Sheffield Wednesday: Buxton explains defence pitfalls

Tackle trouble: Reda Johnson picked up five bookings in eight games.
Tackle trouble: Reda Johnson picked up five bookings in eight games.

WEDNESDAY right-back Lewis Buxton has given an insight into why defenders sometimes cannot stop themselves from man-handling opponents.

He suffered when he gave away a penalty by tugging at an MK Dons player in the Owls’ FA Cup defeats.

Almost every week on TV defenders can be seen holding or pulling the shirts of opponents, especially at set-pieces.

Buxton reflects: “When a ball has been played and it’s broken the defensive line, if you are slightly out of position you try and get back goalside of that player.

“Quite often people put their arm out; it’s just a natural instinct as you play the game. A lot of the time you put your arm out to block someone; sometimes you stick your arm out and end up grabbing someone’s shirt and it can cost you.

“If players get the opportunity to go down - or give up the opportunity to score - they would rather take the penalty or get a free-kick. That’s just the way things are now.

“You have to realise that as a defender. It’s easier said than done, but you have to try and be clever yourself and know when you can get away with holding someone a little bit and when you can’t.

“That part of the game happens at all levels.

“The most obvious time when you see that is at corners: there’s always people bumping and shoving. It’s just part of the game.”

Buxton admits that it did not help the team when he conceded the penalty on Tuesday: “It was always going to be difficult once we gave that first goal away.

“I just tugged the guy’s shirt and then let go. He just stopped, didn’t go down, and the referee gave the penalty.

“I have not watched it back but it was just one of those things. I got slightly out of position and ended up giving a penalty away.”

It was a rare slip by Buxton, who was one of only four players from the starting line-up at Hull who began the FA Cup replay.

There are likely to be two changes in the back four against Wolves today, with Anthony Gardner and Reda Johnson coming in for Martin Taylor and Joe Mattock.

Johnson has had his own problems this season trying to stop opponents, picking up five bookings in his first eight starts and recently serving a one-match ban.

He has tended to be penalised by referees for tackling that Dave Jones has described as “clumsy sometimes, when he get those long legs wrapped around someone; if he got into better positions sometimes, then he wouldn’t have to do that”.

But Johnson is valued by Jones for his power and pace and his ability in the air, which brought him the first goal at Hull - a header from a free-kick. Wednesday won well and have been hoping to beat the weather.

The team trained on the Hillsborough pitch, instead of the frozen training ground, on Thursday, and have benefited from its undersoil heating.

If there was going to be a doubt about today’s game, it was going to centre on the stadium surrounds. and external roads and footpaths, dependent on the volume of snow that fell.