Thursday, March 22, 2018

Armchair Fan Blog - Brighton (A)

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Matt Savage returns to his armchair for a Tuesday night tussle down in deepest Sussex - the Owls taking on Brighton.

Amex Stadium, Brighton.
Ground: Amex, Brighton
Attendance: 25,725

A 1-0 home defeat to local rivals Doncaster Rovers after a good performance had Wednesday fans optimistic that their first win of the season was just around the corner. In their way was a Brighton side that lost their last outing - falling to a 2-0 reverse to Ipswich Town. With the return of top scorer Leonardo Ulloa and the Owls languishing at the relegation zone, home fans were expecting a 3 point return come full-time.

'The Massive' at Brighton.
An early foul on Jose Semedo, back in the side replacing David Prutton, by Bruno is quickly followed up by fouls on Roger Johnson, Semedo again and Lewis Buxton as neither side can gain any momentum in a slow start. The first chance of the game comes in the 16th minute when Brighton earn a corner kick following good defensive work by Buxton, back from injury - but the set-piece is wasted and Chris Kirkland remains untested. In the 23rd minute a cross by Inigo Calderon is met by Andrew Crofts whose right-footed shot is blocked and cleared as the Wednesday back line look resilient. When Stephen McPhail concedes a free-kick in a dangerous position, fouling Ulloa that resilience looks to be tested. As the set-piece is crossed in Ulloa out-jumps his marker and heads the ball on, only for Crofts to rifle a right-footed shot high over the crossbar in a let off for the Owls.

Off the ball its Brighton doing all the attacking work, keeping possession better than their lowly opponents and making the black and yellow clad players chase the ball. When Kazenga Lua Lua is fouled by Michail Antonio, Brighton have another good opportunity to put the ball into the box. Unfortunately for them though, Kirkland earns a free-kick when he is fouled by Argentinian Ulloa much to the home fans frustration. Speaking of the home fans, they are out in number - even for a Tuesday evening game against lower opposition. The Wednesday fans themselves have also provided a good turnout for the distance travelled - a reportedly 1100 Owls have made their way to the Amex Stadium.

Wednesday captain Reda Johnson.
The 30th minute sees another chance go begging for The Seagulls, Bruno finds former Norwich City midfielder Crofts in space and the Welshman fires a low shot towards the bottom corner which Kirkland saves. Moments later and Lua Lua is guilty of wasting another chance - firing wide following a David Lopez free-kick. A foul by Keith Andrews gives Wednesday a rare glimpse of goal as Buxton's set-piece is delivered into the box and Reda Johnson heads straight at Brighton keeper Tomasz Kuszczak. The home side keep pressing though and Ulloa sees another chance go begging when his shot is blocked following a good pass by Lua Lua.

The referee shows his first yellow of the match when Andrews upends Semedo in the Wednesday half and the Portuguese midfielder also picks up a booking seconds later. The travelling Owls fans do have reason to celebrate moments later - Jeremy Helan finds loanee Matty Fryatt in the box and his neat swivel opens up space for a low driven shot that beats the keeper to give Wednesday the lead in the 42nd minute - totally against the grain of the match so far. After Lua Lua again fires wide and Gordon Greer heads a Lopez cross that Kirkland saves, the referee brings the half to a close.

HT REVIEW: After Wednesday totally dominated Doncaster on Saturday but eventually lost, I can imagine just how the Brighton fans feel at half-time. Nobody in the home support would have expected to be 0-1 down going into the interval - and going by the flow of the game, neither would the away end either. The Owls are once again indebted to Kirkland as the keeper continues his fine form and has so far repelled all that Brighton have had to throw at him. A half-time snack of some Rice Pudding (with a dollop of jam!) and I'm ready for a long second half as Wednesday look to cling on to their lead.

