Two new faces, paperwork and a season's first: The big takes from Sheffield Wednesday's cup defeat at Fulham
The midweek frolics of the Carabao Cup are over for another year for Sheffield Wednesday after a more polished, more experienced and higher quality Fulham side took a Thames-side 2-0 win at Craven Cottage.
As has been the case through a mini-cup run that saw them take in the surroundings of Walsall and Rochdale en route to the capital, there were several positives to take on a night that saw the exuberance of youth come out second-best.
One and a half eyes have always been on the league, Garry Monk has maintained throughout, and that half-glance is now gone as Wednesday set sail to Bristol City this weekend.
Here are a handful of takes from our man at the ground Alex Miller.
Waldock well done
Thrusted into the floodlit plains of first team football at relatively short notice, 19-year-old lifelong Wednesdayite Liam Waldock went about his business with confidence in the middle of the Owls midfield, pushing the ball about nicely and doing everything he could to impose himself on the game.
He was in for Alex Hunt at late notice, the youngster picking up a knock in one of the side’s late training sessions, and became the third academy graduate to make his senior bow on this run after Ciaran Brennan and Conor Grant at Rochdale last week.
As those who have seen him play in the under-23s would suggest, Waldock is all about all-action, bounding around, being a nuisance. In senior football it was perhaps a little more incumbent on him to stay a touch more disciplined and he did that, playing with a real sense of maturity.
The most breathtaking debut in the history of Sheffield Wednesday? Not quite, he faded a touch, but it should be taken as a very good sign that for the most part he did not look out of place.
Charles Hagan came off the bench to run his socks off up top, too.
We’ve seen some pleasing starts to football careers over the past few months – and three in the last nine days – and it says a lot for the environment Garry Monk and his team have built.
Men against boys?
It felt like that at times, probably because at times, well, it was.
Both of Fulham’s goals came from little half-lapses from Liam Shaw and Ciaran Brennan respectively on a night that saw the two of them acquit themselves well once again. Up against a well-drilled Premier League attack clearly hurting from back-to-back league defeats, you have to say on the balance of everything that happened, they did very well.
A little more composure from Fisayo Dele-Bashiru would have put Wednesday equal after half an hour or so.
On nights such as these, little moments like that are going to happen. It’s been a very promising couple of games for the Owlets.
Five on the bench?
There was panic on the streets on London as the Owls team was announced. Well, across social media anyway.
Five on the bench? With the news from West Ham and Leyton Orient this week ringing in ears there seemed to be fears of an all-sweeping Covid outbreak from some quarters. Thankfully, there is nothing of the sort.
With one eye firmly on the test of Bristol City on Sunday, the bulk of the squad’s senior players were rested at home and didn’t travel – with many of them given the day off training altogether yesterday.
It meant they travelled with 18, and with Korede Adedoyin’s paperwork slow to complete and Alex Hunt picking up a minor knock in training earlier in the afternoon, there were only five to stick on the subs bench.
A season’s first
Let’s be honest, if someone had said that Wednesday were going to play 389 minutes of competitive football before conceding this season – that’s including added time, maths fans – you’d be mad not to take it.
There was a little frustration about how it came about, how it seemed to fall all too easy for Aboubakar Kamara in the Owls box, but with two youngsters in the back three, up against a needle-threading attacking outfit including Anthony Knockaert, Neeskens Kebano and co, it was always going to be a tough ask.
What was more notable was the Wednesday response.
Owls sides last year would have greased the wheels of the floodgates, curled into a ball and taken a kicking. It’s been said before, but there’s a much-improved mentality to this lot. And if Fisayo Dele-Bashiru had finished his very good chance on 25 minutes, it would have been deserved.
And that’s all she wrote..
The Carabao Cup dream over for another year, or a midweek nuisance eradicated? Whichever boat you’re floating in, you have to say that there have been swathes of positives to take from the three matches this year.
The debuts we’ve covered, but if you think back to Matt Penney’s half-hour wake-up at Walsall, to Elias Kachunga’s first Owls goal at Rochdale and all in between, you’d have to say Monk’s side have taken plenty of positives from the competition this time out.
That hasn’t always been the case. Keep the Carabao on ice, the road to Wembley goes again in the FA Cup. Maybe.
Fulham: Rodák, Odoi, Hector, Ream, Robinson, Onomah (Seri, 61’), Johansen, Knockaert (Carvalho, 78’), De Cordova-Reid, Kebano, Kamara (Francois, 71')
Subs unused: Cavaleiro, Le Marchand, Bryan, Fabri
Sheffield Wednesday: Wildsmith, Brennan, Shaw, Börner, Palmer (Penney, 71'), Dele-Bashiru, Pelupessy, Waldock (Rhodes, 79'), Odubajo, Reach, Kachunga (Hagan 82')
Subs unused: Dawson, Iorfa, Hagan