Sheff Wed 3-2 Millwall

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Me and MrsB missed the win at Peterborough away so this was our first away trip of the new season and we had Del & Lin for company as we set off in the Bonemobile to visit Sheffield Wednesday. I am not a great lover of Sheffield; it is a dank, miserable place with plenty to be dank and miserable about.

In recent years we have travelled up to Brammall Lane to see us play United so at least this was a change from the normal, where locals all wear red and white stripe tops and speak with what appears to be a bag of ball bearings in their gobs.

Well obviously, the only fucking difference at Wednesday’s neck of the woods is that they all wear blue and white striped tops and speak the same strangulated language as their red and white cousins (or brothers/sisters etc).

It was a stroke of luck that we just got news of the M25 tail back before we reached it so we went up the M11 and crossed country further up north and made it in good time but I made a bit of a schoolboy error in using the big car park which meant a bit of a wait after the game to get away.
Hillsborough; It is a lovely old ground, to be fair and although it boasts none of the modern features of some of the places we go to, it had a feel of a football ground, not a “stadium”. Yes, the poles holding the roof up are an eyesore and can spoil the view, but the layout is proper old fashion architectural nonsense on a grand scale.

Some of you, probably none of you, actually, may still be pondering why they are called Sheffield Wednesday? Well obviously it is to do with the day of the week but they started life as a club and called themselves “The Wednesday” because that is the day they played their matches on. Football was only a means to an end to keep the team fit during the winter months and naturally the football soon eclipsed the and after Saturday’s result I wish they had stuck to leather on willow…

I can accept a defeat on occasion if we really weren’t at the races or it is patently obvious that the team we are playing is superior to our boys but sneaky injury time winners leave a lot to be desired.

I will blame Jackett for this result and I won’t be swayed otherwise. If 1600 odd (mainly drunk) Millwall fans can see what is happening then why our favourite manager didn’t, who can say?

When the game started, the formation looked slightly strange to me but it soon became obvious that we were playing a sort of 4-1-2-1-2, the 4 being Dunne, Lowry, Osbourne and Malone, the 1 at the back of the diamond shape was Wright, the 2 in the middle were Trotter and Abdou which left Henry at the top in a central role. Henderson and Keogh formed the strike pairing. Maik Taylor was again in goal and I reckon the only way Forde might get a game is if the old codger gets injured.

Referee Russell got the game going and although there were over 24,500 in the stadium, the home fans were strangely subdued and quiet. It might have been because we were quick out the blocks and dominated early proceedings. James henry, relishing his more central role was causing problems and he unleashed a powerful shot that whistled just over the owls bar.

Henderson was next up as he found space in the area but Llera blocked his shot just as he was releasing the trigger. We were playing some neat, tidy football and were giving Wednesday a bit of a run a round but alarm bells should have been ringing when Johnson broke from just inside our half and our defence just back off him as he cantered across the outside of the box and hit a shot that thankfully missed by some distance, but unfortunately for us he repeated the move on the 20 minute mark and this time he hit the target with aplomb and Taylor’s futile dive was all we offered in the way of defending but the ball struck the back of the net for 1-0 to the home side.

The rain was now thundering down on top of the stands and we seemed to adapt to the conditions quite well and we really should have got an equaliser after some decent football saw the ball fall the Osbourne who, with the goal gaping at his mercy, had neither the skill or composure to volley the ball home, instead firing it high, wide and handsome over the bar into the grinning faces of the relieved Wednesday fans behind the Kop end.

We kept up the pressure though and when Abdou got himself a freebie after a Wednesday player slipped on the ball out hopes rose that the midfielder might at last score another goal but his daisy cutter of a shot was blocked and then hoofed clear by an overworked Sheffield defence.
Our patience though was finally rewarded soon after this when we put together a delicious move when Dunne slid the ball down the right hand touchline to an eager Keogh who raced forward and pulled the ball back to the incoming Henry who clipped an unstoppable shot past the despairing dive of Kirkland in the Owls goal. 1-1. Much more like it.

This galvanised the home side and they tried to get back into the game, Taylor making a decent save form a McCabe effort that saw a mini procession of Sheffield corners, all to no avail though as we dealt comfortably with them.

Henry was still buzzing after his goal and when he picked the ball up in the centre of midfield he moved menacingly forward and he slid a ball through to Keogh who just couldn’t get it but the ball was not meant for him as henry had spotted Trotter making a run on the Wednesday defences blind side and the big midfielder casually clipped the ball over the stricken Kirkland for Millwall’s second goal of the game. 1-2. Perfect football.

The lads went in at the break soaking wet but with our cheers ringing in their ears. A very good first half indeed.

The second half and at 2-1 we definitely fancied our chances but Wednesday came out the blocks and never really let up. A strong second half performance saw us continually on the back foot and we looked more and more shakier in defence as the game went on. The home crowd finally found their voice, calling for penalties and free kicks at every challenge we made.

Taylor got lucky with a stinging shot from Johnson as the ball hit him in the chest but he recovered well to claim the loose ball. It was a bit too much like one way traffic to be honest and just before the 70 minute mark the inevitable equaliser came. It was messy and sloppy and bit of a defensive comedy of errors but with the ball pinging off the post then Llera having two bites of the cherry to get the ball into the net we really should not have conceded, but the ball went in and the score was now 2-2.

We were looking ragged and Jackett made a change. He took off Wright and sent on the mystery man Thierry Racon who almost made a perfect start when he won the ball in midfield and slipped a pass to Henry who tried to add to his own tally instead of squaring to the unmarked Keogh and the ball ended up going marginally wide of the target.

With the clock ticking down we saw Shittu getting stripped for action which seemed the plausible thing to do with the home side now in dominant mode we needed to stem the tide and block the increasingly ragged looking central defence but to our astonishment the big man did a few stretches and then got told to put his track suit back on, very strange indeed.

And of course, we paid the inevitable price for this. Deep into injury time after giving away yet another needless free kick just outside the area, the ball was pumped in, we failed to deal with it and again Llera was on hand to poke the ball home for 3-2.

All the effort and commitment of the first half was seemingly undone by some very poor tactical nous and some very poor defending.
The final whistle went soon after and as dejected as we felt, the look on the player’s faces at least showed that they felt the same. It was a game we could of and should of won, or even drawn but to lose it the way we did was quite a bitter pill to swallow.

Next up we have Middlesbrough at home to deal with so we better get it right against them this time round…

"If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?". - (The Merchant of Venice Act III, Scene I).
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    Excellent as always FairWeather Fan.