Scout File: Sheffield Wednesday (A)

Credit Graham Burrell

I think most fans have been dreading our visit to Hillsborough, and Sheffield Wednesday’s recent bad form makes that trip even more dangerous, writes Tom Morton.

Sheffield is becoming my annual away day. For no other reason than my brother lives in the city so it’s a family outing. It’s not the most enjoyable visit – with a terrible (and sometimes slightly scary) away end and always the threat of after-match trouble. Still, it will be an excuse for a pub lunch and hopefully some slight promise of a result.

That result is a lot more “up in the air” than it was a few weeks ago. One thing we have going for our performance this season is pulling out great performances against the very best teams. In mid-October, we took seven of nine points from Ipswich, Sheffield, and Barnsley. Indeed I think our second-half home performance against Sheffield was probably one of the best of the season.


Credit Graham Burrell

However, all is up in the air. We’re up to three losses in a row and have picked up just four points in March. We’re suffering from injuries in defence (one of the success areas this season) and still struggling to find the net.

The Owls are also on a bad run. It must be a March thing. Despite having not lost since early October, they’ve recently racked up two including away to all-but-relegated Forest Green. In their last game, on Wednesday night against Cheltenham, they had to pull back two goals to earn the draw.

Here’s the problem for us. Sheffield are a team who have been on track for automatic promotion for a while. But today they are one loss away from making it hard for themselves and giving Ipswich the chance to close the gap to just one point. So obviously we’re all expecting them to come out of the traps hard and thrash us – it’s not personal, just something they need to do.

There’s no real point in comparing stats. The Owls are fielding a championship team. At home, they are scoring at a rate of 2.21 goals per game and conceding way less than one at the same rate. Despite their recent run of bad form, most of it has been away. They’ve only lost once at home, way back in September.


Sheff Weds 22/23 A

In terms of players, they’ve had a pretty stable squad all season since a major clear-out and rework over the summer period (they released fourteen players in total). In January there was no business to report other than bringing in Aden Flint, with Championship experience, to bolster their defence. 

Top scorers include Josh Windass (11), Michael Smith (11), and Lee Gregory (9). All three are standout attacking players with plenty of Championship experience. In fact, you could say this about most of their squad. It has a lot of depth.


Credit Graham Burrell

So how do we survive today? Firstly we need to re-discover our defensive strength. Tough with so many injuries – but our resilience at the back is what holds us up against these top teams. In addition, we need to take chances as they come. The Owls are actually a team that will let you play, rather than fully dominating possession, so we need to take advantage of that.

Finally, of course, we need some luck. They hammered Cheltenham on Wednesday with twenty-three shots and eleven corners. Holding tight against crosses and set pieces will set us up well.

Our form against Sheffield has been decent, actually, with two draws and a win over the last season and a half. Could that come crashing to a stop today? I hope not, this would be a fab time to bring back some form and deliver a great result that would all but leave us safe this year.