couldn’t be at the game after testing positive for COVID-19 last week, he’ll have had a big smile on his face after Julian Börner, Callum Paterson and Adam Reach gave his side an impressive 3-0 lead going into the break.

And while there could have been concerns of a second half Alamo effort from the visitors, it got better from Wednesday. They weathered any storm that Cardiff did manage to bring forth, and then Jordan Rhodes and Reach (again) made it five.

It was just an egg-cellent Easter display from a rampant Owls who looked nothing like a team propping up the foot of the table.

Quite the contrast, and then not…

Things were quite different the last time that Wednesday played Cardiff… It was the first day of the season, and although the Owls were dealing with a points deduction there was a bit of an air of optimism about the place.

Garry Monk had gotten his technical team in, the transfer window – on paper at the time at least – had been a good one, and there was hope that this side had enough in them to pick up enough points to at least finish 21st.

And that was backed up in the first 45 minutes as a confident Wednesday side put their opponents to the sword thanks Windass and Rhodes. It was assured and it was convincing.

Fast forward before kick off today, and Wednesday were bottom of the Championship once again, and a lot of that optimism had disappeared.

That was until about five minutes in, of course. And then it felt almost like a carbon copy of that trip to Wales, with SWFC taking an early lead and dominating proceedings. It was 3-0 at the break, and they were cruising. By the end it was five, and quite frankly could’ve been more.

There’s life in the old Owls yet.

Barry Ryan Bannan

He was good against Watford, but tonight was peak Barry Bannan. He was everywhere, doing everything.

Bannan won Sky Sports’ Man of the Match, and to be honest they weren’t left with much choice. His desire to push forward, the part he played in the goals, his superb work on the ball – it was very much Bannan of old.

Even his toughest critics would have to sit back and admire his dynamic performance in the heart of Wednesday’s midfield, made possibly by Sam Hutchinson and Paterson of course, as he ran things like conductor in an orchestra. It was truly wonderful to watch.

Literally everybody else…

Bannan deserved singling out because of just how good he was, but it’s important to note that there was literally not a bad Wednesday performance out there at Hillsborough.

Every player to a man played their part, and Moore will be absolutely delighted that all of them were able to show that kind of spirit and quality against a side still pushing for the Play-Offs.

The defence were solid and never let their concentration drop, Wildsmith was commanding in goal, the midfield went for everything and the forwards played their role leading the line but helping in defence when required.

It was just a superb team performance and could act as a huge springboard for the final run of games.

A lovely touch

Maybe it was a case of some instant karma for the Owls, who produced a lovely touch for Cardiff’s Sol Bamba before kick off, handing over a specially made shirt for the experienced defender who is currently battling cancer.

The 36-year-old was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma earlier this year and is currently undergoing chemotherapy… As a tribute, Bannan handed over a Wednesday shirt with his name and number 22 on the back, handing it over to Flint before the game got underway.

It was a nice gesture from the home side, one of many that they’ve made over the course of what has been an incredibly difficult period for so many.

Before a ball was kicked

The day didn’t get off to a great start for Wednesday even before they’d had chance to play any part in it…

While Wycombe Wanderer’s win over Rotherham United was bittersweet, it was the Coventry City result that was really damaging.

Wycombe’s win may have sent the Owls bottom of the Championship, but it did stop Rotherham picking up any points. SWFC have a game in hand on the Chairboys and – if they’rew going to survive – will need to get above them anyway, however the Millers are still playing catch-up.

With Coventry, though, their impressive 3-1 win over Bristol City took them 10 clear of the Owls before kickoff, meaning Moore’s side needed nine points to just catch Birmingham City in 21st.

The task isn’t getting any easier, and now all eyes will be on the Birmingham game tomorrow. Wednesday could only play their part today, and they did that with aplomb.

Onto Queens Park Rangers now, and there’s a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

The fans…

The only downside to the game is that no fans were there to witness it… These are the games that fans live for, the ones that are the most enjoyable, and sadly this pandemic has robbed them of that opportunity this time around.

It wasn’t the same seeing a Reach rocket without the roar. We’ll never get used to it.

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