"With 80 minutes of an action packed Steel City derby gone, I was ready to leave Bramall Lane with a smile on my face despite what seemed like a guaranteed defeat. We might have been 0-2 down, but I felt we had dominated the game from start to finish and had suffered “one of those days.” 10 minutes later and with two scrappy goals under our belts, I was almost disappointed that we hadn’t nicked an injury time winner.
Wednesday have still only won once in the league at the home of our bitter rivals since 1967, but if anyone can remember a better performance from the Owls at Bramall Lane since that victory (and I include the 2-1 win in 2009 in that category), I’d love to hear from them. 18 shots to six in favour of the away team says it all; there was only one team who deserved to win that game, and it wasn’t the team who were 2-0 ahead at half-time.
Contrary to the opinions of some of my friends, I felt Megson’s line-up was slightly negative. We started with two up front and Marshall on the left wing, but with O’Connor playing as a make shift right midfielder and the fairly defensive partnership of Semedo and Lines in the middle, we lacked a bit of craft in central areas and couldn’t take advantage of the Blades’ shaky left back. If Prutton was 100% fit, surely he would have started ahead of O’Connor, with Lines moving out wide – giving us a bit more creativity. Yet despite the fairly ineffective midfield (the excellent Marshall aside), we still created a number of chances. Madine and O’Grady held the ball up brilliantly, while Marshall’s threat from open play and set pieces was there for all to see.
Despite the obvious positives, however, it seemed as though nothing was going for us. Michael Oliver, the 26 year old referee who has been banished from the Premier League for a number of poor performances (why on earth referees who don’t succeed in the Premier League should be capable of taking charge of games as big as this one is beyond me, but that’s a different story), gave a number of nothing free kicks to both sides - one of which was headed in by Ched Evans - while O’Grady’s miss was one of the worst I’ve seen in a long time.
The second half was less exciting than the first, and with the final whistle looming it looked as though the Blades had done enough to hold on. Jermaine Johnson was introduced and although he didn’t show the attacking intentions we all know he is capable of, the extra defender he drew away left space across the pitch, space that Marshall was able to exploit down the left-hand side – poor Matthew Lowton will be having sleepless nights for weeks to come over the Stoke loanee’s pace and ability – but still we couldn’t force the ball across the line. Eventually, and I admit I had almost given up hope, the richly deserved rewards came. First O’Grady headed in and then the Goal Machine bundled in the equaliser. If Rob Jones was an inch taller, we may even have nicked a winner.
So the 113th league derby between Sheffield’s biggest clubs ended in a draw, a result I’m sure both Danny Wilson and Gary Megson would have taken before a ball was kicked. Amazingly given we were 0-2 down after 80 minutes, it is surely the Owls that are most aggrieved not to have taken the crucial three points. Whether we needed a more experienced referee, to improve our set piece defending, or just that extra bit of fortune, on another given day it could easily have been a heavy away win. Play like that for the rest of the season, and surely the Owls will be playing Championship football come August 2012."
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