Malcolm Dawson writes…….there was no Northern League today. A light dusting of snow early morning and a whole heap of surface water all around the North East ensured the Bank Holiday Monday morning fixtures had no chance of going ahead. There were cash turnstiles at the Stadium of Light so was I tempted to go. I hate to say it but no I wasn’t. I hadn’t let Friday’s result fill me with optimism. I was moved, if that’s the right word, by the manager’s appeal to fans to get behind the team and the club’s willingness to put it so prominently on the website. Perhaps after years of treating us with disdain, those who have been charged with struggling to keep the club as a going concern, are trying to limit the damage which is the result of a clueless and now absentee and disinterested landlord. I take no pride in what some will see as a desertion, but sometimes I feel you have to acknowledge that when a relationship has lost its lustre it’s time to walk away.
Pete Sixsmith though was there and his report does nothing to convince me that I should have been there too.
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (HOME)
And that, as they say, is it! We hoped that our time in the Championship would be short and it most certainly has been. This latest defeat is the killer and the one that puts us down. Should a resurgent Birmingham City win at Bolton tonight (Tuesday) we can order the sackcloth and ashes safe in the knowledge that they will be donned at Fulham and at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
This was by no means our worst performance of this dismal season. The players were up for it, they looked comfortable and confident for the first hour or so and they played some decent football. Cattermole and McNair were in control of the midfield, Honeyman and Gooch scampered around as only they know how and there was some threat from McGeady. After a shaky start, Wilson settled in and along with O’Shea we looked solid at the back against a Wednesday side that seemed to play everything through Barry Bannon.
But we didn’t score. Love put one over the bar, the keeper made a smart save from a McGeady free kick and there were a couple of occasions when the ball bounced around in their box. We needed to take the lead and put them firmly on the back foot. The longer it went goalless, the more worried I got and it came as no surprise when our defence collapsed in the face of three crosses and conceded three goals, goals that we are oh so familiar with.
Ball knocked into the box, ball either headed straight into the net or laid off for an unmarked opponent to slide it into the net. Goalkeeper looks at defenders. Defenders look at goalkeeper. Crowd groans and thinks about what they might be having for tea.
We did equalise through Honeyman and straight from the restart as well. That gave us a foothold in a game that we simply had to win and I thought that Chris Coleman missed a trick here. Matthews for Oviedo was like for like (Oviedo was injured) but a change from five in midfield to three and two up front might just have paid dividends.
As it was, Gooch, the man likeliest to come off, gave away a needless free kick from which The Owls scored. Despite Cattermole hitting the post and referee Simon Hooper (how did he pass his fitness test? He looked fatter than me….) turning down what looked like a very strong penalty appeal, they closed the game out when the Kosovan giant Atdhe Nuhiu headed in to bang yet another nail in the coffin.
To be honest dear reader, I am getting sick and tired of droning on about the same old deficiencies week in and week out. No doubt you are equally s and t of reading them. I shall go to Leeds on Saturday and will take in the Norwich and Burton home games. Reading and Fulham are off the agenda and, should we be down (99% certain), I shall probably not bother with the Wolves game.
I had hoped for a season in the middle of the Championship to consolidate under Simon Grayson but like most supporters, had no idea of the real state that the club was/is in. Two managers, both with decent reputations, have utterly failed to halt the slide of a famous old club that represents a passionate part of the footballing world but is now laughed and sniggered at by those who think themselves our betters.
I have renewed my ticket for next year, principally because I would not know what to do on a Saturday afternoon. But it could well be my final year as I have great fears that the slide is not over and there may well be worse ignominies to come.
I think we went on Monday half expecting to kick on – and half expecting to slip back. As usual it was the latter. Burton, Barnsley and ourselves will be the three to drop into The Land of the Checkatrade Trophy. For the two B’s it is not unknown territory. For us it is. We could be playing in it for a long, long time.