The defensive dilemma which is hurting Sheffield Wednesday

If Sheffield Wednesday are to salvage their season then manager Darren Moore has to plug his leaking defence.

Sheffield Wednesday manager Darren Moore. Picture: PA
Sheffield Wednesday manager Darren Moore. Picture: PA

Employing three centre-backs – when you have only one fully fit, in Sam Hutchinson – is a dangerous tactic and again proved Wednesday’s undoing in their 3-2 defeat at Oxford.

Twice the Owls took the lead, thanks to goals from Barry Bannan and Josh Windass, but Oxford capitalised on mistakes at the back – to equalise through Matty Taylor’s brace.

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Former Owl Sam Winnall headed in a late winner, meaning Moore – forced to play Liam Palmer and Marvin Johnson out of position in the back three, and leave them exposed in aerial battles – has now seen his side concede 11 goals in their last four outings, and slipped six points adrift of the play-offs.

New signing Jordan Storey, the centre-half brought in from Preston on loan was an unused substitute at Oxford, and Moore is in the market for another defender – with Chey Dunkley, Dominic Iorfa and Lewis Gibson all injured – before the window closes.

Defeat at Oxford was harsh for the Owls – who should have had a penalty for a foul on Jack Hunt – but they were punished for defensive lapses and not taking their own, arguably easier, chances.

Moore said: “The thing I’m most bitterly disappointed with is that the three goals are avoidable. We have to cut them out from now on if we are to do anything in the league come the end of the season.”

Oxford United: Stevens, Long, Moore (McNally 46), Thorniley (Mousinho 87), Seddon, Brannagan, McGuane, Sykes, Bodin, Holland (Winnall 74), Taylor. Unused substitutes: Eastwood, Forde, Agyei.

Sheffield Wednesday: Peacock-Farrell, Palmer, Hutchinson, Johnson, Hunt, Dele-Bashiru (Paterson 87), Luongo, Bannan, Mendez-Laing (Brown 76), Gregory, Sow (Windass 59). Unused substitutes: Byers, Berahino, Wildsmith, Storey.

Referee: W Finnie (Cambridgeshire).