Dom Howson's Sheffield Wednesday column: Lucky breaks have gone Owls' way

It takes a lot for Carlos Carvalhal to lose his cool.

Friday, 20th January 2017, 5:00 am
Carlos Carvalhal

But the Owls chief could not contain his anger after Wednesday’s controversial defeat to Derby County at the end of October.

Carvalhal justifiably felt aggrieved after referee James Linington failed to award them an early penalty after Rams centre-back Richard Keogh blatantly handled Adam Reach’s shot on the line. It was a refereeing howler at a pivotal moment.

Carvalhal bemoaned their bad luck.

“Keogh made a great save without his gloves on,” joked Derby boss Steve McClaren. Carvalhal condemned the decision, describing it as “very, very poor” and the “worst” he had seen in the second-tier up to that point. As a team, you just hope those calls don’t come back to bite you in the end.

No one should ever underestimate the value of luck in sport.

And since the trip to the Pride Park, Lady Luck has smiled on Wednesday. The rub of the green has largely gone their way.

Some people will argue that you create your own luck and it is true Wednesday’s results and performances have markedly improved since back-to-back losses to Derby County and Ipswich Town. They have only lost one of their last 10 outings. That level of consistency is no fluke.

But there can be no disputing that the Owls have rode their luck on occasions. Preston North End could quite easily have snatched a point at Hillsborough had strikers Jermaine Beckford and Eoin Doyle stayed on the pitch. The duo squared up to each other late on after Doyle elected not to pass to Beckford, fought one another and were both sent off.

We have seen a crazy run of red cards at S6. Four out of the last five teams who have visited Hillsborough have had at least one player dismissed.

Against Rotherham United, several key decisions went Wednesday’s way. The basement battlers had a perfectly good goal disallowed in the first half. Had Tom Adeyemi’s effort stood, it could have been a long old afternoon for Carvalhal’s side.

You still have to be good enough to take advantage of good fortune and Lucas Joao won the Owls a penalty in added on time after being brought down by Richard Wood, who, for me, was harshly red carded. Steven Fletcher kept his nerve to rifle in the spot-kick and maintain their upward momentum.

Wednesday were lucky to pick up two points over the New Year period against Preston and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Preston should have been out of sight before Adam Reach’s late intervention while Wolves created the better chances and were denied a stonewall penalty.

It is often said that luck evens itself out over the course of the season. It is a well-worn, debatable cliche, but the Owls have had their fair share of good fortune of late.