Friday, 26 January 2018

Sheffield Wednesday 3 v Reading 1 - FA Cup R4

Friday 26th January 2018
Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round
at Hillsborough Stadium
Sheffield Wednesday (1) 3
Atdhe Nuhiu 29, 54, George Boyd 61
Reading (0) 1
Cameron Dawson OG 85
Admission £15. Programme £3
Attendance 14,848

Sheffield Wednesday
Dawson, Hunt, Venancio, Loovens (C), Pudil (Palmer 63), Fox, Boyd, Pelupessy, Reach (Jones 71), Matias (Rhodes 89), Nuhiu.
Unused subs - Wildsmith, Butterfield, Joao, Wallace.
Jaakkola, Gunter (C), Bacuna (Evans 79), Moore, Ilori, Edwards, Clement, Beerens, McCleary (Barrow 65), Böðvarsson, Kermorgant (Smith 79).
Unused subs - Mannone, Aluko, Blackett, Kelly.
Wednesday reached the fourth round of the FA Cup when Marco Matias and Atdhe Nuhiu scored a goal apiece in their third round replay against Carlisle united, after the Owls had initially drawn nil-nil at the League Two side's Brunton Park ground.
While Reading also needed a replay to see off another League Two side: Stevenage, with a hat trick from Jon Dadi Bodvarsson that saw them safely through in the Madejski Stadium replay, following a goalless draw at Broadhall Way.
Neither side have exactly been having the best of seasons in the Championship so far this term, with the hosts stumbling along in seventeenth place with Reading struggling one place and three points beneath them, so I wouldn't imagine that a FA Cup tie would have been at the top of Jos Luhukay, who recently took over the managerial reigns at Hillsborough from Carlos Carvalhal, or his fellow Dutchman: Jakob "Jaap" Stam, the Royals manager's list of priorities.
Which would explain the apparent lack of urgency by either team tonight at times.
Reading looked well organised and assured on the ball from the off and were effectively bossing the pace of the game during the opening exchanges, which was, for the most part, being played in the Wednesday half of the pitch, where the home side were guilty of some woeful distribution and sloppy passing early on.
The first goal scoring opportunity of the night, after four minutes, belonged to Reading too, but they were thwarted by the quick reactions of the young Owls goalkeeper Cameron Dawson, after Leandro Bacuna had threaded a pass from midfield into the path of Dave Edwards, who'd timed his run in behind the Owls defence to perfection, but Dawson spread himself and blocked the resulting goal bound effort.
Another stray pass inside their own half caused Wednesday more problems at the back as Pelle Clement picked up a loose ball and pushed forward towards the Owls penalty area, where he was blatantly and cynically pulled backwards right on the edge of the area by Joey Pelupussy.
It was squeaky bum time for the hosts and they would've been relieved that the match referee had ruled the offence was just outside the area and in spite of Clement being in a goal scoring position with a clear run on goal, Mr Brooks opted to only show Pelupussy a yellow card instead of a red.
Reading's French striker Yann Kermorgant rifled his free kick straight into the Owls defensive wall and shortly afterwards Kermorgant scuffed the ball after getting on the end of right wing delivery from Jon Bodvarsson.
The home side seriously needed to buck their ideas up, which they did after taking the lead against the run of play. And though it would be wrong to single out any individual for criticism given the lackadaisical way the home side had started, I don't ever recall seeing a professional footballer look as uncomfortable on the ball as the highly rated Frederico Venancio, who didn't seem to be reading from the same hymn sheet as the rest of his team mates from the outset, and as a consequence several attempted moves forward from deep positions faltered, because the Owls Portuguese defender (on a season long loan from Vitória de Setúbal) had opted to pass the ball back to his keeper unnecessarily, or spray a string of aimless passes across the back three, putting pressure on his fellow defenders instead of eliminating the danger that the pressing Reading forwards were already creating.
Pelupessy had Wednesday's first opportunity to score, but having been restricted to shooting from long range, shot over the Reading goal and into the empty seating in the lower tier of the Leppings Lane End of the ground (the Reading fans were located in the upstairs seats).
Reading fans
Ironically when the home side finally did make meaningful progress into the Royals half and opened the scoring in the twenty ninth minute, it was a sublime pass from the aforementioned and previously lacklustre Venancio that unlocked the visitors defence for Atdhe Nuhiu to run on to and score.
