Sheffield Wednesday have their backs against the wall after they were hammered 4-0 by a rampant Peterborough at London Road on Sunday.
Sheffield Wednesday have had almost five days to clear their heads after a disastrous 4-0 loss away to Peterborough in the first leg of their League One, play-off semi-final and they will have to come out firing if they are to have any hope of turning the tie around.
Recovering from a four-goal deficit would set a new record in EFL play-off history and the Owls are up against a Peterborough side which has kept clean sheets in three consecutive matches.
Peterborough will have to guard against complacency, though. They sustained a 5-0 loss at home to Bolton in February and must avoid something similarly catastrophic occuring in South Yorkshire.
|What||Sheffield Wednesday v Peterborough|
|Where||Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield|
|When||20:00, Thursday 18th May, 2023|
|How to watch||Sky Sports Football|
|Odds||Sheffield Wednesday 7/10, Draw 11/4, Peterborough|
Sheffield Wednesday can respond to last Friday's hammering at Peterborough with a much better performance and a home victory, but it is highly unlikely to be enough for them to avoid a play-off semi-final exit for the second successive season.
Somehow turning the tie on its head and springing a huge 16/1 surprise by forging a passage to Wembley is surely too big an ask.
Peterborough are 4/1 to secure back-to-back wins, but they are 1/40 to qualify, which is understandable given their four-goal advantage.
If Wednesday wanted to look back at any past EFL play-off matches for a source of inspiration they would be wasting their time. No team has recovered from anything more than a two-goal first leg deficit and Peterborough have the look of a side determined to see the job through.
Darren Ferguson's men have suffered 11 away league defeats this season, including a 1-0 reverse at Hillsborough, although none of those losses have been by more than two goals.
Darren Moore's side will do their utmost to plot a route back into the tie, but they will also be determined to give their supporters a much better performance and there is a strong likelihood of them at least winning the second leg.
They have lost just one of 23 home league games this season and look decent value at to win the second leg.
Peterborough came from off the pace to reach the play-offs by taking a positive mentality into matches and they are unlikely to change their approach despite holding such a handsome advantage.
There were plenty of chances for both teams in the opening leg and the worst thing that Peterborough could do is simply sit back and try to absorb wave after wave of Wednesday attacks.
Peterborough showed off their counter-attacking prowess in the second half of the first leg with pacy wide men Kwame Poku and Ephron Mason-Clark causing Wednesday all sorts of problems.
Poku's assist for Mason-Clark five minutes into the second half felt like a defining moment in the tie because Wednesday had looked like a dangerous side up to that point.
Wednesday finished the match with 14 shots, eight of them on target, and missed a glorious early chance to take the lead when Michael Smith was clean through and had his shot saved by Will Norris.
Peterborough's goal led a charmed life at times and it seems unlikely that they will secure another shutout. However, the Posh have scored in five of their last six away games and they will fancy their chances of getting on the scoresheet.
It was hard to think of many positives for Wednesday to take out of their opening leg, but they were boosted by the return to full fitness of Josh Windass, who played the full game in his first start since mid-March.
Windass has had his second best goalscoring season in the EFL – netting 11 times – despite injury problems restricting him to just 29 starts.
The 29-year-old was not quite at his best last Friday, which is understandable given the recent layoff, but the playing time will have done him the world of good and he should be a fair bit sharper for the return.
Peterborough's main threat will come from their top scorer Jonson Clarke-Harris.
The 28-year-old has been unfairly tagged as a third tier player, but he is quite capable of playing at least a level above. He netted 12 goals when Posh were relegated from the Championship last season and is just 7/4 to score any time in the second leg against Wednesday.