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Sheffield Wednesday 1 Watford 4 (27/11/2012) 28/11/2012

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

Five thunks from another big away win in Yorkshire

1- 3:30 a more than reasonable time to leave North Bedfordshire for Sheffield.  Some might say excessively cautious, but only those who don’t appreciate the added value of a bit of food and a swift drink to set oneself up for the evening’s entertainment.  As it turned out a good hour and a half was spent queuing near Leicester.  Radio and motorway signs advised of livestock on the carriageway;  subsequent information revealed the miscreant to be a lone pig making a stand on the embankment next to Leicester Forest East Services (the swine!  ham-fisted attempts to apprehend him, etc etc). As a consequence we stumbled breathlessly into the cavernous away end warm from running, prickled by the cold, shortly after Fernando Forestieri’s equaliser – having missed a quarter of the game, devoting a thunk to the episode seemed reasonable.  It’s slightly unfair to blame the pig for our late arrival of course, I’m sure he had a worse night than we did, but I shall enjoy my next bacon sandwich.

2- As ever, late arrival at a game provoked a complex mixture of emotions.  Relief and exhaustion certainly, and hunger.  And need for the loo.  But also a perhaps unreasonable resentment that the whole thing started without you…  and a disorientation borne of the usual routine being thrown up into the air.  This wasn’t helped by a similarly disjointed offering in front of us;  having come from behind and being in by far the better form we were understandably the more relaxed, the more composed, but the game was nonetheless a fairly even contest at this stage.  The home side closed us down a long way up the pitch resulting in some nervous moments in front of us as Hoban, Hall and Ekstrand cut it rather fine when passing around in the wake of attention from loan duo Sidibe and Bothroyd.  We perhaps had a let-off with the penalty appeal… Bothroyd cut in from the right, looked for the penalty by shifting his body in front of Pudil but the Czech was duped, fouled his opponent, and whilst cover was arriving and the attack came at an angle a less generous ref might have shown a different card.  As it was, Lines’ penalty was weak, Almunia saved well, and it was significant that none of the dejected Owls whose opinions we enjoyed on the way out on BBC Radio Sheffield’s phone in (number of mentions of “Watford”: zero, references to “the likes of that”: one) criticised the official’s decision…

3- …because by then any resentment was blown into irrelevance by Wednesday’s truly lamentable, stinking second half performance.  Even in the first half, and certainly with the scores still level in the second, there was an utter lack of urgency on the part of the home side.  No leadership, certainly, and no fight;  as the half went on Wednesday’s forwards were isolated, their midfield sending passes comically into the stand… and attempts on goal were typified by the final shot of the game:  Antonio made rare positive run down the left, beat his man and laid the ball back to the edge of the area for the oncoming forward to clout the ball high and wide.  Defensively it was no better;  Martin Taylor’s half-time introduction brought none of the calm authority that we remember from Vicarage Road… indeed quite the opposite, as all three second half goals were scored under the minimum of opposition attention.  It’s tempting to read too much into an isolated awful performance – I’ve only seen Wednesday the once, and it’s worth remembering that neither this monstrosity, or this one, or this one, or – my personal favourite – the grotesque defeat at home to Hull City under Colin Lee occurred during a relegation season.  You can get away with the odd stinker, you just need to be less rubbish than three other teams in the final reckoning.  But you fear for Wednesday on this evidence.

4- Which isn’t to devalue our own contribution.  We’ve played bad, or struggling, or nervous teams before and not dispatched them as ruthlessly as this.  Alex Geijo’s reward for a thoroughly inspiring, hardworking  and often selfless performance was for the defenders who outnumbered him to give him plenty of space to dispatch Yeates’ right wing free kick with a textbook downward header… more fitting still would have been for his earlier quite brilliant near post header to have entered the goal at the foot of the post, but an equally magnificent glove from Kirkland kept it out.  Troy Deeney – who, as was pointed out, looks far bulkier than last season to no obvious detriment whatsoever – trotted on to replace the irrepressible Forestieri and barely broke stride before getting on the end of another very deep Yeates free kick, bringing it down with his first touch and rifling home his fourth in consecutive games with his second.  Absolutely criminal defending again, but a finish of awesome confidence nonetheless – at this point the home stands emptied echoing another memorable midweek trip to Sheffield and provoking chants of “is there a fire drill?” from the unsympathetic travelling ‘Orns.  Yeates’ goal, after two assists, the pick of the bunch… Cassetti in acres of space crossed for Deeney to cushion back to Yeates to drive home from twenty yards on the half-volley.  Great finish, rendered easier by the lack of marking.  Devastating stuff then, and impressive having overcome the early setback and some iffy moments in the first half…

5-…and whilst I’m echoing an earlier closing thunk, all the more remarkable given that we were without our captain, our most creative midfielder, our most reliable defender, and left our leading scorer on the bench throughout.  Plus Bia, Nosworthy, Neuton…  all of which could be summarised by “hey, we’ve got a big squad”.  But such quality… to the extent that the unexpected arrival of Carl Dickinson, who by the end of last season was a just about passable left back, looked a little incongruous albeit he did nothing wrong in his few minutes of action.  If any clearer indication were needed that this is a side capable of great things in this division… it’s been a long time since we were able to discard a left back of any competence at all.  You.  Orns.



