Date:Wednesday November 28 2007
Wednesday may have returned to the fast, attacking football we grew to love last season, but it isn't all down to the Owls' front line that this season's turnaround has been so rapid.
Akpo Sodje and Jermaine Johnson have won lots of praise in recent weeks for their attacking abilities, ever present in the 5-0 whooping of Southampton a few weeks back, and rightly so.
But Tuesday night's 1-0 victory over Barnsley saw the Owls' grab another vital first of the season - three clean sheets on the bounce, a sure confidence booster for Lee Grant and his defensive line-up.
The first three games of the season saw Wednesday concede 10 goals in total, four in the opening day 4-1 hammering at Ipswich - a day goalkeeper Lee Grant would rather forget, his performance didn't rub off well on the Owls' faithful in that difficult opening six games.
So who'd have thought that Wednesday would go on to keep three clean sheets on the bounce, and look as strong at the back as they did under Paul Sturrock, with a somewhat makeshift defence.
A lot of the praise has to go at the feet of the experienced Michael Johnson, who arrived at Hillsborough on loan from Derby and helped turn around the Wednesday fortunes instantly - and helped the others around him.
Johnson, deemed not good enough for Derby's squad this season, is somewhat of the 'perfect' Championship defender - experienced, strong, no nonsense, and more importantly a leader for those around him.
A huge question mark was raised over the signing of Richard Hinds at the start of the season, and also a few games in to the season, but again, the former Scunthorpe man is starting to prove his doubters wrong with some fine performances.
Frank Simek speaks for himself, you know what you're going to get from him, and he'd make it in to any Championship team, but youngster Tommy Spurr has taken a fair bit of stick from the Wednesday faithful, but still continues to prove them wrong.
He's a centre-back adapting to life in the Championship at left-back, not exactly the easiest of ways to ply your trade, but has come in and put in some sterling performances, hopefully boosted by the sponsorship from Vital Sheffield Wednesday!
But more importantly, this defence has been pretty much the same defence week in, week out, since the Blackpool game, which incidentally was the start of the Owls six-game unbeaten run.
Captain Lee Bullen is unable to get a place in the Owls' back four, but in the 'Wednesday' programme for the clash with Barnsley, he insists that the current back four deserve to be where they are.
He said: 'I think the clean sheet against Southampton was just as important as the five goals. The guys in the team at the moment fully deserve to be there and there's nothing I can do about that.'
And also in the programme, Owls' number one Lee Grant revealed that he was pleased to finally have a settled defence in front of him as the team look to continue climbing up the table.
'Every goalkeeper feels better when he is playing behind the same defenders, week in, week out. We've had various combinations so far this season mainly due to injuries but I feel we are seeing the benefits of a settled defence more recently,' he said.
The Owls' had kept just two clean sheets previous to the start of their current unbeaten run, and the improvement at the back is there for all to see - the signing of Michael Johnson on a permanant deal in January, and the hope that we don't get any more injuries at the back, could well shape our season.
So cheers to Sodje for the goals, and thanks to JJ for providing the ammuninition, but here's to the Wednesday defence, and hopefully many more sterling performances in the coming weeks...
Date:Wednesday November 28 2007
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