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Our Next Opponents - Any Good?

By: Richard Lord
Date: 17/04/2003

JUST three weeks ago Sheffield Wednesday were at the bottom of the First Division, five points adrift of the team above them and eight points from safety. After winning only six of their 40 games this season, it appeared that the Owls were doomed.

Since October or November it looked as though it would be any three of four for the drop to Division Two. At the end of March Sheffield Wednesday had just 32 points and one win in their last 12 matches.

Their first win of the season came in their sixth game - a highly charged encounter with city rivals Sheffield United. They won that 2-0 but had to wait another eight games before their next victory - a 2-1 home win over Bradford City.

That victory over the Bantams was the only one in 18 games and it wasn't until Boxing Day that their third win of the season arrived - an impressive 2-0 home victory over Nottingham Forest.

Despite losing a crucial six-pointer at Stoke, the Owls won their next two games, consisting of a 2-0 win at Rotherham (their first away win of the season) and a 3-2 home win against Reading, after they had gone 2-0 down.

This mini revival was possibly sparked by the Mariners' 2-0 win over Wednesday at Blundell Park. Hope was restored amongst the Hillsborough supporters but they were in for a frustrating time.

There then followed a defeat at Sheffield United, a heavy home defeat to Wolves but a couple of good draws against Norwich and Derby. A home defeat to Preston looked to have dented the Owls' confidence.

But then, just when you wouldn't expect it, Wednesday recorded a 5-1 home win against Coventry - a side that won comfortably at Blundell Park only four days earlier.

A good point earned at Leicester seemed to suggest that the Owls had it in them to pull off an impressive survival mission but again they drew too many matches - and a crucial defeat at Millwall rooted them firmly to the bottom.

The good form of the teams around them (Town grabbed back-to-back wins, Brighton were recording some good results and Stoke had improved their home form) meant Wednesday were all but down.

But once more they have responded by getting a couple of important victories. A 4-2 home win over Wimbledon and a terrific 2-1 victory at Premiership-bound Portsmouth lifted them off the bottom of the table.

This good form has coincided with the return of Lloyd Owusu, a summer signing from Brentford. He has been forced to miss the majority of the season through injury.

Sheffield Wednesday's run-in is looking very favourable. They have that all-important home game against Town this Saturday and then a massive match down at Brighton on Easter Monday.

The following Saturday sees them travel to the defensively generous Burnley before ending the season with a plum tie against Walsall in front of the Hillsborough crowd.

So while many Town fans might be looking at the fixture list and thinking there's a possible six points from the next two games, you can be assured that there will be a similar thought process in Sheffield.

If there's on thing that is going against the Owls it is inconsistency. Wins have been few and far between but they tend to arrive close together. Let's hope they've had their fair share of wins for now.

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