In one of the most dramatic games of the season in the Championship, Sheffield Wednesday were the victims of a last-gasp smash and grab from Stoke on Boxing Day. After going 2-1 up with just over a quarter of an hour to thanks to a goal from captain Tom Lees, the Potters struck twice deep into injury-time, to snatch a late victory.
The fact Wednesday went ahead in the second-half was certainly against the run of the play, with the home side dominating proceedings. Over the course of the 90 minutes, they racked up 17 total shots on goal, compared to the Owls’ measly four. And one man who typified Garry Monk’s side’s struggles in the clash, was Barry Bannan.
The midfield maestro has been one of the cornerstones of Wednesday’s push for promotion this campaign, registering an impressive five assists in just 21 games in the Championship. But against Stoke, the 30-year-old simply couldn’t get going, and was completely overwhelmed by the home side’s midfield trio of Sam Clucas, Jordan Cousins and Joe Allen.
As per Sofascore, Bannan won a ridiculously abysmal one duel out of the 12 he contested in total, whilst he made zero tackles too. And aside from his horror showing without the ball, the Scot also had a tough time of things when in possession too.
Usually one of the chief architects of Wednesday’s build-up play (as per Whoscored he averages 49 passes per game), he couldn’t influence the game for the away side, making just 32 accurate passes and losing the ball a staggering 18 times (the joint-most of any Owls player).
When coming up against a side near the relegation zone, you need your creative players to step on the ball and make it count. But Bannan was physically dominated by those involved in the Stoke engine room, and he was a major reason as to why Monk’s side fell to a shock defeat. When the going got tough, the 30-year-old went missing, and the Wednesday manager will be wondering whether he has the stomach for the promotion fight this season.
Making the step up from the Championship to the Premier League requires victories that are built on resilience and desire. And Bannan’s miserable performance away from home raises a major question as to whether he can be trusted in the long-run.