Irvine's Owls Soar Again

Last updated : 20 January 2010 By Chris Morris

On-loan Stoke midfielder Tom Soares bagged his first goal for the Owls on Tuesday evening, sending Wednesday on their way to a 2-1 win at Blackpool and lifting them out of the Championship relegation zone as they picked up three points for the second time in four days.

Prior to new boss Alan Irvine’s arrival Wednesday had gone 12 games without a win and had only recorded 1 away win all season leaving them 4 points adrift of Championship safety.

The Owls had not previously recorded back to back victories this season, having suffered League Cup defeat at Port Vale sandwiched between league wins over Scunthorpe and Plymouth back in August. In addition to this lack of consistency Wednesday have suffered from travel sickness badly in recent seasons and had not previously won successive away fixtures since November 2008.

Irvine has managed to add grit and determination to the team and everyone looks comfortable with their role in the side. The line up has not changed dramatically – the new manager is still working with the same squad of players that hadn’t tasted victory since October prior to his arrival  but the shape is enabling the Owls to have more defensive solidity whilst also creating more chances when in possession.

The return of Michael Gray from illness and injury has certainly benefitted the team. What the former England full-back lacks in pace he more than makes up for in experience and provides composure and the ability to pick out the right option that is lacking when he is not in the side.

The major concern to come out of the win at Bloomfield Road was an injury to Jermaine Johnson. The quick-heeled Jamaican was a constant threat in the win at Barnsley, playing off of Marcus Tudgay in attack and he caused Blackpool similar problems in the first half on Tuesday before pulling up midway through the first half with an apparent hamstring problem.

However, although JJ had been an integral part of the way Irvine had set the team up to play in these two matches Wednesday were able to put his loss behind them with his replacement Leon Clarke effectively sealing the points with the Owls second goal.

Despite this great start to his tenure Irvine has urged caution as he looks to continue the Owls upturn in form. Wednesday now face home games against Peterborough and Plymouth with a trip to fellow strugglers Scunthorpe sandwiched in between. The two wins so far will undoubtedly bring new confidence and belief to the team but it may also add an air of expectancy to the supporters which could put pressure back onto the team in things don’t go to plan in the home games. Wednesday are currently on a run of 7 games without a win at Hillsborough, a streak which includes 6 defeats.