There wasn’t too much to cheer about for the South Yorkshire sides this weekend. Goals, there were plenty. Points, there were not. A total of 18 goals in five games returned only 2 league points in the South Yorkshire region. Here is South Yorkshire Footie’s weekend review.
Birmingham City 4 – 1 Owls
Owls fans were unanimous in their uproar following an embarrassing defeat in the West Midlands to a Jesse Lingard inspired Birmingham City. Owls fans took to social media, fan sites and BBC Radio Sheffield to slate what was described as a disgusting performance and demand Dave Jones’ head.
Roger Johnson made his loan debut in the centre of the Wednesday defence after initially being a doubt for the game.
In the opening twenty minutes, if anyone was going to score, it was the Hillsborough outfit. They looked bright and managed to fashion a couple of chances, the first from a left foot Antonio shot, cutting in from the right wing but was straight down the Birmingham goalkeeper’s throat. The second chance was a Palmer shot which went wide after good work from Maghoma freed the winger but he failed to trouble the keeper.
The opening goal came against the run of play. Birmingham’s Burke managed to get free of Reda Johnson and fired a shot straight at Kirkland, who parried it into the path of Lingard, who made no mistake from five yards out. Just before 30 minutes, Birmingham doubled their advantage as Elliott collected the ball in the centre of the park, surged forward and served a perfect through ball which the Manchester United loanee Lingard ran onto and slid past Kirkland.
In response, Jones took off Liam Palmer before half time and put on the big Swiss striker Nuhiu, but it was too little too late as Lingard found room on the edge of the Owls box and completed his hat trick on 32 minutes with a shot out of the reach of Chris Kirkland.
Dave Jones sent the Owls squad back out early after what must have been a half time hairdryer treatment. It must have had zero effect as shortly after the break, City’s Burke ran past Helan easily on the right flank and cut backfrom the byline for Lingard who fired his fourth from inside the six yard box.
Kamil Zayatte grabbed a consolation goal, a header from a Stephen McPhail free kick into the box, but in truth the match was over. Spare a thought for the Owls fans who travelled to Birmingham and are still yet to see their team win a match this season.
Dave Jones post match interview was interesting, blaming the players for their lack of passion and demanding they roll their sleeves up and biting back at interviewers who asked about his job. Disgruntled Owls fans see it differently, stating the Jones needs to accept the responsibility, and that he should go. It’s clear that the Owls are devoid of an attacking threat, but the rumoured arrival of Leroy Lita should go some way to solving that.
The question is, if Jones was to go, who would Milan Mandaric bring in, who is willing to work with no budget?
Blades 0 – 1 Preston North End
David Weir this week acted to shore up his attacking options by bringing in Marlon King on a free and signing Leed’s Ryan Hall on loan, however on this display it is difficult to see what, if anything, has changed.
Both the new signings went straight into the side for the match at Brammall Lane.
The Blades started much as they did against Rotherham United two weeks ago. Keeping the ball well and trying to pass North End out of the game, but with no end product. Marlon King was able to bring Jose Baxter into the game holding the ball up well at times, but attacking moves petered out from there.
Sheffield United appeared to have trouble after the break, as Preston were happy to sit back and soak up pressure, hoping for a counter attack. Weir thought his side should have had a penalty in the second half after Fabian Brendy had a shot that appeared to hit the hand of Preston’s Wright.
Preston capitalised on a defensive mistake to score the only goal of the game. Matt Hill stumbled as he tried to play the ball, which veteran Kevin Davies benefited from, much to the appeals for a foul from the home crowd. The referee waved play on and Daives found Simon Beavon who was left with a simple finish in the penalty area.
Blades fans appear happy to play an entertaining passing game. if it brings results. The general consensus is that the players Weir has are not capable of playing the style he wants to play, so he should adapt. He needs to find a system that fits the tools he has, and not force the tools to fit a system if the tools can not fit. Square pegs in round holes does not work in football, and Weir needs to realise this soon or else the Blades are staring at a relegation threatened season when expectations at the outset were promotion.
Rovers 2- 2 Nottingham Forest
Paul Dickov got undoubtedly one of the loan signings of the season when he clinched the deal to bring Federico Macheda into Doncaster Rovers for an initial one month period. The deal brought an instant payoff as Macheda scored two goals in Saturdays match against an in form Forest side.
It was Rovers who went into the lead. Ex- Leicester man, Ritchie Wellens played a volleyed through ball to Theo Robinson who laid the ball off to Macheda who struck the ball cooly with his left.
