“Up until then..” Sheffield Wednesday manager Darren Moore makes claim on Peterborough United pace pair

Up until the third goal in Sheffield Wednesday’s humiliating 4-0 play-off defeat at Peterborough United on Friday evening, the Owls had kept them quiet.
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That’s the view of Wednesday manager Darren Moore, who questioned on why his side had failed to deal with the pace of Posh wide pair Kwame Poku and Ephrom Mason-Clark.

With some exceptions, it has become the modus operandi of the Owls boss to defend his players even after their lowest of lows in recent months. That’s his prerogative and it’s not an unusual one for football coaches to take, even if some would argue it piles more pressure on his own considerable shoulders.

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His response to questions of the danger of Poku and Mason-Clark – on a night the league’s top goalscorer Jonson Clarke-Harris was kept at arm’s length from guilt-edged shooting opportunities at least – was to suggest that Wednesday had dealt handily with the pace of their ascendent rivals until Poku’s 50th-minute goal.

Owls boss Darren Moore   Pic Steve EllisOwls boss Darren Moore   Pic Steve Ellis
Owls boss Darren Moore Pic Steve Ellis

Only when the game became stretched, he argued, did their wide players cause a major threat.

While the balance of play was relatively even if not in the Owls’ favour in the first half, to hint at a wide man shut out early doors would go against the data, which shows the pair had completed more dribbles and taken on more shots up to that point.

“I thought for a lot of it, we dealt with them,” Moore remarked. “Dom, Palms, they have speed, Marvin has speed to deal with them. I thought we dealt with them.

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“You look back at apart from the two goals they had in the first half, there wasn’t much from them. The third goal got away from us and it stretched the game.

“All of a sudden from there you’re talking and eulogising about them because they have the space. Up until then, you’re analysing the game and I didn’t see them causing much problems. When the third goal comes the game opens up and it was then that they looked more effective than they did in the first half.”

The bigger question perhaps raised by Moore’s answer is what happens this week. The game will be stretched from the off, won’t it?

Wednesday have no option but to step out and throw the kitchen sink, bath and bidet at Peterborough on Thursday evening, leaving the high possibility of space for the likes of Poku and Mason-Clark to operate in.

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Even one Peterborough goal on the night would leave Wednesday needing to score five to take things to extra time. It’s something they have achieved at S6 three times this season, in fairness. But in recent times it’s fair to say the verve and colour of their attack has been a little dulled.

There’s no argument that this is a monumentally difficult task – a second leg turnaround would make history as the greatest in EFL history.

But such was their collective failure at London Road, scoring four at Hillsborough on Thursday evening will only be enough to force things on if they shut out the other end.

A fourth clean sheet in 15 is a major part of a near-impossible equation.