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Match Report: City low on quality high on mistakes at Hillsborough


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[Sorry this is so late, thanks exclusively to East Midlands Trains new cattle class service]

 

City’s play off bid stuttered further as they completed a disappointing Easter period by crashing 2-0 in a poor game at Sheffield Wednesday - the visitors punished for an error-strewn display despite dominating long spells of possession.

Until now it’s largely been a feature of away performances that City have kept things tight, a strategy that relies on making far fewer mistakes than their opponents, then finding that one moment of quality to come away with all 3 points.

But the trick of having one more moment of quality than you have made mistakes, was rendered impossible by a catalogue of scrappy errors. Repeatedly caught in possession, over-hitting and under-hitting passes, crosses and corners.

Wednesday weren’t a particularly impressive side and had plenty of miscues of their own, but they moved the ball quickly out of midfield with quality City lacked - where by comparison Brownhill, and Pack in particular, had a woeful time.

Only Diedhiou could take any real credit from the game, again imperious in his hold up play - aided by the impressive Palmer from the bench. But they are exceptions where by contrast teammates picked the wrong touch time and again.

All too often Wednesday took advantage. We had our first warning in the 3rd minute as Gary Hooper put a free header over the bar at close range. Minutes later Lucas Joao skipped over a tackle and saw his low curling shot tipped away.

City hit back as Webster, in his midfield role, intercepted the ball, raced upfield, and fed in Weimann from the right. But the Austrian was caught in two minds and his cross-shot found neither Diedhiou, the onrushing Webster or the target.

The away side were struggling to build with any quality and certainly with little shape, Eliasson drifting centrally, often to positions where he could not cross or would get caught in possession. City’s forwards played largely as individuals.

On 17 minutes Wednesday went in front. The influential Barry Bannon had just put a tame free-kick straight at Max O’Leary, but from Hooper’s knock down he unleashed a rising 30 yard shot which flashed past O’Leary and under the bar.

It took 10 minutes more for City to respond with any fluency - Weimann switching play across to Dasilva, who drove towards the Wednesday box, exchanging passes with Diedhiou to go clear through, only to slip his finish wide of the post.

City were finally building a spell of pressure and Diedhiou got in behind the home defence to win a corner, but too often the visitors wasted good positions with poor passing or decision making, Pack most guilty of squandering possession.

And City would pay for their carelessness as against the run of play Bannon’s quick thinking long pass put Joao in behind City’s defence, and the Wednesday striker held off Kalas to lob casually over O’Leary for a smash and grab second.

Before the break the tireless Dasilva would hit the angle of crossbar and post with a deep cross, and Weimann, so often playing head down charging direct for goal, would go through the middle but see his shot comfortably blocked away.

After the interval Weimann’s nod on was easily claimed from Webster’s flick on, and then Eliasson lost and recovered possession, laying off to Weimann who raced across the edge of the area before hitting a low reverse back past the post.

But despite City’s possession, Wednesday were more fluent on the break and Joao again found space in the visitors backline, hitting a 30 yard missile on the run that flew just over O’Leary’s goal. City had seen enough and threw on Palmer.

The away side rallied and Webster headed over at a corner, before brilliant interplay saw Eliasson and Brownhill thread diagonals behind the Owls, but from Eliasson’s cross Palmer and Diedhiou bundled in at the far post to concede a foul.

Where Pack and Brownhill had looked ponderous and careless in midfield, Palmer was making a significant difference, and he would go on a storming run from the halfway line, feeding Eliasson, who found Dasilva but his cross was cut out.

This was typical for a City side that repeatedly squandered crosses and set pieces. No more so than when Hunt gave the ball away cheaply at a City free kick and Wednesday broke down the left to cross, but their far post finish was denied.

With City youngster Semenyo on, Palmer teed up Pack who sliced a wild 30 yard shot high and wide, and then Palmer did brilliantly to feed Diedhiou who tried to play in Semenyo, the ball overrunning to Weimann who cut in to fire well over.

City’s chance of the day came with 10 to go as O’Leary’s goal kick dropped invitingly behind the defence and Diedhiou’s shot was beaten away, Palmer collecting the rebound to square to wide open Brownhill who shot straight at the keeper.

Before the end more brilliant hold up from Diedhiou - City’s stand out performer - was again wasted as Pack gave the ball away and Wednesday broke to win a corner. In injury time Kalas header was easily saved from Dasilva’s deep cross.

In the end although City dominated possession and showed flashes of endeavour, there was little quality in their supply to forward players, and despite the Hillsborough width, City’s midfield dwelt in possession and made little use of space.

On their day City have shown they’re a match for anyone in this division, but it is a concern that central midfielders who are at times influential, can look so flawed and fallible on other days - it raises questions about our quality in this role.

The side’s play-off fate is still in their own hands, but recent adjustments - breaking the Kalas/Webster backline after West Brom success and cycling Eliasson in and out of the side - may have robbed us of our composure and consistency. 


