Sheffield Wednesday came for a point and got one. But that’s not even the story.
All the good stuff yesterday, for me happened off the field and involved things that you’re not remotely interested in like managing to get to the ground in time for a couple of pints despite it being my son’s Parent’s Evening. All the bad stuff occurred when I was having the first of those pints and saw the team news on my mobile. Bruno. In midfield. Again. WTF?
I really shouldn’t have written this article for ANS praising Oscar. I seem to have jinxed him. How else can you explain Lua Lua and Ince – the two best players against Bolton – being dropped against Ipswich and Bruno playing in midfield? But at least I thought it might be a mistake that wouldn’t be repeated. Wrong. Lua Lua was back but there, in the midfield, was Bruno looking as lost as Jeremy Clarkson at a vegetarian feminist’s rally.
The return of Lua Lua changed the game plan to ‘give it to Lua Lua and see what he does’. Which was a shame as Sheffield Wednesday’s game plan was ‘mark Lua Lua out of the game and waste a lot of time’. The more they double teamed him the more we tried to give him the ball. The more they wasted time the more rushed and less composed our passing got. Oh dear.
Still we should have taken the lead when Ulloa sprang the offside trap to go clear before demonstrating the ball control and balance of Keef Richards before the drugs have kicked in.
What would really have put the seal on a disappointing first half would have been if Sheffield Wednesday scored. Just before the break the ball ended up on the East side of the North goal. It looked like it might have gone out for a goal kick but it was kept in by a fraction. With our defence expecting a goal kick and totally switched off Wednesday walked it through our penalty area before Matty Fryatt scored on the turn from 6 yards.
At half time my brother and I agreed the best change would be Buckley to come on for Bruno. Instead Buckley came on for Calderon but at least Bruno dropped back to right back. With twin pacy attackers supporting Ulloa surely we’d pull the deficit back? Sadly ten minutes in to the second half which, given the speed Wednesday were taking their dead balls at, was actually 30 seconds in play (ok I exaggerate – but not much) Ulloa went down under a seemingly innocuous challenge. As he was stretchered off a couple of bizarre substitutions took place where Oscar seemed to temporarily forget we had Barnes on the bench to replace him. A frustrating second half ensued where we looked like a Poyet team in our own defensive third and a Mickey Adams the Second team in the final attacking third. The ball was pinged round nicely between our defenders, then eventually whapped forwards hopefully.
And so it was that we were discussing how Keith Andrews is a good holding player but no Bridcutt (and he really isn’t – how we missed our creative water carrier last night) and how costly two defeats on the bounce would be, when up popped who else but Keith Andrews to score the equalizer as, for once, Wednesday switched off at the back and we decided to be clinical rather than wasteful or hopeful.
I don’t want to be rude to any Wednesday fan who happens to read this but even though we got a last minute equalizer it felt like two points dropped. Sheffield Wednesday must be the worst side to have visited the Amex yet this season – though I missed Millwall – and when the extent of your ambition is to waste time and complain about everything you deserve to get a thorough beating. That we didn’t says everything you need to know about our finishing, our injury list (which is getting worse rather than better) and about Oscar still getting to grips with his new squad’s capabilities.
If Ulloa is out for a protracted amount of time then our season is in a considerable amount of trouble. I’m not one of the Barnes Bashers (though he was what the Aussies call “pretty average” when he came on last night) but can our Ashley really be trusted to score, not get injured and not get suspended until we have something approaching a full squad back? I doubt it.