OWLS’ DE­FENCE DE­LIGHTS GRAY

Wingers see off Ter­ri­ers

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Josh Ni­cholls To com­ment on this match go to http://boards.footy­mad.net/

SH­EFFIELD Wed­nes­day man­ager Stu­art Gray hailed his side’s de­fen­sive qual­i­ties af­ter they shut out Hud­der­s­field to claim vic­tory in this York­shire derby.

Goals from fran­co­phone wingers Jeremy Helan and Jac­ques Maghoma at the John Smith’s Sta­dium ex­tended Wed­nes­day’s un­beaten run away from home to nine matches.

But Gray af­ter­wards praised his de­fend­ers for their con­tri­bu­tions to the run as well as his team’s prow­ess on the coun­ter­at­tack.

“We’ve got people who are will­ing to put their bod­ies on the line if shots come in,” said Gray.

“I’ve got a say­ing: ‘a good de­fender has a good habit of get­ting hit with the ball’ and we seem to have a few de­fend­ers who get hit with the ball.

“We’ve got the legs in the team that can counter-at­tack, we can be up the other end of the pitch within six or seven sec­onds.”

De­spite the home side en­joy­ing the ma­jorty of pos­ses­sion in the first half, it was the Owls who led at half-time cour­tesy of a Helan’s 40th-minute strike.

The French winger charged down a Peter Clarke clear­ance in­side the penalty area and drove a low right-footed shot into the bot­tom cor­ner.

But de­spite head­ing into half­time a goal to the good, Gray con­ceded that he was far from im­pressed with his side the first half as their hosts bossed and dic­tated the play.

“I was very dis­ap­pointed in the first half,” Gray added. “We couldn’t get to grips with their shape.

“When you play against a di­a­mond you need to close it down col­lec­tively, we were do­ing it in­di­vid­u­ally and we were get­ting picked off.

“We jigged it around and then we sorted it out at half-time and then I thought we dom­i­nated the game sec­ond half.

“The pleas­ing thing was the dis­ci­pline in the side – we kept our shape, we didn’t go chas­ing the ball and this made their op­tions dif­fi­cult as they had to thread balls through.”

Hud­der­s­field’s best chance came in the 65th minute when Danny Ward forced Chris Kirk­land into a save with his feet af­ter re­ceiv­ing a cross-field pass from Adam Clay­ton.

How­ever, the Owls dou­bled their ad­van­tage in the 72nd minute when Sam Hutchin­son fed Maghoma in­side the box and the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo in­ter­na­tional jinked away from Clarke and shot low past Alex Smithies.

Town nearly grabbed a con­so­la­tion goal in the 87th minute but Johnathan Hogg dragged his halfvol­ley wide from a Ward knock-down.

Hud­der­s­field were booed at the fi­nal whis­tle by some of their fans and boss Mark Robins was quick to ac­knowl­edge that de­spite their pos­ses­sion, his side had an off-day.

“The pos­ses­sion side of it is van­ity re­ally if you don’t go any­where with it,” said Robins.

“It’s fine, you play in front of them, they press you (and) you then start to doubt yourself.

“The crowd can see you doubt­ing yourself and they get on your back. That’s what hap­pened and we’ve just got to get back to work prop­erly.

“We cre­ated chances and we’ve lit the blue touch paper quite a lot this sea­son in most games.

“You can count on one hand the num­ber of games where we’ve not been great and I’d count this as one of those.

“I cer­tainly won’t change the way that we are go­ing, I think what we need to do is work harder.

“The tran­si­tion from de­fen­sive third to mid-third was OK. But I think the tran­si­tion from mid-third to at­tack­ing third was non-ex­is­tent at times.

“We are ei­ther a pass­ing team or we are not and we need the sup­port­ers to stay with us on it.”

PIC­TURES: Me­dia Im­age Ltd

MAK­ING A POINT: Sh­effield Wed­nes­day’s Jac­ques Maghoma cel­e­brates his goal

OPENER: Sh­effield Wed­nes­day mid­fielder Jeremy Helan puts his side 1-0 up

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