Tuesday night’s South Yorkshire derby will be remembered more for a mass melee than the football itself, as Richard Sutcliffe reports.
AS THE dust settled on a derby that had been a slow burner for so long before sparking into life and ending amid confrontation and confusion following a flurry of dismissals, Sheffield Wednesday had good reason to be satisfied.
Victory over a neighbour is always enjoyable but what surely made Tuesday night’s 2-0 win over Barnsley that bit sweeter was that the Owls had been far from at their best but dug out the result anyway.
That has not always been the case this season. In fact, Carlos Carvalhal’s side have developed a costly trait of dominating games only to fail to press home that advantage in front of goal and pay the price when the opposition finally get their act together.
Last Saturday’s defeat at promotion rivals Reading was just the latest of several ‘what if?’ outings for Wednesday so the Barnsley triumph made a nice change, according to Ross Wallace.
“We weren’t at full throttle but dug in,” said the Scot, whose arrival in the 55th minute from the bench came with Wednesday not having managed so much as a shot on target of their own with the opening goal having come via the outstretched boot of Reds defender Angus McDonald.
“Some games you are not at it but you have to learn how to win those games. We did that against Barnsley by digging in and getting the goals at the right time.
“There have been times when we have been on top this season but then lost a goal so getting the second goal was nice, as we haven’t always done that.”
Wednesday’s derby triumph meant a return to the play-off places on Tuesday night. That, though, wasn’t the main talking point as supporters headed into the Sheffield night with the 82nd-minute clash between Adam Hammill and Sam Hutchinson dominating debate.
Hammill had been shown a red card for a two-footed challenge on Hutchinson, who in the immediate aftermath looked to have been sent off rather than the Liverpudlian.
Referee Peter Bankes then dismissed both Paul Heckingbottom and Owls assistant Lee Bullen from the touchline after the two coaching staffs had become embroiled in a melee every bit as chaotic as that involving the two sets of players on the field.
The Reds manager had taken exception to several of the Wednesday staff invading the away technical area in the moments that followed Hutchinson and Hammill’s clash.
On the game itself, however, Heckingbottom admitted to feeling pride among the obligatory dejection at losing a derby.
“I am disappointed with the result obviously,” he said. “But I am satisfied with the performance and the application of the players.
“I thought we were good from the first to the last minute and kept our discipline at the end when no one knew what was going off.”
As Barnsley head to Cardiff City this weekend, Wednesday are again in derby action as Rotherham United make the short trip to Hillsborough in the last round of fixtures before Christmas.
Wallace said: “Derbies are always different to any others. We will have to be at it to get three points. We need to focus on doing our jobs.
“We can’t look at Newcastle (away on Boxing Day) because this is the only fixture in our heads. I appreciate fans probably can’t think like that. They look ahead but, as players and staff, it is impossible to look beyond the next game.”