SWFC's Miguel Llera.
Brighton boss Oscar Garcia replaces Calderon with Will Buckley at the interval and within 25 seconds of the restart, he earns a free-kick following a foul by Semedo. That set-piece leads to a corner when Roger Johnson blocks a cross attempt and Crofts is on the end of the corner - firing his shot into the legs of a Wednesday defender. The Owls break and a neat pass by Fryatt finds Giles Coke who fires a shot inches wide of the post from outside of the box. After 55 minutes Ulloa's evening is over, replaced by Kemy Agustien following an injury. A minute later Miguel Llera is shown a yellow card for a different foul and Lua Lua finds Stephen Ward with the set-piece only for the Wolves loanee to see his shot blocked.

Ashley Barnes replaces Lopez in the 57th minute and three minutes later Brighton squander yet another chance. Agustien's cross is met by Barnes whose left-footed drive flies wide of the post as the Wednesday fans keep their fingers crossed for a rare clean sheet. A hand-ball by Helan allows the break in play to welcome Jermaine Johnson to the field - replacing Coke in the 66th minute. As The Seagulls break again, Crofts finds Agustien with a cross but the former Swansea City man finds Kirkland in the way yet again.

The Wednesday keeper picks up a booking for time-wasting with 20 minutes to go and four minutes later Buxton concedes a corner. Lua Lua crosses the ball and Keith Andrews' right-footed shot from the centre of the box goes close but wide. Former Newcastle United player Lua Lua has been heavily involved in the match and in the 75th minute he is again - this time entering the referees notebook and being shown a yellow card for a foul on J.Johnson. He is quickly followed into the book by Buxton for a foul on Buckley as the game becomes frantic.

Brighton snatch a late leveller.
Goalscorer Fryatt is replaced on the 77th minute by Liam Palmer and Wednesday come very close to doubling their lead just after. Helan sees Kuszczak save his shot saved following good direct play by Antonio. An 83rd minute corner to Brighton, conceded by J.Johnson, is wasted by Lua Lua who launches a shot high and wide following Ward's cross and Wednesday fans are dreaming of their first win of the season. Rhys McCabe gets a rare outing for Wednesday as he replaces McPhail with three minutes to go and barely 90 seconds later the away fans heads drop. A cross to the back post is headed back into the danger area by Ward and creeping in at the back post is Andrews - on hand to prod the ball home and level the scores.

The goal was nothing more than what Brighton deserve after dominating the game but it makes it no easier to swallow for the Sheffield Wednesday fans. A yellow card to Barnes for a foul on Buxton comes just before Wednesday almost snatch the win. Semedo finds J.Johnson and the winger fires his shot high and wide before Palmer finds the Jamaican winger moments later, only for the fans favourite to see his shot saved by Kuszczak. The last chance of the match again falls to the away side, Roger Johnson heads down to Antonio whose left-footed drive from outside of the box is again saved by the Polish goalkeeper.

Statistics: (home / away)
Shots: 14 / 7
On target: 4 / 5
Corners: 5 / 2
Fouls: 17 / 13
Possession: 64% / 36%

FT REVIEW: As sickening as conceding a very late equaliser is, on the balance of play a point is a fair result for Wednesday. Brighton will have been expecting an easy ride against the Owls and twitter confirms it - predictions of a 3-0, 4-0 and 4-1 hammering were frequent. Brighton are a good side and for Wednesday to get a point at the Amex makes it a successful evening. On to Ipswich... the first win of the season for the Owls?

Owls Man of the Match: Chris Kirkland (the new 'Mr Consistent'?)

Managers reaction:
Oscar Garcia, Brighton manager.
Dave Jones: "I'm frustrated because one lapse in concentration in the whole 95 minutes has cost us. They weren't hurting us - they'd become desperate and if we'd kept our concentration that little bit longer we'd have taken all the points. We're getting better and moving in the right direction - the last two games we should have taken six points. We just have too many player playing who need to get fit, most of them are running on memory."

Oscar Garcia: "When you have clear chances to score - you cannot say we were lucky to get a point. They had one half-chance and scored. We needed seven chances just to score one, because they took their half-chance it made it difficult for us - you're chasing the game. Ulloa looks like its a stress fracture, we need him back as soon as possible."


Read 4455 times