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Huddersfield Town v Sheffield Wednesday: Experience of final heartache should give Owls crucial edge, says Barry Bannan

DETERMINATION: Sheffield Wednesday's Barry Bannan. Picture: Steve Ellis
DETERMINATION: Sheffield Wednesday's Barry Bannan. Picture: Steve Ellis
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DELVE into recent Championship promotion history and it will show that hardened, street-wise teams usually rule the roost ahead of swash-buckling sides full of panache and swagger.

For this season’s top two of Newcastle United and Brighton, read elements of Burnley and Middlesbrough in 2015-16. Sides whose organisational skills were manifest and where the team collective was strong with an innate ability to usually get the job done in whatever the circumstances or territory.

Other recent successful examples include Burnley and QPR in 2013-14 and Cardiff and Hull City in the campaign before that. Think Sam Allardyce’s West Ham class of 2011-12 too – another team with a pragmatic edge where results came first.

A bit of an anomaly may have arrived in 2014-15 when Bournemouth and Watford blew away most teams en route to promotion and Norwich City to a slightly lesser extent.

But functional teams laced with quality in the right areas have generally been the ones to prosper of late, with that tag being one that would happily sit well with Sheffield Wednesday if they prevail later this month.

The Owls have not been particularly pleasing on the eye over the course of the piece in 2016-17. But their consistency in terms of results has been commendable, with their recent run of six successive victories representing the mark of a well-conditioned Championship stayer.

DISMAY: Sheffield Wednesday's Fernando Forestieri and Tom Lees after last season's play-off final defeat to Hull City. Picture: Steve Ellis.

DISMAY: Sheffield Wednesday's Fernando Forestieri and Tom Lees after last season's play-off final defeat to Hull City. Picture: Steve Ellis.

Key Wednesday midfielder Barry Bannan certainly thinks so, with he and his team-mates having wised up in a season when the motivation to erase memories of a haunting play-off final loss to Hull City at the end of last season has always been close at hand.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s play-off semi-final first-leg at John Smith’s Stadium, Bannan said: “We will look forward to the game and come into the play-offs in great confidence in winning a lot of games.

“I feel we are more experienced and harder to beat this season. Last season, we were naive and attacked a bit too much really and were caught. This season, we are a lot more solid and know how to win games better.

“We don’t look back, but forward. We have given ourselves a great chance to avenge what happened last year by getting back in the play-offs and that is what we will be looking to do.

We are more experienced and harder to beat this season. Last season, we were naive and attacked a bit too much really and were caught.

Sheffield Wednesday’s Barry Bannan

“Last season will always haunt us until we get back to the Premier League and hopefully we can back there this season and get that out of heads.”

The recent tide of history may be on the Owls side when it comes to their vital statistics against Huddersfield, who have lost their last four matches to their South Yorkshire rivals and are without a win in their past seven encounters.

Bannan himself is too canny to read too much into that at the business end of the season, with a new campaign to effectively begin, with the fact that the Owls recorded a double over Town in the regular season not holding too much water with the Scot.

He said: “We have won both games against them. But Huddersfield are a solid team who have rested players in the last couple of weeks, looking forward to the play-offs and they will have people coming back fresh. It will be a good game, but one we are confident of winning.

Sheffield Wednesday's Barry Bannan (left) and Hull City's Robert Snodgrass battle for the ball at Wembley last season. Picture: Nigel French/PA.

Sheffield Wednesday's Barry Bannan (left) and Hull City's Robert Snodgrass battle for the ball at Wembley last season. Picture: Nigel French/PA.

“To be honest, we were not really bothered who we got in the play-offs. You have to beat the best to get there anyway. We are confident of beating anyone. No matter what team we draw, we would have been happy.”

Wednesday may not have been too concerned with their play-off opponents, but having the second leg at Hillsborough on Wednesday is certainly not being discounted as a potentially key factor according to Bannan in terms of significance.

Admitting it could give the Owls an advantage, he added: “I think so, with the crowd we have got. But it will be tough going to their place and a tough game.

“But having the second leg here will be good, as long as we can stay in the game and get a result at their place. If we return here with that, we will have a great chance.”