Embarrassing episode brushed under the carpet?

Last updated : 01 August 2011 By C. Morris

Despite the fact that Sheffield Wednesday have attempted to remove the match from memory there is no hiding from the fact that a Sheffield Wednesday representative side were beaten 14-0 at Alfreton Town on Sunday afternoon.

The Blue Square Conference Premier League side helped themselves to a 9-0 half-time lead before easing up to add just 5 more without reply in the second half and three players notched hat-tricks. As with previous warm-up games at Stocksbridge, Hallam FC and Sheffield FC, the match at Alfreton had been included on the www.swfc.co.uk official itinerary of pre-season fixtures but this has since been swiftly removed.  Unlike the other aforementioned games, a full match report from this one is unlikely.

Whilst Alfreton are a solid side in their own right, a 14-0 defeat for any senior side representing Sheffield Wednesday deserves some sort of recall and accountability. The phrase men against boys has perhaps never been more apt than in this instance but that does not fully excuse the performance. Wednesday fielded a team without any recognised 1st team squad members but the likes of Nathan Modest and Cecil Nyoni, who are on the verge of breaking into the 1st team ranks were included as were promising youngsters such as Sean Cuff and Matt Tumilty. They may be inexperienced but the academy team fielded by the Owls are supposed represent the best of the home grown talent that the club are able to produce, the nurturing of such players into first team prospects is the main way that the club can hope to save money on transfer fees by developing their own players.

The players and management of the academy team must take the brunt of the criticism but are not the only ones at fault. Previous Wednesday XI fixtures this summer have seen the likes of Mark Beevers, James O’Connor and Mark Reynolds interspersed with the youngsters. It was surprising to see that none of the 1st players that did not feature in the friendly with Stoke City at Hillsborough on Saturday were given a run out. Why was such a youthful, inexperienced team pitted against a conference side? If a late decision was made not to include many first team players in the match then perhaps the fixture should have been cancelled or postponed. The experience will have done nothing for the confidence of any of those involved and has simply caused embarrassment and ridicule.

This may be soon forgotten about once the season gets into full flow this weekend but there are clearly some underlying problems that need addressing at different levels of the club. It is hard to contemplate that a team representing Sheffield Wednesday lost to a conference side in such a manner that they conceded at an average rate of almost a goal every 6 minutes. Regardless of their age and level of experience this should not happen and the club should not have sanctioned such a miss-match if this was even a remote possibility.