Sheffield Wednesday: Six things we learned after Owls’ 1-0 win over Blackburn Rovers

Steven Fletcher
Steven Fletcher

Steven Fletcher bagged his 100th career league goal to help the Owls earn their first away win in almost six months last night.

Here are six things The Star’s Wednesday writer Dom Howson learned following the team’s fourth victory in their last five Championship outings:

1) Fletcher is a difficult man to keep quiet

The forward was a constant nuisance, particularly in the first half. He was a real focal point for the Owls and earned his slice of luck for the goal as it did take a wicked deflection before finding the left-hand corner of Jason Steele’s net.

Not every forward would have had a pop but Fletcher did and it paid off big time as he reached his special milestone.

His industry, clever hold up play and goal-scoring prowess make him a big asset to Wednesday and he has so far proven to be their best summer business.

Barry Bannan

Barry Bannan

2) Barry Bannan delivered a midfield masterclass

There was some doubt over whether Bannan would play. He required a late fitness test on the foot injury he sustained against Nottingham Forest last weekend but the former Aston Villa trainee’s performance was exceptional.

Boss Carlos Carvalhal asked him to do a job on the left wing and he produced arguably his best display of the campaign.

His passing was sharp and crisp and he drove Wednesday on. On and off the ball, Bannan excelled.

David Jones

David Jones

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3) The midfield had a good balance

Two of the three changes Carvalhal made to his starting line-up were in midfield. He gave run-outs to Will Buckley and David Jones and their fresh legs and energy definitely benefited Wednesday.

Buckley showed glimpses of his quality in the final third but Jones was more influential. He broke up play superbly and kept things ticking over nicely in the midfield engine room.

Keiren Westwood

Keiren Westwood

Jones provided an extra layer of protection to the back four which is required on the road as there are times when you have to soak up lots of pressure. He dovetailed neatly with Kieran Lee and Bannan.

4) Wednesday still have to brush up on their finishing

The story of the Owls’ campaign so far has been the team’s inability to take their chances. Too many opportunities are going begging and it could cost them in the long-term.

Wednesday could have been out of sight at Ewood Park had Fletcher, Liam Palmer, Buckley and Lee made the most of their opportunities either side of half-time. Better sides than Blackburn would have punished the Owls.

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5) Defensively the Owls were solid as a unit

Kieran Lee

Kieran Lee

I think to some extent Blackburn boss Owen Coyle was surprised by Wednesday’s tactics. “Sheffield Wednesday paid us a huge amount of respect by coming and sitting everybody behind the ball and playing on the counter attack,” he said.

The Owls weren’t negative but slightly tweaked their style of play. Fletcher’s goal put them in command so for once they didn’t have to make all the running. The onus was on Blackburn, the hosts, to take the game to them.

Even when Rovers upped the ante late on, Wednesday’s defence stood firm and were nice and compact. As Carvalhal would say, they effectively closed their “doors and windows” to secure a third clean sheet.

6) Injured players are on the way back

The Owls are in good form heading into Saturday’s tussle with promotion hopefuls Brighton and Hove Albion and their squad will only get stronger over the coming weeks.

There are a number of players who remain in the treatment room. Daniel Pudil could be pressing for a first-team recall this weekend as long as he shakes off a thigh problem.

Lucas Joao and Marco Matias will give Carvalhal more forward options when they return to action while Urby Emanuelson is also slowly building up his match fitness after moving to Hillsborough on a free transfer earlier this month.

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