Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sheff Weds preview

The euphoric feelings that emerged from Friday's vital win over Palace were short-lived, because just a few hours later I was pacing a hospital waiting area whilst my 11-month old son was treated for what thankfully turned out to just be a rather acute case of croup.

Whilst the episode certainly returned some much needed perspective to my life at least, hopefully Pards will have been able to swiftly generate the same sentiments amongst his squad because Tuesday's game is no less vital.

The other results on Saturday did not particularly go our way, but the mere fact that Watford have returned to the summit despite winning just 3 of their last 9, surely proves the title really is there for the taking.

I attended the reverse fixture with Wednesday back in August, and our second-half performance was enough for me to suggest we could win the Championship by ten points, if only we maintained such form.

On that occasion, the crocked Svetoslav Todorov was at the epicentre of much that was good about our attacking play, and it has perhaps taken until now for Pards to find a suitable replacement in Andy Gray, a fellow hold-up merchant who can bring others into the game. Indeed Pards himself has implied as much, and the team has a really nice balance about it now, reflected in three consecutive home wins.

The Owls have had an indifferent season, woefully inconsistent and the most regularly beaten team in the division (17 out of 30). Only their lack of draws (just 4 out of 30) has ensured they are not holding up the division, but instead lie in 22nd. Their 8 defeats at home meanwhile is also an unbreached and unwelcome record, and one we must look to add to on Tuesday.

The mere mention of Hillsborough inevitably conjours up tragic images of the events of 1989, but it is genuinely one of the most striking grounds in the country, and one of the few large ones left that retains some old-style charm. I was there during our last Premiership visit in 1998, and any performance similar to that one would ensure another Scunthorpe-esque defeat, because we were truly awful. Thankfully those fans that attended our FA Cup tie there in 2006 will have fonder memories.

However, given that the stadium holds nearly 40,000, but will likely be barely half-full tomorrow night, the lack of atmosphere ought to play into our hands given that we have generally struggled this season playing in tight-knit smaller stadiums (Colchester, Scunthorpe, Luton).

There would appear to be little reason to change Friday's winning line-up, with eyewitness reports suggesting that only Darren Ambrose and Lloyd Sam had delivered anything less than first-class performances. Meanwhile, let's hope Luke Varney can build upon the confidence engendered by his timely brace on Friday; his attitude is exemplary, and to be fair his scoring record is reasonable given the stop-start nature of his season.

NY Addick predicts: Sheff Weds 0, Charlton 1 (Gray). Att: 20, 791.


At 12:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best wishes to your son and you NYA. The joys of fatherhood, eh!



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