The lead didn’t last long though as Forest’s Andy Reid played the ball back to Chris Cohen who lashed a shot into the roof of the net from the corner of the box.
The teams went into the break level at one a piece. Macheda looked lively and fired a shot wide after half time, but was not to be denied as he put Rovers 2-1 up with a smart tap in following another brilliant pass from Wellens.
Not to be outdone, ex-Sunderland man Reid, who had a hand in the first goal fired an unstoppable long range shot in the 81st minute, drawing Forest level, and that is how the game finished.
While Rovers haven’t won in six, the fans aren’t calling for the manager’s head as they are in other parts of South Yorkshire. And with good reason too, as all the signs are there for Rovers to have a good season. They narrowly lost to Watford in mid-week away from home, and holding Forest to a draw should be seen as a good result. Macheda’s loan signing is a sign of things to come, and if Rovers can keep hold of Wellens and Keegan in January and add another striker and defender, they will survive, and comfortably.
Tykes 1 – 5 Watford
One could be forgiven for thinking that this match was played at Vicarage Road, such was the comfort that Watford played with in what can only be described as a hammering for Barnsley.
It was not a great start for the Tykes as the Hornet’s Troy Deeney collected a through ball and found time and space to dispatch a shot into the bottom corner from 15 yards out. Barnsley deservedly equalised eight minutes later when Jason Scotland robbed a Watford defender on the edge of the box and then quickly drove home past ex-Arsenal keeper, Manuel Almunia.
Watford took four minutes to regain the advantage, with Faraoni taking advantage of a cross deflecting off Dawson who simply prodded home.
The Tykes galvanised and had good chances through both O’Grady and Peter Ramage, who put a header wide, but it was the Hornets who stormed into a 3-1 halftime lead. Watford’s Anya made his way down the left and got past the Barnsley defence before pulling across goal with a low pass that was smashed home from three yards by Forestieri.
Rueben Noble-Lazarus and O’Brien were brought on by David Flitcroft at half time in place of Kennedy and Dawson, with the intention of getting goals. When you are chasing a game, it all hangs on a knife-edge as an attack breakdown can be countered quite easily. The Tykes were pushing to reduce the arrears .
However, Watford grabbed another goal when Iriney’s free kick was deflected off the reds wall and it fell to Watford’s Murray who lashed home from25 yards past the stranded Steele. And the rout was completed as a breakaway as Barnsley were pushing for a goal resulted in Anya running from, his own half and powering a shot home.
As pointed out by our own Matthew Rollin, defence is again the key word for Barnsley. The Tykes are yet to keep a clean sheet in all competitions. While the fans are unhappy with three defeats on the spin, nobody really blames Flitcroft. The Tykes have a small budget, and perhaps expectations for this season were set by their final day escape from relegation last year. Flitcroft has added Peter Ramage to the defence, but he needs to look at loan options. After all, if you don’t concede, you can’t lose, right?
Walsall 1 – 1 Millers
Rotherham United kept their unbeaten start to the season going as they picked up an impressive away point against Walsall. However, the Millers will be disappointed to not leave with all three points after a late penalty appeal was turned down by the referee.
Walsall went into the match on the back of an impressive victory over local rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, so expectation was high that the Saddlers could repeat that performance against a team who, let’s face it, have been performing above all expectations so far. However, Rotherham were by far superior in their attacking play and took a deserved lead in the 20th minute when a Frecklington cross was headed back across goal by Alex Revell and Daniel Nardiello, hero of the victory over Oldham the week prior , lost his marker and nodded home.
The Millers appeared to switch off after scoring, and almost conceded straight away as Andy Butler nodded down to Walsall striker Baxendale who hit the ball over the bar. On 31 minutes, Walsall were rewarded for their urgency in front of goal when the ball fell to Mantom outside the area. His shot went straight through a crowd of players and straight at Scott Shearer, and the ‘keeper should have done much better with it.
After half time, it was very scrappy, with neither team able to get a foothold in the game. Rotherham were denied a clear penalty as Nardiello broke free in the area and as he was shooting was pushed. The Miller’s striker was astounded not to get the decision, as were the travelling fans.
Walsall had a good few chances,but each time shot either over or wide. Rotherham had the last clear chance as Nardiello had a header punched away by Walsall’s goalkeeper, but in the end both teams settled for a point.
Of all the South Yorkshire clubs, the team with the most to cheer about at the moment is The Millers. Rotherham are an impressive and resilient side, and Evans always seems to know what his strongest side is and what he needs to do to improve. The run can’t go on forever, and what will be interesting is what the response is after the Millers lose a match. Next weekend, the Millers play Peterborough.