Sheffield Wednesday v Birmingham City – Match Report

Here is a report on Tuesday’s match by Nat Peters who went up to Sheffield to watch it.

I went to Hillsborough optimistic that we could get some sort of result. Granted, Sheffield Wednesday would still be on the crest of a promotion wave as it were, but on paper we have a superior group of players and our record vs. Wednesday is very good when we’ve played them in recent years. There was also the anticipation of going to one of the few football grounds in the upper half of the Football League which actually looks how a football ground should look and the fact that Blues took a 2,000 strong following would only add to it.

The 4-5-1 that Lee Clark picked to start to me seemed quite clever before the game. Hillsborough has a wide pitch, the three in the centre (Ambrose, Mullins, Elliott) are probably as whetted to this division as anyone. Yet we started badly. From us giving the ball away, Wednesday should’ve been ahead in only the third minute when their debutant signing from Barcelona Rodri passed the ball wide from close range when it was easier to score. We didn’t heed the warning, continued to be sloppy, and were lucky that a Jermaine Johnson run past Spector and a woefully lethargic Hayden Mullins tackle ended with Johnson himself firing well wide. Chris Burke was the only real bright spot of the opening stages for us, and his good work down the right forced a free-kick from which Steven Caldwell made the Wednesday ‘Keeper make a good save at his near post. Alas, on fifteen minutes a Wednesday corner found it’s way to to Semedo out wide, and a hopeful ball in was completely fumbled by Jack Butland straight to the head of Wednesday’s left-back Reda Johnson in the six-yard box who made it 1-0. From being England’s (albeit temporary) Number One to this, Butland will hopefully have put off any scout of any big club watching him with that error.

Even then, Blues remained sloppy, the ball being given away time and again. Our back four continually getting pulled apart like warm bread, Davies in particular having a torrid time against Chris O’Grady. The aforementioned Jermaine Johnson’s frightfully quick running with the ball from midfield was causing us no end of problems, and in total contrast with Blues’ pedestrianism, as shown when Spector misplaced a five yard pass in Wednesday’s half. The ball was sprayed to Rodri on the left-hand side of the box who got a shot past Caldwell and below Butland. 2-0. Half-time didn’t come quickly enough.

Half time saw the ineffective Elliott replaced by Nikola Zigic and a change from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2. Blues started brighter, Marlon King having two half-chances tipped over the bar by Chris Kirkland. Chris Burke would’ve felt he could’ve done better when through one-on-one after flashing a shot across the face of goal just before the hour mark. However, the game then seemed to meander into a midfield battle, Blues failing to convert their greater grip of possession into any real clear cut chance. The Blues fans however, we’re nowhere near as docile, the strong following blasting out a rendition of ‘Keep Right On’ as loud as any I’ve heard away from home in a fair old while, amongst other songs. A hope sprang in me at that point that Lee Clark and any other newcomer this Summer will have seen the size of our following on a Tuesday night and it’s stoicism in the face of impending defeat and realise that we aren’t a tin-pot, run of the mill outfit.

It seemed to inspire the players. Two decent looking penalty shouts were turned down in the space of a minute for alleged infringements on Zigic and David Murphy respectively, leading to Zigic hilariously squaring up to a referee about half his size. Then just as all hope of a comeback seemed lost, a Redmond cross travelled past everyone until it was tapped into the net by Zig at the back post. 2-1. For the next ten minutes, Blues huffed and huffed and puffed and puffed but did no real damage. If anything Wednesday looked like extending their lead, firstly when Michail Antonio was through on goal, running straight through a Blues defence so widely stretched that two-hundred Susan Boyles could’ve waddled through at once, and would’ve scored but for a fantastic Caldwell last ditch tackle. Then Antonio completely skinned a derisory Curtis Davies tackle and cut inside from the left hand touchline to fire straight across Butland’s goal, fortunately going just wide. Davies’ miserable was complete on eighty-nine minutes when he missed an easy interception letting Wednesday’s man of the match Jermaine Johnson through for a deserved goal. 3-1, game over, and a goal that summed up Blues’ and Davies’ evening in particular. In the fourth minute of stoppage time, Burke did good work down the right, won a penalty swiftly converted by King, which was swiftly followed by the full-time whistle. 3-2, but too little, too late.

Blues will now be hoping that the next two games at Watford and at home to Peterborough bear more fruit than the first two have, particularly as we have a very tricky looking September coming up. To get more points though, Blues will have to show more purpose and urgency going forward, and will just need to totally sort it out defensively; Davies and Caldwell, the two rocks on which last season’s relatively successful season was built have turned into a footballing colinder, leaking chances left, right and centre.

Ratings

Jack Butland [4]: Totally at fault for the first goal, and could’ve done better for the second.

Jonathan Spector [5]: Got caught a lot in the first half and gave the ball away in the run up to the second goal. Much improved in the second period.

Curtis Davies [3]: Suffered a torrid evening, seemed as if his mind was elsewhere. If it wasn’t, he was just plain crap.

Steven Caldwell {Captain} [5]: A couple of good last ditch tackles blighted by the fact he was, like the Charlton game, continually caught out by the pace and movement of Wednesday’s forward players.

David Murphy [6]: Solid enough, not quite playing like the talisman he semi-regularly became last season.

Chris Burke [7]: The only Blues player who showed any guile or any will to run at the Wednesday defenders like their players were running at ours.

Wade Elliott [3]: Total non-entity.

Hayden Mullins [5]: A poor first half where he couldn’t pass water followed by a better second. The jury is out on him though.

Darren Ambrose [5]: Probably Blues’ best player in the first half, the only one who really had any vision when passing the ball and had a couple of decent long-range efforts which weren’t too far off the target. Invisible after half-time though.

Nathan Redmond [6]: Probably didn’t trouble the Wednesday Right-Back as much as he could’ve, but put in a fantastic cross for Zigic’s goal.

Marlon King [6]: Tried his best on the limited service that he had. Got much more into the game in the second half.

Nikola Zigic (Sub for Elliott) [7]: Blues’s star man. Seemed to really take the game to Wednesday like he did when brought on vs. Charlton. No-one likes his physical presence one jot.

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2 Comments on Sheffield Wednesday v Birmingham City – Match Report

  1. Your allusion to a footballing collinder Nat was my unfortunate impression on saturday too. As for Davies , his mind is elsewhere , for sure , he was woefull against Charlton, he wants away . Early days yet , but lots of shortcomings glaringly exposed already.I’ll give it a couple more games and then I’ll let rip.

  2. Davies, so solid last season seems wanting out, and his negativity probably infecting the rest. Last two seasons it was striker trouble, then midfield . Now it’s defence, and it’s potentially more serious.

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