I’ve just read that it’s been nine months since we won at home so we’re well overdue a win. Sheffield are sixth off top while we’re sixth off bottom and they’ve won three times already. The defeat at Barnsley really brought us all down to earth with a bump but the two-weeks since then have soothed the pain a bit and the arrival of three new players could inject some skill and steel into the team. If we can manage a win today, it’ll set us up nicely for Tuesday’s game against Forest. I was pleased that both Kone and Ndong are still with us and if they can be motivated to play, at least till January, they’ll definitely be an asset. It looks like McGeady may be out through injury and it seems likely that some or all of the new trio of McManaman, Wilson and Williams will see some action this afternoon. I’ll probably only be able to listen to the game but I’m getting into the mood. Match prediction: 2-1 to us.
When I got the team-news just after two o’clock Rodwell was in for Catts, who must have been injured along with McGeady, and both Williams and Wilson were starting with McManaman on the bench. I liked the way Williams drove all the way to the SoL on transfer deadline day so he sounds very keen at any rate.
I got the match on SAFSEE and we were playing with three centre-backs and two wing-backs. In the absence of Catts and with O’Shea being on the bench Kone was captain, which hopefully would give him something more to play for. I was pleased to hear Williams getting involved a lot in the early stages and we were having most of the ball but we had plenty in the first half-hour at Barnsley without making it count. Nothing much happened in the opening fifteen minutes but commentator Gary Bennett said he was a bit concerned at Honeyman playing wing-back and maybe Jones would have been better there. Galloway then made a mistake, again, and set up a chance for Sheffield that was cleared. Sheffield had gradually got back into the game and in the twentieth minute they took the lead when after a quick counter-attack Donaldson beat Ruiter at his near post, and our goalie should have saved it. Williams had a shot that went just past the angle of the bar and Grabban felt he should have passed to him instead. Sheffield had a decided spring in their step and if a goal for us had seemed a long way off earlier, it felt very unlikely after they scored. It sounded like Ruiter had lost a lot of confidence and that was giving our whole defence the jitters. Bennett said a few times that we were all over the place and wondered if the players really had a grip on their new formation as Sheffield were finding loads of space. Anyway, we won our first corner in the thirty-fifth minute but it was easily cleared. We still hadn’t had a shot on target. Grabban linked up well with Vaughan but the latter shot just wide of the right-hand post. The crowd was 29,579 and most of them, like me, weren’t sounding very happy with the performance so far. Wilson was yellow-carded on his debut after bringing down Donaldson, who’d been giving him the runaround. I was glad there was only a minute of stoppage-time as Sheffield sounded more likely to get a goal and we needed to change things around as we really hadn’t clicked after a fairly bright opening. The boos when the whistle went said it all.
The half-time highlights on SAFSEE consisted of Sheffield’s goal and…..nothing else. I wouldn’t argue with that. I wondered what changes would be made as something had to be done if we were to get even a draw. As the teams emerged O’Shea was on for Kone so presumably Kone had been injured. A few minutes in Coutts was booked for a foul on Williams who had to go off the field to receive some treatment. Williams was at least getting stuck in, more than most of the others seemed to be. We still hadn’t changed our formation and were living dangerously but on the hour McManaman came on for Vaughan, who’d done little but had had poor service. We won a corner and then a free-kick in a decent position but nothing came of them. With twenty-five minutes to go we had one more sub to use and needed some inspiration from somewhere. We had a good shout for a penalty when Williams was pushed in the box but the ref wasn’t having it. We finally switched to four at the back and then we replaced Honeyman with Gooch but instead of bringing some positive changes, Donaldson put them two-up and that was clearly it. A loud chant of “You’re not fit to wear the shirt” went round the stadium and given the lack of character today from most of the side, that seemed a fair comment. Donaldson was injured in his celebrations and had to go off. There were still more than ten minutes to go and it was quite possible that things could get even worse. We were still only putting one player in the box instead of really having a go and the movement of our players had been poor all game. Lundstram had a shot that was tipped over and though we seemed incapable of getting a shot on target, we actually managed to pull one back through Rodwell in the dying throes of five minutes of stoppage-time and it ended 1-2.
Apart from Williams and McManaman, this was a lousy performance on all levels and I’m glad I only listened to it and didn’t have to watch.
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