Sheffield Wednesday host Stevenage on Tuesday evening knowing that another defeat would be a costly blow in their bid for automatic promotion from League One.
Although the Owls currently sit in 2nd place in the table city rivals Sheffield United are just a point behind with two games in hand and Gary Megson’s side have a significantly inferior goal difference to the teams around them.
Saturday’s defeat at Exeter came on the back of some rather unconvincing recent displays and it appears that the Owls cautious approach to games is not getting the desired results or performances. Wednesday have enjoyed more than their fair share of possession in most matches of late but whilst their rivals are winning by comfortable score-lines the Owls are failing to convert their control of the play into clear cut chances.
Conceding late goals recently against the likes of Walsall, Hartlepool and Exeter have cost the Owls valuable points and whilst having enough of the ball against promotion rivals Charlton and Mk Dons the team have lacked the attacking impetus to create clear cut chances.
Perhaps the best performance since the turn of the year came in the 1st half against Tranmere when the Owls created enough chances to be out of sight by half-time. The 3-1 win at Scunthorpe was also fairly convincing and in both games the significant feature of the Owls line-up was that they fielded a fairly attacking side. In these two matches Wednesday played with two wide midfielders and one attacking midfielder alongside a more defensive player in the centre of the park and created plenty of scoring chances as a result.
In the games in which the Owls have slipped up in of late they have fielded a far more defensive set up. At times playing with a natural defender in a wide midfield position and also playing two holding midfielders. Lewis Buxton can cross a good ball but is far more effective when asked to do so in getting forward from right-back as he doesn’t have the natural attacking mentality of a wide midfielder. New loan signing John Bostock clearly has technical ability but looks a little lost in a wide role and would be far more effective if employed in the middle. Megson however has chosen to go with Prutton alongside Semedo in recent matches and while they have both been effective in doing what they are good at neither offer enough going forward to unlock the opposition with creativity or offer a goal threat themselves.
The strikers have come in for some criticism of late but it is not as if they are missing chances left, right and centre, they are simply not getting chances due to a lack of creativity. If the Owls are to harbour ambitions of automatic promotion then surely they would be better off trying to take the game to the opposition and give them a regular threat to worry about. Play either Bostock or lines in a creative central role and give Mike Jones another chance out wide with two strikers to aim for and a more balanced midfield. He was a proven asset for Bury at this level before moving to Hillsborough and so shouldn’t just be judged on two below par performances, one which was against the league leaders when he had hardly trained alongside his new team mates.
All the teams at the top will drop points somewhere along the line as has already been the case but if Wednesday are aiming to be in the top two come the end of the season or the top six at worse then surely the best way is to attack teams and give it a real go rather than be left wondering what might have been as a result of dropping points late on and finishing games in a nervous fashion time after time.