SHEFFIELD Wednesday have uncovered a new weapon in their armoury – the ‘Ben Marshall throw’.
Marshall is on loan from Stoke City but, surprisingly, has never had a lesson in throwing from Rory Delap – the most dangerous purveyor of the art.
Delap has been terrorising Premier League defenders for the last three years with his ability to launch a ball from the touchline to the far post.
Now Marshall is planning to copy Delap in League One – if only Owls manager Gary Megson will let him.
Megson was as surprised as anyone when the young winger revealed the hidden talent in a training session two weeks ago. It was immediately put to use in the victory at Hartlepool United – bringing a goal for defender Reda Johnson.
Megson, however, does not want his side to rely too heavily on the tactic.
“It gives us another dimension but I don’t want to be a team that just does that all the time,” he said. “We don’t want to be launching it from long throws every time we get within 20 yards of goal.
“It will be much better if it can be done quickly, so the opposition are not ready to defend it.”
Marshall, 20, started his career as a schoolboy at Manchester United and Crewe Alexandra before signing professional forms at Stoke two years ago.
He has yet to play for the Potters and his current deal is due to expire at the end of this season.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Post ahead of today’s home game with Chesterfield, Marshall admitted that his career reached a crossroads six months ago when he suffered a horrific injury at Wembley.
On loan at Carlisle United, Marshall broke a leg and dislocated an ankle in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final against Brentford.
The Owls took a gamble on his fitness by agreeing a six-month loan deal with Stoke at the start of the season.
So far, it has definitely proved a gamble well worth taking.
A regular in the side, Marshall has helped the Owls climb to fourth in League One, winning four of their last five games. Another win today would set things up nicely for the first Steel City derby of the season at Bramall Lane next weekend.
“If we can go into the derby on the back of four consecutive wins it will be great for confidence,” said Marshall, a Salford-born Manchester United supporter. “But for now, we have got to focus completely on this weekend’s game.
“I have never had the experience of playing in a derby game but I have watched plenty of them in Manchester,” he added. “I have seen the Sheffield derby on TV and I’m really looking forward it.”
Marshall is unclear about his future at Stoke but would be interested in extending his deal with the Owls until the end of the season.
His performances down the flanks have already caught the eye – even without the addition of the throws.
“I wouldn’t say that I can throw the ball as far as Rory Delap – he’s one in a million at doing that – but I have watched him in training, I have given it a go, and it’s paid off,” he said.
“I was just messing about in training the other week and the gaffer said ‘we can use that.’ We scored from it last weekend and I am going to keep throwing them in there. It’s a bit like a corner and, hopefully, we can benefit from it.”
Detailing his injury, Marshall said: “It was pretty nasty. I broke my tibia, dislocated my ankle, and ripped several ligaments. All sorts of things went through my mind. Maybe I wouldn’t play again? I just had to work hard and keep faith. The doctors said it was going to take five months to get back on the field but I worked hard over the summer and I was back playing again after three. Now I feel fine.”
Marshall spent the whole of last season at Carlisle and has also played on loan for Cheltenham and Northampton Town.
“You have to bide your time at a club like Stoke. You have to look at the players who are in front of you – players like Jermaine Pennant who have won European Cup medals. It’s my last year at Stoke and, yes, I am playing for my future. But I’m getting minutes on the pitch at Wednesday and a lot of experience playing in front of big crowds which is benefitting me.
“I have had a chat with Tony Pulis (Stoke’s manager) and he just wants me to get game time rather than sitting on the bench. The way he was talking I will hopefully be in his future plans. You just have to keep working hard and see what happens.”
Chesterfield manager John Sheridan will put love for the Owls to one side today. Sheridan scored the goal that gave the Owls victory over Manchester United in the League Cup 20 years ago and is a cult figure at Hillsborough. Former Owls strikers Leon Clarke and Drew Talbot are also with the visitors.
Last six games: Sheff Weds DWLWWW, Chesterfield WWWLLW.
Last time: Sheff Weds 2 Chesterfield 2; October 6, 2010; JP Trophy.
Referee: KK Wright (Cambridgeshire).