CONDUCT an online video search for goals from Adam Reach and you will struggle to find a bad one.
The Sheffield Wednesday midfielder has made a habit of scoring spectacular long-range efforts such as last season’s 40-yard volley at Aston Villa, or the looping strike from distance against Leeds United at Hillsborough testify.
His left foot had become a lethal weapon in the Championship, as Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion will concur, after being victims of Reach’s long-range bullets.
The 26-year-old - who joined the Owls from Middlesbrough for £5m in 2016 - scored nine goals last term.
Seven came before Christmas, but fast-forward 12 months and Reach has struggled to find the net.
His solitary goal this season came in the 4-1 win at Boro in September, and you have to go back nine months - to February 23 - for Reach’s last goal at Hillsborough.
While his game is far more than goals - he is a regular creator and full of unselfish running and work-rate - Owls manager Garry Monk dropped Reach to the bench last time in a 2-2 draw with Swansea City.
His failure to replicate last season’s goals return has certainly opened the door for the critics.
But there are several mitigating factors such as the majority of his goals coming under former chief Joss Luhukay, who employed a different style of play which offered Reach more licence to go forward.
Now Reach is grafting for the team, and Owls midfielder Barry Bannan has jumped to his defence.
“I think he gets a lot of bad criticism,” said the Scottish international. “A lot of people forget you are not going to be 100 per cent every game, and scoring.
“Adam scored a lot of unbelievable goals last season, which most players wouldn’t be able to do.
“He’s not going to be like that every game, or he wouldn’t be here, he would be somewhere else.
“A lot of people forget about his work rate and what he does off the ball. He is a wise head, has a lot of experience.
“He gets bad press, but that’s probably because he was scoring all these ‘worldie’ goals last season. There’s not many players capable of scoring all those goals he scored. We appreciate him as a team-mate, and in the changing room.”
Reach came off the bench against Swansea with 14 minutes remaining, and helped turn a 1-0 goal deficit into a 2-1 lead, before a stoppage-time equaliser denied Wednesday maximum points.
Bannan added: “The gaffer wanted a change, but when Adam came on he had an assist in the first goal, and made an impact on the game. That will be good for his confidence.”
Reach is an integral part of Wednesday’s team and a key figure at set-pieces.
Monk has worked hard on set-piece routines on the training ground, with the Owls looking to improve their goals return from corners and free-kicks.
At Blackburn Rovers, Wednesday had 13 corners but struggled to create any clear-cut chances.
But against the Swans, the Owls looked for more inventive and Jacob Murphy came close to scoring after being picked out on the edge of the area from an early corner.
It was ironic then, that the visitors’ two goals that day came corners, netted by Andre Ayew and Ben Wilmot.
“We work hard on set-pieces, both offensively and defensively, although it probably didn’t look like that (against Swansea),” said Bannan.
“The gaffer is big on set-pieces, and the early one where Murphy had a shot was one we had worked on. That’s why it is even more upsetting, because we worked on it the day before. It’s annoying, but you can work on set-pieces every day and it’s not going to guarantee a clean sheet.
“The positive is we have good opportunities ourselves from set-pieces, they are big in this league, and that shows because Swansea got a point from them. They shouldn’t have had any points, but two set-pieces got them a point.”
Eighth-placed Wednesday return to Championship action after the international break, with a visit to leaders West Bromwich on Saturday.
Midfielder Sam Hutchinson (calf) and defender Julian Borner (illness) missed the Swans game, but are set to figure against the Baggies.