WISE OWLS STICK TO WAITING GAME
Patience pays off against Addicks
FOR 45 minutes it looked like Sheffield Wednesday would suffer a bout of deja vu as they again toiled on home soil against a relegation-threatened side.
A fortnight after being beaten 1-0 by a resolute Rotherham team at Hills borough, Wednesday were no-shows in the opening 45 minutes against a Charlton side who refused to roll over.
But boss Carlos Carvalhal knew he had to be patient and after making a double half-time substitution, his Owls side ensured there would be no repeat as goals from Tom Lees, Fernando Forestieri and an El-Hadji Ba own goal blitzed the Addicks and strengthened their grip on the a play-off position.
Charlton’s success in stifling Wednesday before the break was down to a high intensity pressing game and the Owls boss knew his side had to wait until their opponents ran out of steam.
“The team for moments in the first half lacked confidence but never lost control or organisation,” he said.
“We knew Charlton couldn’t press all the time and when we had more time and space we started playing very well.
“We mixed it with the substitutions, (Atdhe) Nuhiu made a big impact and allowed Forestieri and Gary Hooper more space to play.
“When they lost energy we played better and we had a very good second half at a very good level. We deserved the win and the scoreline.”
Carvalhal has maintained a steadfast approach throughout the season never to discuss his side’s promotion chances, but after all of the chasing pack dropped points, this win sees them make a big step towards booking a play-off place.
The Portuguese did not change his way of doing things but instead purred about his side’s style of play.
“We are the second or third best attack in the divison and I am very happy about this because we promised our fans good attacking football and we are delivering it,” he added.
That style of football was not to be seen in the first half and Wednesday’s win looked a long way off at half time as they struggled to break down an organised and dogged Charlton side.
But, on the back of two half-time changes, Wednesday were a different proposition in the second half and laid siege at the visitors’ goal until the breakthrough finally came in the 64th minute.
Lees powered home Ross Wallace’s corner with a bullet header and that opened the floodgates as Forestieri tapped home from close range after Nuhiu’s header had hit the post five minutes later.
Alex Lopez’s shot from distance took a decisive deflection off Ba to round off the win.
The second-half capitulation hurt Charlton, who, fresh from picking up seven points in three games, are again staring relegation in the face as they sit six points adrift of safety with eight games to go.
Boss Jose Riga, who has not given up hope of keeping his side up, felt going behind in the game was pivotal.
“During the first hour we were in the game,” he said.
“In the first half we could do more to counter them, we didn’t have a lot of opportunities, but they didn’t either.
“We knew if we conceded the first it would be difficult.
“It’s a disappointment because were coming through three good games.
“We knew everybody had to be at their best level, the level we had against Middlesbrough and we didn’t have that.
“We were present in most of the game, we couldn’t find a way to compete in the final 20 minutes.”
LEES ON ME: Tom Lees, right, leaps highest to break the deadlock