At long last the Owls can relax safe in the knowledge that their Championship status is secure for another season at least. Reading on the other hand, are safe in the knowledge that they’ll be playing Premiership football next season – so it’s celebration time all round at Hillsborough this weekend.
The Royals will not be taking it easy on the Owls though – their form hasn’t dipped in the slightest since being crowned Champions weeks ago, as they bid to break the record points total in the Championship, which is currently held by Sunderland. A draw and a win would see them complete their goal, so they can’t afford a slip up against Wednesday.
Paul Sturrock told the Yorkshire Post:
“There is no way we can afford to relax because we might have five goals knocked passed us. If Reading are up for this it will be a very difficult game and could numb our party spirit.”
“I am going to have to go with the ‘lame and lousy’ because I do not think it is appropriate to put the kids in for this game. Reading are chasing the points record for winning the Championship and the last thing I want to do is put players in who end up being the whipping boys.”
“I am hoping that we will still have an edge to our game on Saturday because the fresh faces, who need to perform, might benefit the team. We have crossed our finishing line and how many times have we seen teams with nothing to play for whimper through to the end of a season?”
Wednesday Team News:
Wednesday will be without winger Chris Brunt and midfielder Steve Adams who have both been ruled out for the remainder of the season. Brunt has been playing with an injury to his thigh and will now undergo treatment following the Owls win at Brighton last week. Adams will also be rested following a knee problem and will undergo treatment.
With the Owls’ Championship status now secure, Owls boss Paul Sturrock is unlikely to risk on-loan defender Mikkel Bischoff who is currently recovering from injury. Lee Bullen is set to continue alongside Graham Coughlan at the heart of defence.
Right-back Frankie Simek is likely to continue in defence despite the need to undergo an operation. The Owls’ defensive crisis means the American will now wait until the end of the season to undergo treatment.
Sturrock may give starts to Steve Maclean, Jon-Paul McGovern ad Leon Best, who haven’t featured as much as they’d have liked in recent weeks. Youngsters Sean McAllister and Tommy Spurr may also get a run-out after featuring on the bench during the 2-0 victory over Brighton on Monday.
Player to watch: Deon Burton
The former Derby man is fast becoming a crowd favourite at Hillsborough after striking up a brilliant partnership with Marcus Tudgay in attack and playing an influential part in the Owls survival this season. Burton will want to bow out at Hillsborough with a goal in front of his adoring fans and it’s unlikely he’ll dissapoint.
Reading Team News:
Reading boss Steve Coppell will not be taking it easy on the Owls – as the Royals need four points from their remaining two matches to break a new points record in the Championship currently held by Sunderland.
The Royals will, however, be without tricky winger Glenn Little who is missing through a groin injury and is likely to be missing for the remained of the season. England under-21 international Leroy Lita will also be missing with a broken ankle.
Key men Kevin Doyle and Steve Sidwell will shake off minor knocks and are likely to feature for the Champions. The pair have been a vital part of Reading’s promotion and are sure to cause the Wednesday team problems.
John Oster, Graeme Murty and James Harper are also likely to return to the squad as they were left out of the 16 over the Easter period.
Player to watch: Kevin Doyle
Doyle has been a revelation since moving to the Madjeski Stadium and has been a key figure in the Royals promotion to the Premiership. The Irishman was signed for an undisclosed fee from Irish side Cork City last season and has proved to be one of the bargains of the season. He’s bagged 19 goals in 41 appearance for Reading.
Match Facts & Stats
Total Matches: 9
SWFC Wins: 5
Reading Wins: 3
1st November 2005
Reading 2-0 Wednesday
The hosts may have won by a comfortable margin but the Owls didn’t go down at the Madjeski without a fight. Richie Partridge wasted a golden opportunity in the first half before Reading went down the other end and scored thanks to a Glenn Whelen own goal. Dave Kitson wrapped up the points just after the hour mark.
Played For Both:
SWFC: Carson, Bullen, Coughlan, Simek, Hills, Best (Brunt 72), Whelan, O’Brien, Adams, Tudgay, Burton.
Subs Not Used: McGovern, MacLean, Spurr, McAllister.
Reading: Stack, Shorey (Golbourne 64), Makin, Sonko, Halls, Ingimarsson, Sidwell (Dobson 54), Gunnarsson, Hunt, Doyle (Cox 71), Long.
Subs Not Used: Hahnemann, Kitson
Vs Derby County (A) – 30/04/06