Young Owls produce mature display to secure FA Cup progress

Last updated : 10 January 2021 By C. Morris

Wednesday win at Exeter

Sheffield Wednesday had to rely on a mix of young Owls and experienced heads on Saturday and the players did not let the club down as they progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup.

A COVID outbreak had left the club severely depleted in terms of players and staff with Andy Holdsworth leading the team in the absence of Neil Thompson and Lee Bullen and he was only able to name a 15-man squad for the FA Cup third round tie against Exeter City.

Wednesday gave a debut to young defender Ryan Galvin and the largely inexperienced Brennan and Shaw started at the heart of the defence. Alex Hunt started in midfield and Declan Eratt-Thompson was named among the substitutes for the first time.

Sensing the opportunity for a cup upset, the home side started well with Jay heading wide and bustling striker Bowman proving a handful for the youthful Owls defence.

Having survived the early scares, Wednesday grew into the contest and just before the half-hour they took the lead thanks to some quality play from their more experienced players. Bannan played a ball into the box for Reach who judged the flight well before hitting a low half-volley that fizzed past Ward in the home goal.

The remainder of the first half passed y without much goalmouth action but the Grecians started the second half in similar fashion to the way they started the first as they went in search of an equaliser. Ex-Owls defender Rory McArdle went closest, glancing on a corner, only to see his header saved by Wildsmith.

At the other end, Wednesday created chances on the break as they looked to pick off their hosts, Hunt blazed over the bar when well placed while both Reach and Bannan forced Ward into action.

The young Owls continued to play with resilience, protecting Wildsmith well and as the clock ticked into injury time the visitors made the result safe. Shaw embarked on a marauding run that took him into the penalty area and he squared for Paterson to apply a routine finish and round off a good day for Wednesday, who had previously never enjoyed an away win at Exeter.

The result puts Wednesday into the hat for the 4th round draw and they will also feature in the 5th round draw as both take place on Monday evening.