O’Leary 6 Distribution is good, but never looks fully set from distance, and will have wanted to get closer to Bannon’s strike 
Hunt 5 Looked up for it but crosses were woeful second half and like many of them wasted possession in good positions
Dasilva 7 Worked tirelessly at both ends of the pitch, should have scored his chance but involved in much of what went well
Kalas 6 Didn’t really get to grips with Lucas Joao or deep fast balls forward but hardly overworked as Wednesday were average
Wright 6 Ditto Kalas, also sacrificed early to go more attacking
Webster 6 Some great runs from midfield and one of our few with the quality to travel with the ball, which helps when passing is going nowhere
Pack 4 Two very poor games in a row now, making mistake after mistake - should not have lasted as long as he did today, after Friday especially
Brownhill 5 Not quite as bad as Pack but also had one or two shaky touches and never got hold of midfield the way Palmer did, interplay 
Eliasson 5 Some useful interplay in the second half but largely ineffective and made to look lightweight when coming centrally and losing it
Weimann 6 A legitimate threat but rarely links up with others, only seems to have one thing on his mind - and shooting was off today
Diedhiou 8 Our best player by a mile - hold up play was immaculate and brought others in, unfortunately they routinely then wasted it

Palmer 7 Much more influential than any of our starting midfield, his decision making/thinking isn’t perfect but he’s quicker at least to pick a pass 
Semenyo 5 Nervous, loose touches several times, albeit his presence gave us an added impetus
Walsh 5 Only on the pitch for a few minutes, far too late to have an impact replacing Pack’s futility

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I think the stats show 51/49 possession in favour of Wednesday. I thought they weren’t a bad side, always looking dangerous, and moving forward quickly. We had our moments, but on the whole, pretty wasteful. Think we should go back to the 4-4-2 ish formation that served us well, as Hunt and Da Silva are not great wing backs, and maybe we can get someone playing closer to Fammy. 

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The common theme in games where we don't play well is the form of Pack and to a much lesser extent Brownhill. As many on here have stated, we need alternatives in midfield, but with Smith and O'Dowda injured, the only options are Palmer and Walsh. I can't see LJ dropping Pack, but in training I would definitely be looking at a 3 man midfield of Brownhill as the holding tackling player, Walsh as the distributor and Palmer as the player to move us forward. Also get Webster back with Kalas in a back 4. He can still come forward with the ball, but their partnership seems more secure than having Wright with Kalas.

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40 minutes ago, YorkshireSection said:

I thought Semenyo was really impressive. He seemed teally bright, looked to have a fair bit of pace, got into some good positions and won the ball by pressing quickly and with great energy.

I've high hopes for the lad, I think we may have a real gem on our hands.

Agreed. OP harsh on Semenyo I think

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Good summary @Olé

I've said elsewhere I don't understand why we've changed our back 4 that's served so well. We did something different against  WBA for a reason, and even then the actual difference was that we found our scoring boots up the other end for the only time this season!

Like Yorkshire I felt Semenyo was a 6 at least; he gave us more of a presence and more urgency. 

Yet another away game where it's the home fans ("what we could do with their big guy up front) who seem to appreciate Diedhiou more than we sometimes do.

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9 hours ago, Chappers said:

I think the stats show 51/49 possession in favour of Wednesday. I thought they weren’t a bad side, always looking dangerous, and moving forward quickly. We had our moments, but on the whole, pretty wasteful. Think we should go back to the 4-4-2 ish formation that served us well, as Hunt and Da Silva are not great wing backs, and maybe we can get someone playing closer to Fammy. 

I watched the stream and when I seen that stat on bbc after, made no sense as we seemed to have a lot more possession, but just wasting it

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11 minutes ago, Roger Red Hat said:

'Keeper?

Maybe. Hadn't thought of that, and seems to have created other problems if that's the case, but you may be right.

Either that, or the need to have B Wright on the team sheet; tho if that's the case there's a RB spot going begging just now!

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23 hours ago, Dr Balls said:

The common theme in games where we don't play well is the form of Pack and to a much lesser extent Brownhill. As many on here have stated, we need alternatives in midfield, but with Smith and O'Dowda injured, the only options are Palmer and Walsh. I can't see LJ dropping Pack, but in training I would definitely be looking at a 3 man midfield of Brownhill as the holding tackling player, Walsh as the distributor and Palmer as the player to move us forward. Also get Webster back with Kalas in a back 4. He can still come forward with the ball, but their partnership seems more secure than having Wright with Kalas.

Not sure that Brownhill at holding  midfield would work. For me we would be very open which gives teams a chance to counter. For West Brom we had Webster as the midfield enforcer maybe we should try something similar against Derby?

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Your report makes our performance sound much better than it was in reality. We were poor; very poor. Sheffield didn't need to do too much to expose our defence on numerous occasions. I'm not sure why our players seem so reluctant to shoot from distance either.

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Thought we weren’t too bad  - watched with a neutral mate who thought we should’ve been decent value for at least a draw on general play: just lacked finishing quality and were not clinical.  Hunt’s crossing was stand-out woeful. And agree Pack looked washed out. Walsh must be wondering what he needs to do to get a game. 

Edited by GoodridgeandGoater
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