A Jordan Rhodes brace gave Sheffield Wednesday a 2 – 1 win away to Barnsley to give themselves a real chance of staying up. Carlton Morris pulled one back late on but it was not enough to spark a comeback as former red Darren Moore gets his first win in charge of the Owls against.
Ismael, very surprisingly, kept the same team that started away at Wycombe midweek after Mowatt had his red card rightfully overturned. The only change came on the bench as the injured Kane was replaced by Jasper Moon.
Barnsley started much the brighter and Dike was proving a threat from the off as he got down the flank straight away, his cross from the left was too powerful for Frieser and it was easily cleared.
The reds threatened again soon after when a Mowatt corner was flicked on by Dike but Sollbauer fired well over at the back post. Commentators and fans alike felt that it was an easy chance for Sollbauer and that he should have scored. However replays suggest to me that it was a difficult chance for the centre half and may have been different if someone like Woodrow had been on the end of it. But for a centre half, I would expect them to miss more often than score.
Dike again was proving to be a handful as he got down the right this time, his powerful cross was spilled by Wildsmith in the Wednesday goal but no one in red was there to take advantage and the ball was cleared.
Despite the good start by the home side it was Wednesday that had the best chance to go in front early on. Brad Collins came rushing out of his box as he so often does but this time he missed the ball as he tried to clear. It fell to Rhodes who fired wide from the edge of the area with the goal wide open. A huge let off for Barnsley and one you would expect a striker of Rhodes’ calibre to have scored.
Barnsley went back up the other end soon after and they did have the ball in the net but the ref ruled it out for a foul in the build-up. Mowatt whipped in a corner and the keeper dropped the ball unchallenged. Dike flicked towards goal and Woodrow poked it home but the ref awarded a free-kick for a foul on a Wednesday defender and not for any foul on the goalkeeper as most of the on looking press had assumed.
Barnsley then had a big shout for a penalty when Dike controlled in the box and seemed to be dragged down by Lees. The ref waved it away even though it looked a clear foul. So a nailed on penalty not given and perfectly could goal disallowed, after riding our luck quite a bit in this unbeaten run, you began to get the feeling that the luck had deserted on this occasion.
Tom Lees then almost gifted the hosts a lead when he sliced a clearance and Frieser tried to capitalise but Wildsmith rushed out to clear well.
With time ticking on at the end of the first half the away side grabbed an unexpected lead. A throw in was taken quickly to Bannan and he pinged in a great cross from the left into the area and Rhodes rose highest in the box to head home well.
A real blow for the home side who had started well for the first ten minutes or so but as the half had gone on the Owls had grown into the game and despite a few scares had defended well against the Barnsley attack.
Ismael was clearly not happy with the first half and he made a triple change at the break with Morris, Halme and Sibbick all coming on as he looked to kick some life into the home side. Morris was a certainty to come on. Let’s face it, Dike, Woodrow and Morris are our best three forwards but I’d be surprised to see all three start together as a bench of Frieser, Chaplin and Adeboyejo only looks any good for some fresh legs if you’re two goals to the good.
The Sibbick change was always going to happen as Wednesday had done well to get in behind our high line defence so more pace was needed there. Usually that isn’t a problem as Collins sweeps up well but he seems to have lost a bit confidence with that and as a result Wednesday seemed to cause us more problems than most.
Palmer was poor and needed replacing at half time but bringing Halme on in midfield was the wrong decision. He should only be brought on in the middle of the park if we are winning to see the game out, not when we are chasing. This was the time to move Styles in to midfield and give Oduor a chance at left wing back. Oduor is left footed and more attacking than Williams. Styles deserves a go in his favoured position after being excellent for the majority of the season playing out of position but a bit poor of late playing there.
His changes didn’t have the desired effect though as they fell two behind soon after the restart. The ball bounced awkwardly towards Styles who opted to control the ball rather than clear it and he was robbed of possession by Windass.
The Wednesday forward sprinted towards the box before squaring it to Rhodes who was free in the middle to tap home to double his and his sides tally. A mistake by Styles and a costly one at that.
The second goal seemed to kill all Barnsley momentum and they looked really flat and ordinary which is not what we have come to expect of them recently. The Owls were comfortable for most of the second half dealing with the Barnsley attack with ease. In fact it was a pretty flat performance from the reds throughout. Perhaps tiredness had started to creep in after such a sensational run played at such high tempo.
The away side nearly added a third as the game wore on when Rhodes peeled off his marker Helik as the big Pole slipped, his header found Windass who ran through but fired well wide.
With around ten minutes to go Barnsley gave themselves hope of a late comeback when sub Morris fired home. A Brittain throw was flicked on by Halme. The ball broke to Morris and his half volley deflected off Lees into the net.
The hosts threw men forward late on as they tried to get back on level terms but really struggled to breach the stubborn Wednesday backline. The away side held on to claim a huge three points in their fight to stay up. The Reds remain in fifth place but this is a dent to their playoff hopes.
In the end it was just one game too many for the reds. The run had to come to an end at some point but fans are just disappointed it had to be against Wednesday.
A much needed break now for the reds who will come back firing on all cylinders after the international’s.