1. Kris - 28/11/2012

I wonder what the general opinion is concerning Yeates. Often the target for the boo-boys he seems to have flourished under Zola and is already making a strong claim for the winner of your Helping Hands Award (I know – but it should be!) at the end of the season.

I see some people blame Zola for shuffling the first eleven, but I feel he is making the most of our squad size. Your thunk 5 is spot on and compared to other squads with less strength in depth, I feel the rotation by Zola has two advantages. It helps integrate more players into the squad while also minimising the risk of injuries derived from playing too often.

It is a huge luxury for us right now that we are can cope with injuries to key players without losing too much momentum – though I see satursday’s draw as a result of the only negative from Zola’s rotation – that lack of understanding between players will result in opportunities for the opposition more often than if we were playing the same players all the time. In my book – the good outweighs the bad by a mile.

Matt Rowson - 28/11/2012

wouldn’t disagree with any of that although without having been at Blackpool, that midfield lacked a bit of bite (Chalobah, Battocchio, Yeates). Needs a Hogg or a Eustace. And that was nothing to do with rotation.

Yeates… for me a useful member of the squad now, although I know at least one reader will still disagree…

Prawn - 28/11/2012

Yeates — Could he be the Ross Jenkins I of 2012?

2. Matt Kelly - 28/11/2012

hmmm, all good points but where’s my scarf?:)

Matt Rowson - 28/11/2012

Tsk. Patience.

3. JohnF - 28/11/2012

We are in the fortunate position that Zola is under no pressure for results and can assess all of the players in his squad under match conditions. That will be very important when deciding who is to go and who is to stay in January and at the end of the season. The squad will be smaller next season but he seems to be making the most of it. Although we as fans want to win every game, it isn’t going to happen anyway, so let’s relax and enjoy te ride. A stylish win at home on Saturday would be nice and encourage attendances.

4. Lutondown - 28/11/2012

Good summary. I’m warming to Yeates, if he could just drop the shooting when not on and pass it someone who is, he really could be useful. Cracking goal and two good assists. Geijo, looks tasty!
A good nights work, a poxy journey up! Worth it in the end

5. kendean - 28/11/2012

1 of 5 who were in the car in the leppings lane end, came back to find all critisising Bothroyd, and felt SWFC poor play in the 2nd made us look even better than we were. I admitted that it was a penalty but thought some one in the crowd had a gun as he went down for a long time for a shove in the back. Doing well agaist Yorkshire teams at the moment hope it continues against Barnsley

Matt Rowson - 28/11/2012

Lots of Bothroyd bashing on the radio too… Thought he was the least of their problems. Agree he stayed down a long time, didn’t help the penalty taker. Wednesday’s awfulness obviously did make us look good but as above we’ve played bad teams in the past and not dicked them. Element of big team syndrome is to imagine that each game is all about them, your mates weren’t the only ones.

kendean - 28/11/2012

family unfortunatly

6. Hunsbury Hornet - 28/11/2012

Although having no sympathy at all for a very poor Owls team, I think mention must be made of the fantastic stadium they have – worthy of premiership football, although that won’t happen for a while. After having been at Blackpool on Sat, and sat in their freezing stand with a pillar in front of me (I did move), I found Hillsborough very impressive indeed. Hopefully, we’ll be playing on more grounds like in the not so distant future.

Matt Kelly - 29/11/2012

Hunsbury – I’m not sure we’re in any posiition to knock other clubs’ grounds (Kenilworth Allotments excepted). Although I’d happily take it, it’s looking increasingly credible that we will have the most embarrassing stadium in European top-flight football next season. And Scotland doesn’t count.

7. hornetboy84 - 28/11/2012

Let’s face it . The ‘Orns are going up! Di Natale on loan anyone?

8. Adam (A Watford Blog) - 29/11/2012

Glad to see you made it there Matt. For a while when I got there I thought there was only gonna be about 6 of us! Couldn’t agree more on the points about Wednesday, I can’t recall seeing a team as poor as that in quite a while.

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