Steel City derby win re­quired to make fans for­get

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL - AT HILLS­BOR­OUGH Email: richard.her­ Twit­ter: @RHer­cock­YPS­port

BARRY BANNAN be­lieves the Steel City derby could be the per­fect game in which to res­cue Sh­effield Wed­nes­day’s fal­ter­ing sea­son.

The Owls were hu­mil­i­ated by a sec­ond-half col­lapse at Hills­bor­ough as Nor­wich City ripped apart the hosts’ frag­ile de­fence to end Satur­day top of the Cham­pi­onship.

It was the fourth con­sec­u­tive de­feat for the Owls – who have the worst de­fen­sive record in the Cham­pi­onship, ship­ping 30 goals in 16 games – and leaves them hov­er­ing above the rel­e­ga­tion zone.

A toxic at­mo­sphere en­gulfed Hills­bor­ough as goals from Teemu Pukki (2), Emi Buen­dia and sub­sti­tute Den­nis Sr­beny saw the ma­jor­ity of home sup­port­ers in the 23,425 crowd make an early exit.

Those who re­mained chanted for out-of-favour Keiren West­wood and Sam Hutchin­son to be re­called to the side, and chair­man De­jphon Chan­siri was con­fronted by an­gry fans out­side the sta­dium, de­mand­ing Dutch­man Jos Luhukay be sacked as man­ager.

It all leaves Wed­nes­day in dis­ar­ray head­ing into a daunt­ing trip to neigh­bours Sh­effield United on Fri­day night.

But Owls mid­fielder Bannan be­lieves the derby at­mo­sphere in­side Bra­mall Lane could be just the acid test his stut­ter­ing team needs.

“We have a mas­sive game on Fri­day, but it is prob­a­bly one of the bet­ter games to come round at this time be­cause if we win on Fri­day then ev­ery­thing gets for­got­ten about and the fans will be happy again,” said Bannan.

“It is prob­a­bly a good game to go into con­sid­er­ing the cir­cum­stances we are in at the minute.

“It’s not a great feel­ing. We are go­ing through a tough time at the minute.

“It’s not a great re­sult, but what can you do? It has hap­pened now so we have to get on with it.

“[What is re­quired is] hard work. We have got a week ahead of us to look for­ward to it.

“We have to get over this game over the next cou­ple of days. We are off [yes­ter­day].

“It gives us time to think about it and Mon­day is the start of a fresh week. It’s a mas­sive game and one we look for­ward to.”

Wed­nes­day were in­debted to goal­keeper Cameron Daw­son, who saved a fifth-minute penalty from Mario Vran­cic.

The hosts should then have pun­ished the Ca­naries – 5-1 losers on their last two vis­its to Hills­bor­ough – as they cre­ated sev­eral good chances.

On-loan Josh Onomah was guilty of two glar­ing misses, both times af­ter good work from Adam Reach, and Tim Krul de­nied Bannan’s long-range strike to go into half-time at 0-0.

But once Pukki net­ted on 51 min­utes – pounc­ing on Moritz Leit­ner’s de­flected shot – Wed­nes­day’s fragility was ex­posed as panic set in and the de­fence dis­in­te­grated to leave Hills­bor­ough stunned.

Five min­utes later it was 2-0. Daniel Pudil, re­called to the de­fence with Michael Hec­tor and Mor­gan Fox axed af­ter the 3-1 loss at Birm­ing­ham City, hoofed a mis-hit clear­ance high into the air, and Buen­dia was af­forded all the time and space to bring the ball down be­fore fir­ing be­yond a stranded Daw­son.

The Ca­naries smelled blood and they sliced through the Owls’ flimsy rear­guard, a flow­ing move fin­ished off by Fin­land in­ter­na­tional Pukki.

Sta­tis­tics show Daw­son has made more saves than any other goal­keeper in the Cham­pi­onship, and the 23-year-old boosted those fig­ures to twice deny Sr­beny and Onel Her­nan­dez.

But the rookie goal­keeper was cul­pa­ble for Nor­wich’s fourth goal, his weak clear­ance only reach­ing Vran­cic, who slipped in Sr­beny to com­plete the rout.

“It is not good enough and we know it is not good enough,“ad­mit­ted Bannan.

“It is frus­trat­ing. It is hard to point out what it is.

“We should have gone into the break with a few goals un­der our belt. We missed a good few chances.

“In the sec­ond half it was like a com­pletely dif­fer­ent team that was out there. It is hard and ev­ery­one is frus­trated.

“We have got to keep work­ing hard. Ob­vi­ously, Jan­uary is a long MIS­ER­ABLE TIME: way away so we can’t get play­ers in.

“It’s that group in there that have got to work their hearts out for this club and fight and hope­fully it will turn round.

“I wouldn’t say (Owls lack) con­fi­dence. I just think we are con­ced­ing too many goals as a team.

“You are never go­ing to win games when you are con­ced­ing all the time.

“It is not point­ing the fin­ger at the de­fence. It is the whole team. We need to work harder de­fen­sively to keep the ball out of the net.

“We never re­ally gave any chances to Nor­wic,h but in the sec­ond half as soon as they scored, just like in re­cent weeks, we went un­der. We gave them the free­dom of the pitch and we need to ad­dress that and quickly.

“It doesn’t hurt us enough when we con­cede.

“I don’t think it hurts enough be­cause we keep con­ced­ing goals at will. We need to ad­dress it and ad­dress it quickly.

“I’m con­fi­dent we can turn it around. As bad as it is, we have still got a good team in there.”

Barry Bannan is de­jected at full-tine af­ter Sh­effield Wed­nes­day were com­pre­hen­sively beaten at home by Nor­wich City. In­set, goal­keeper Cameron Daw­son’s fifth-minute penalty save from Mario Vran­cic had given the home side false hope.

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