The visiting defenders appealed that Nuhiu had been in an offside position when Venancio played the ball and pointed to the action replay on the scoreboard screen as evidence to their claims, but as Nuhiu planted the ball emphatically under the dive of Anssi Jaakkola, his was a well taken and perfectly legit strike, that had taken full advantage of the Reading back line getting caught out strung in a static row too high across the pitch, that had virtually invited Wednesday to take take advantage.
Maybe Venancio had been playing with his boots on the wrong feet earlier in the game, because it was a quality knock to set up the goal, which seemed to settle down the hosts and curb the home crowds growing frustrations.
Jaakola denied Morgan Fox as the home side looked to double their lead, but it was Reading who finished the half passing the ball around and retaining possession in their opponents half, although it must be said, sans any final penetration.
HT: Owls 1 v Royals 0
The next goal would be vital and though they huffed and puffed like the biggest and baddest of wolves ever trying to break into a well constructed homestead, Reading just weren't getting the rub of the green, while Wednesday rode their luck and counted their blessings that they are so well endowed in the goalkeeping department, as Dawson continued to impress.
Right at the start of the second half, Bodvarsson and Kermorgant combined and fielded the ball out wide to Garath McCleary who unlocked Wednesday with a quick return ball back across the penalty area, that Kermorgant diverted towards the Owls goal, but Dawson had read the situation well and got behind the ball to comfortably take a catch.
Venancio, the architect of the opening goal, almost created an equaliser for Reading, when he didn't get enough power behind his header back to Dawson and laid it into the path of Bodvarsson instead, who lobbed
the ball over the advancing keeper but saw his effort headed clear inside the six yard box.
Leandro Bacuna fizzed the ball across the Owls goalmouth and picked out the unmarked Bodvarsson, whose close range strike had goal written all over it, but Dawson kept it out with an excellent agile save, that had Jaap Stam's side cursing their luck that they had come up against a young keeper who was having the game of his life.
And Reading's bad luck in front of goal was compounded after fifty four minutes, when Marco Matias won the ball from McNulty out by the left corner flag and picked out the run of Nuhiu with a low cross, who knocked it into the back of the visitors net from five yards out, to double the Owls lead.
The visitors now had a mountain to climb and their position wasn't helped any when Bacuna's long range strike crashed back off the upright with Dawson (eventually) well beaten and play quickly switched ends, with Matias playing Chris Boyd through on goal, who took full advantage of the visitors keeper having a rush of blood to his head to leave himself completely stranded while Boyd rolled the ball into an unguarded net.
Dawson made two more saves; one from Bacuna's free kick that he held by his left hand post as the ball curled around the Owls wall and the other from the Royals defender Liam Moore who got his head to Edwards flick on from Roy Beeren's corner, while Jaakola was also in action at the other end, where he did well to deny Boyd, while Matias put the ball wide of the target when it looked easier for him to score.
Reading did get a late consolation goal, in the eighty fifth minute, when Venancio deflected Modou Barrow's right wing cross against the upright and the ball hit Dawson's back and ended up crossing the line.
The goal was credited as an own goal by the Owls keeper, though the visitors had followed the ball in just to make sure, which I suppose means that Venancio could claim an assist for both team's goals at that end of the ground if he was so inclined. 
FT: Sheffield Wednesday 3 v Reading 1
As I drove away from the ground, some local radio 'expert' analyst was claiming that Reading had been atrocious on the night and didn't offer any kind of threat to the dominant hosts, while also saying that Cameron Dawson was a candidate for man of the match. 
Hmm, the inaccuracy of his blatant contradiction speaks for itself.
The visitors had kept the ball well for long periods, the Owls goalkeeper had impressed throughout, numerous times... and Wednesday, particularly Atdhe Nuhiu, had been more clinical in front of goal when it mattered.
As for Frederico Venancio... on this showing, I'd advise Wednesday's new manager Jos Luhukay to stick him in the opposition half, so he can cause their defenders to have kittens instead of his own.
Before the radio show descended any further into a: "I've not been to the game tonight, but I've called to comment on how well we played" phone-in type annoyance, I turned it off.