With a South Yorkshire derby this weekend, it should have been a day to remember for the region. It was quite simply a day to forget for supporters of all bar Doncaster Rovers (even though it’s likely that their performance this weekend will live long in the memory). Three of the region’s managers are under intensifying pressure, and it won’t be long until SYF are covering a managerial casualty. David Flitcroft’s Barnsley slumped to the bottom of the Championship, despite a battling performance against Leicester away from home, while the two Sheffield clubs continued their poor run of results under the two David’s, Jones and Weir. Meanwhile, Rotherham’s impressive run finally came to an end at home to Peterborough
Sheffield Wednesday 0 – 1 Doncaster Rovers
Prior to the match, all the talk coming out of the Owl’s camp was how Federico Macheda had been a tranfer target for Dave Jones. How the Wednesday boss must be wishing he had sealed a deal now, especially as the on loan Manchester United striker was the difference in a spirited South Yorkshire Derby.
With all the talk being about strikers they missed out in, it flew under the radar somewhat that the Owls did actually sign a striker before the match. Hull city’s Matty Fryatt joined the club in time to make the bench.
The Owls started with Nuhie up top, with Jermaine Johnson restored to the starting line up playing in behind the big Swiss forward. Doncaster Rovers meanwhile named three up fron, with Macheda spearheading an attack containing Brown and Theo Robinson. Rovers, it seemed, were keen to exploit the pace up front and break often.
The owls retained posession really well, frustrating the Rovers defence and midfielders. Both Wellens and Keegan received yellow cards early on, and Nuhiu for Wednesday received a yellow for a retaliatory tackle.
The Owls fans were trying to be patient, and after thirty minutes when Nuhiu shot wide after escaping his marker, they really got behind the Owls. Minutes later, spurred on by support and mixed calls to shoot or pass, Jermaine Johnson lashed a shot over the bar when a pass to the right where Antonio was stood unmarked was the better option. Half time arrived and the teams left the pitch to the chants of the Owls fans, clearly impressed by the level of passion being shown from their time.
It was more one way traffic after the break with The Owls having a Nuhiu header cleared off the line followed by a Llera header stopped on the line too.
Matty Fryatt was sent on for his Owls debut on 69 minutes, but it was Macheda who stole the headlines two minutes later a close range header from a magnificent James Coppinger cross.
Doncaster held on and could have made it two on 76 minutes when Macheda dragged a shot wide.
Wednesday fans must be wondering what their team needs to do to get a win, especially having gained a draw for a negative performance against Yeovil and getting nothing for a battling, posession based game against Doncaster. Rovers are right where they need to be. Their performances of late deserved better results than they have been getting. Macheda, though, has been an inspired signing.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 – 0 Blades
If you look up the phrase “Dead man walking” on UrbanDictionary.com, it would not surpirse me if you were to find a picture of David Weir staring back at you. The Blades are still winless since the opening game of the season, pointless throughout September (Blades fans would argue that Weir’s managerial reign os pointless too) and they are now propping up League One.
The game started with a flurry of activity, and United conceded a corner in the first minute, but then it was all United. Baxter and King look like they could be a promising strike partnership, but the problem that is proving to be the Blades undoing just will not go away. United just seem incapable of putting the round thing in the back of the onion bag.
Both teams went into the half time break without breaking the deadlock.
A different Wolves came out after the break though, with much more attacking intent shown by them. Leigh Griffiths made travelling fans, who seemed more intent on booing ex-Blade Kevin McDonald, sick to the back teeth when he bundled in from close range on 66 minutes.
United went in search of an equaliser, but as so often happens, when they were up one end of the pitch chasing a goal, Wolves broke and Sako hit an unstoppable thirty yarder past Long.
Blades fans must be wondering what next as their team slipped to the bottom of League One. How long can this continue before someone realises they could well be in a relegation scrap?
Leicester City 2 – 1 Tykes
Football is not a game being enjoyed by Barnsley this season, looking at results. It comes as little surprise then that the town’s football enthusiasts have taken to a different game instead; drawing lottery balls from a hat.
The rules of the new game are simple. Pick the squad numbers of the Barnsley team and place the numbers in a hat. The first 11 drawn out get to start on a Saturday. The chances of predicting the team that plays is remote. Probably similar odds to that of winning the real lottery.
Barnsley’s travelling fans this Saturday may have made educated guesses as to who would start. My guess is most would have been wrong. Flitcroft had spoken of the partnership between O Grady and Scotland up front last week. Scotland had indeed netted Barnsley’s only goal against Watford. The partnership would remain against Leicester, wouldn’t it? No. Scotland was relegated to the bench. This was just one of 6 changes made to the starting 11.
The players who emerged at 3pm against Leicester who hadn’t started against Watford were: Butland, Fox, Jennings, Mvoto, McCourt and Noble Lazurus. Maybe I’m being harsh calling this a lottery. After all Butland and Fox were not at the club last week and McCourt’s display had been one of the few encouraging signs last weekend – but 6 changes? Surely the squad from last season had done well under Flitcroft to prove themselves yet many are left pondering how he does not know his best team at this stage in the season. Also what does seem to have emerged from the pattern so far is that Kennedy is not defending well and Mvoto may not yet be ready for the championship. Both started yesterday.
Moving on from this lottery, leads me to another lottery; what rules apply to the game each week. Will it be the version used by the officials in the Watford game; they clearly knew of a rule change for the match which meant that the linesman in front of the West stand in the first half did not have to apply the offside rule. Jump forward a week to Leicester and another new rule: if a player scores a goal that is onside, disallow it. Whilst you cannot predict a lottery result, you could have predicted that the change of rules between the games would both work in favour of Barnlsey’s opponents: Watford’s first was allowed to stand one week, with Barnsley’s opener yesterday by Scott Wiseman getting chalked off the score sheet. Sadly yesterday’s defeat was also somewhat in line with predictions too.
Maybe this lottery game isn’t much fun after all. Probably more fun for David Flitcroft than the next game he faces: Russian roulette. Again the rules appear straight forward: get points from the next two games and you get a crack at some easier opposition. Fail to get points and his managerial reign at Barnsley looks over. Just Reading and QPR stand between the outcome. Some firing squad indeed.
Millers 0 – 1 Peterborough
Well, the run had to end eventually, right?
The miller’s ninth league game of the season brought their first defeat, at the hands of Darren Ferguson’s second placed Peterborough. Both teams have shown that they like to attack, and the Miller’s being the home side did just that, with 11 shots in the first twenty minutes.
The Millers had the best opportunity of the first half. The impressive Robert Milsom shot from 30 yards and it was parried into the path of Daniel Nardiello who blazed over from 10 yards. Minutes later, Millers had a further chance when captain Craig Morgan headed to the far post from a corner and then Mark Bradley connected. The ball was going in but was cleared off the line by the Peterborough defence.
The defeat came to a penalty in the 51st minute, which was a harsh ball to hand given against Kari Arnason. Arnason was booked and Grant McCann powered home the penalty.
The Millers tried to equalise, but Peterborough showed why they are second in the league with a staunch defensive performance. But the Millers can be proud of the performance, and their run in League One so far. Even Darren Ferguson post match commented he expected the New York stadium outfit to be top six, perhaps even top two at a stretch this season. Next up for Rotherham is Brentford away. It will be interesting if the Millers get any sort of result. Four years ago, assistant manager at the time John Breckin said that good teams do not lost two on spin.
Are Rotherham a good team?