Sheffield Wednesday: Winning start bodes well for Owls

Owls boss Stuart Gray

Owls boss Stuart Gray

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As pre-season workouts go, Sheffield Wednesday got pretty much everything they could have wanted out of the trip to York City.

Nearly 2,000 fans travelled to Bootham Crescent as Owls kicked off their summer friendlies with a comfortable victory following an own goal by Keith Lowe and a stunning long range strike by Chris Maguire.

Owls Jose Semedo

Owls Jose Semedo

There were plenty of reasons for Wednesday head coach Stuart Gray to be cheerful. He gave twenty two players match time in hot, sticky conditions, including French trialist Achille Campion, saw his side score two good goals in the first half and watched a makeshift defence keep a clean sheet.

Gray said: “People say it is only pre-season but, any game I take part in, I like to win. I was pleased with the way we moved the ball around at York and passed it through the thirds. When we got the ball into the forwards, we had good movement.

“It was a good workout and it’s always nice to keep a clean sheet. Pre-season is about getting the fitness in and getting the running in especially on a hot day.”

Sam Hutchinson, signed on a free transfer less than a week ago following a productive loan spell at Hillsborough last season, delivered an assured display alongside Joe Mattock at the heart of Wednesday’s rearguard in the first half.

Owls trailist Achille Campion

Owls trailist Achille Campion

Gray said: “Sam showed his qualities today. He showed his reading of the game and ability to pick out the pass. Sam’s got a good football brain and can play in several positions. He’s got quality and all we need to do is keep him fit.”

In the opening 45 minutes, Gray paired Campion with Madine up front and the duo wasted glorious chances to get their names on the score-sheet following the Owls’ opener. Campion has trained with Wednesday throughout pre-season. A contact recommended the 24-year-old to Gray.

“Achille is a boy who comes from France and then he played college football in America,” Gray said. “It was a good opportunity for us to have a look at him.

“I thought he had a couple of good chances to score and he will be disappointed he didn’t hit the target with them.

“He’s been with us two weeks now, his ball retention was good today and I thought he and Gary Madine did well.”

York offered little as an attacking force, although they did register the first shot on target, Michael Coulson turned sharply on the edge of the area but his right foot curler went straight into the arms of Chris Kirkland.

Wednesday opened the scoring in the 26th minute after Jacques Maghoma had been unceremoniously brought down near the byline by Marvin McCoy and Lowe turned turned in Maguire’s resulting free kick. Initially the goal was credited to Femi Ilesanmi but officials later confirmed that it was Lowe who headed into his own net.

Two minutes before the break, Maguire unleashed a fierce right foot from 30 yards which flew past Mooney.

“I’m a great believer that if you get an opportunity to shoot, then take it, and Chris doesn’t need any encouragement,” said Gray. “It wasn an unbelievable goal.

“We know he’s got that in his locker and he will be buzzing from that.”

Wednesday should have added to their tally after the re-start but substitutes Caolan Lavery, Michail Antonio and Atdhe Nuhiu all missed presentable chances to make the margin of victory more emphatic.

“I’m disappointed, for confidence reasons, we didn’t get more goals,” he said.

The warm-up match was a stark reminder of the lack of options Gray currently possesses at centre-half. Fresh from signing a new one-year deal, fans favourite Jose Semedo filled in in that position in the second period.

“At the moment, we haven’t got enough players,” said Gray, who is looking to bring in another centre-half despite persuading Glenn Loovens to re-sign yesterday.

York City boss Nigel Worthington heaped praise on his former club for fielding a competitive side.

He said: “It was very hot and we played against a Sheffield Wednesday team who showed their Championship class at times, so it was a very good workout and great for fitness. The turnout from Sheffield was fantastic for a pre-season friendly. It is pretty much like us when we go away – they turn out in force.”

Sterner tests lie ahead for the Owls but this friendly gives Gray a decent platform to build on.

York: Mooney (Ingham HT), McCoy (Morley 81), Lowe, McCombe, Ilesanmi, Meikle (Summerfield HT), Penn (Montrose HT), Platt, Straker (Murray 69), Hyde (Rzonka 77), Coulson (Jarvis HT). Subs: not used: Hirst.

Wednesday: Kirkland (Wildsmith (60), Palmer (Lee HT), Helan (Floro 60), Hutchinson (McCabe HT), Mattock (Young 82), Semedo (Sanders 75), Coke (Corry 69), Campion (Lavery HT), Madine (Nuhiu HT), Maguire (Antonio HT), Maghoma (Stobbs 60).

Attendance: 3,312 (1,993)