Carvalhal’s crew lack for nothing but energy!

Carlos Carvalhal gives a team talk. Picture: Steve Ellis
Carlos Carvalhal gives a team talk. Picture: Steve Ellis

Pre-season results are of no concern to Carlos Carvalhal - and it is probably just as well after their first outing.

There will no doubt have been a few eyebrows raised by Sheffield Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Alfreton Town, which saw a Sergiu Bus strike cancelled out by the hosts’ Niall Heaton in the second half.

New right-back Jack Hunt

New right-back Jack Hunt

But, ultimately, this first pre-season friendly was never about the result, as Carvalhal previously stated.

For the head coach was taking the chance to see his players in a match environment for the first time. And with almost two entirely different sides in both halves, he had a pretty good look at most of his current squad.

For supporters, it was an opportunity to see the style of play they may be witnessing from the Portuguese next season.

Carvalhal wanted his players to go into the game tired. And ten days’ hard work in the legs showed in both halves as, after bright starts, the energy levels waned.

Ross Wallace makes his debut

Ross Wallace makes his debut

But there was still plenty to take from the game, watched by chairman Dejphon Chansiri.

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In both halves, Carvalhal sent his side out in a fluid 4-3-3 formation. Attacking players - particularly the central forward - would drop deep with members of the midfield three playing box-to-box roles. The outer forwards would start on the wings but move inside as attacks progressed.

Real width came from the full-backs, who hugged the touchline when the Owls were in possession, from a starting position close to the halfway line.

Chairman Dejphon Chansiri watches proceedings

Chairman Dejphon Chansiri watches proceedings

The system was a dynamic one with decent short passing, good running and real attacking intent. A truer reflection of how good Wednesday can be in this system will come when the energy levels of the players are much greater than they were on Saturday.

It is, of course, still a work in progress, with these new ideas and techniques only introduced to the squad over the past week and a half. Carvalhal’s coaching team gave individual instructions on the pitch before each half while sweeping attacking drills were also practised beforehand involving the whole team.

There were first Owls outings for new signings Darryl Lachman, Vincent Sasso, Jack Hunt, Marco Matias and Ross Wallace. Alex Lopez’s late arrival from Celta Vigo saw him left out. Keiren Westwood and Stevie May sat out with slight knocks but are expected to be back in training soon.

The first period saw a front three of Atdhe Nuhiu, Caolan Lavery and Ryan Meadows, the latter of which regularly dropped deep from his central position.

Owls new boy Vincent Sasso

Owls new boy Vincent Sasso

Meadows and fellow Development Squad regular Ryan Croasdale - who played in the second half - turned in particularly impressive performances, packed with real energy. It is clear neither want to get lost among the shuffle this season.

Chances of note were scant in the first half but Wednesday probably should have been in front inside the first minute.

Liam Palmer sent over a tantalising cross from close to the byline which Nuhiu met, only to send in a tame header which was easiy claimed by Reds keeper Nick Draper.

There was a little too much on a Claude Dielna cross which evaded Nuhiu and bounced just past the far post while Lavery curled over a free kick from the very edge of the box.

The big talking point of the first half was an injury to Glenn Loovens after a hefty tackle. It forced him off after half an hour, replaced by Sasso, but Carvalhal was not too concerned after the game.

Of the first-half team, only Kieran Lee and substitute Sasso returned for the second half.

And it took just three minutes for the Owls to take the lead. Possession was regained in the middle of the park and Croasdale sent a well-weighted pass which had Matias scarpering clear. After drawing out the keeper, Matias squared to Bus who tapped into an empty net.

Wednesday had more attacking threat in the second period. Hunt drilled over after a darting run while Lee struck a tame effort at the keeper following a Sam Hutchinon pass.

Croasdale forced a fine save from Draper with a thumping drive and Tom Lees headed over the bar from the subsequent corner.

Again, the energy levels dipped and Alfreton began to have more of a say.

Dan Bradley surged down the left from inside his own half before cracking a shot off the outside of the post from just inside the area.

It was a warning shot that was not heeded as Alfreton leveled four minutes later. Heaton was released on the left and darted in on goal before thumping a shot into the top corner at Joe Wildsmith’s near post.

The workout for the Owls was a good one. Pressure from Alfreton never abated, keeping Wednesday on their toes with active minds, even if legs were less so.

Alfreton: Draper, Mayo, Berry, Allan, Heaton, Jones, Bradley, Thanoj, Wilson, Johnstone, Ironside. Subs: O’Connor, Jordan, Smith, King, Gallinski, Palin.

Wednesday (first half: Dawson, Palmer, Lachman, Loovens (Sasso 29), Dielna, Lee, Semedo, Helan, Nuhiu, Meadows, Lavery.

Wednesday (second half): Wildsmith, Hunt, Lees, Sasso, Vermijl, Hutchinson, Melo, Croasdale, Lee (Wallace 72), Bus, Matias.

attendance: 1,547.

referee: Nigel Smith.