THE MARK TO AID WEDNESDAY WIN
Visitors cut way through Forest
AIDEN McGEADY has been tipped to emulate Wednesday darlings Fernando Forestieri and Gary Hooper after opening his account in a ruthless demolition of Nottingham Forest.
The former Celtic star – signed by Spartak Moscow for £9.5m in 2010 – failed to sparkle in two years at Everton and had endured an equally anodyne start since pitching up on loan at Hillsborough in February.
But after McGeady’s coolly dispatched opener capped a lively performance, Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal backed the 29year-old winger to show the form that made him Scotland’s most expensive player.
“We know the player and we know his quality,” said Carvalhal, who, despite a straight red card for Barry Bannan, saw his side canter to victory through further goals from Hooper and Marco Matias.
“That is why we persisted with him. We are doing with Aiden what we did with Fernando and Gary. In the beginning, they were not good.
“You remember in the first four or five weeks, people had a lot of questions and things to say about those players.
“They always had potential and we just had to learn about that and create the conditions for them to show it. McGeady is exactly the same and I believe he can show the same qualities.”
How Forest would kill for a player of McGeady’s quality, irrespective of form. Hamstrung by a transfer ban and more injuries than a trauma ward, Dougie Freedman’s side is a patchwork of callow kids and reserves.
Already shorn of Britt Assombalonga and Jamie Mackie, a season-ending injury to nine-goal top-scorer Nelson Oliveira on the eve of kick-off left the Reds with only Chris O’Grady to lead a line bereft of menace or mobility.
And though early forays – a stinging shot from David Vaughan, a deflected effort from Chris Cohen – threatened an upset, Forest were no match for the visitors’ expensively assembled artists. Bannan soon found his range, picking passes and working space. Kieran Lee ran rings round Vaughan, who succumbed to the pressure when he ceded possession 25 yards from goal.
Bannan strode away and fed McGeady, who evaded the weak challenge of Eric Lichaj to thump home on the angle.
In fairness, Forest stemmed the tide admirably, with Ryan Mendes’ header forcing another save from the impressive Keiren Westwood, but the second goal was, as Freedman admitted, a “game-killer”. Matt Mills, trying to play out from the back, found only Forestieri, who slid Hooper in for a first in six games.
“Millsy has probably tried too hard to pick a pass,” said Freedman. “It’s a mistake but there’s no blame attached to him. I’ve asked the players to play a certain way because I don’t think going long suits us.”
Hope briefly fluttered in Forest hearts when Bannan stupidly piled into a high challenge on Lichaj, earning Wednesday’s third red card in six games. Protests were scant, suggesting Bannan accepted his guilt, though Carvalhal later suggested that his players had been “educated” not to complain.
Forest did rally but, amid a febrile, frustrated and increasingly hostile atmosphere, it was Wednesday who struck again, Atdhe Nuhiu nodding down for fellow sub Matias to strike home.
BIG MAC: Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Aiden McGeady celebrates his goal
STAR MAN KIERAN