Under-strength Owls produce impressive defensive display
Sheffield Wednesday fought well for a 0-0 draw at Bramall Lane in the steel city derby on Friday evening. Despite going down to 10 men for the final half-hour Wednesday forced their hosts’ keeper into as many saves as Joe Wildsmith and never looked like losing.
The Owls, without virtually a full first team in the shape of Keiren Westwood, Jack Hunt, Tom Lees, Barry Bannan, Sam Hutchinson, Kieran Lee, Almen Abdi, Fernando Forestieri, Gary Hooper and Steven Fletcher, set up in a 3-5-2 formation.
Despite being unaccustomed to the shape new boss Jos Luhukay had drilled his side expertly for his first game in charge. The hosts, as expected started on the front foot but failed to create a decent chance in the first half with Joe Wildsmith not having a save to make. As the first 45 wore on, the visitors grew into the game with Ross Wallace prominent in midfield and Lucas Joao looking lively up front without ever testing Moore in the home goal.
Wednesday started the second half with more of a foothold and Daniel Pudil fired two shots wide from distance, the second of which had Moore diving at full stretch, happy to see it go past his far post. The home sides’ best chance came from an intuitive front post header from Donaldson which Wildsmith did well to tip over the bar. Wallace then forced Moore into a good reaction save from a low shot.
Midway through the second half Glenn Loovens picked up his second yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Donaldson in a wide area. The Owls captain sent off for what appeared to be 2 harsh bookings where his challenges were not reckless and didn’t prevent dangerous attacks.
From that point it looked like being backs to the wall for Wednesday but although they were forced to defend deeper the hosts still didn’t look like scoring. Clarke failed to connect properly with a headed chance from a free-kick and new signing Wilson shot straight at Wildsmith from distance. The Owls actually had more shots on target in the end and went close to winning it late on when Moore tipped Reach’s strike from the edge of the area over the bar. From the resulting corner Wallace forced Moore into another smart save.
With a heavily depleted squad and a poor run of result Owls fans went into the game without too many expectations but they can certainly come away pleased with the effort and application they got from their team and the way in which the new manager organised them.