Sheffield Wednesday fans will be familiar with seeing Josh Windass make things happen on his Championship debut for the club and that was no different as he starred in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Cardiff City.
Turmoil has surrounded Wednesday throughout 2020 and Windass has been at the thick of things after initially joining the club on loan from Wigan Athletic back in January.
Windass scored in a 1-1 draw on debut against Barnsley at Oakwell, but his signing couldn’t inspire Wednesday to maintain their play-off push and they eventually fell away to mid-table as injury issues crippled the forward’s minutes.
Now, we see Windass return to Wednesday on a permanent deal, but amid fresh turmoil. Garry Monk’s side are bottom of the Championship table and have been deducted 12 points. They are up against it in terms of fighting for their second-tier status and needed a fast start in South Wales.
Cue Windass, who inspired them to a victory against Neil Harris’ side and last season’s beaten play-off semi-finalists.
As our graphic shows, it was quite the afternoon for Windass, who showed how he can influence things in the final third right through his 70 minutes on the field:
A fast start was needed to lift the spirits at Wednesday and, with a little help from some slack Cardiff passing, they got that only four minutes in.
Izzy Brown was first to react to a wayward pass across the centre of the pitch, pouncing to set Windass racing in-behind the Cardiff defence. Closing in on Alex Smithies’ goal, the 26-year-old made no mistake in giving Monk the perfect platform to start 2020/21 with a bang.
That was one of two shots Windass managed on Smithies’ goal, but the Cardiff goalkeeper was equal to his fierce effort as the forward worked himself a shooting chance later in the half.
Dangerous positions were being picked up by Windass and, as the game approached half-time, the former Wigan man would have another telling impact in the penalty area.
A well-worked set-piece was flicked on from the right side of the box, finding Windass’ head. His clever effort was bound for goal, but a touch from Jordan Rhodes took it beyond Smithies and doubled Wednesday’s lead at the perfect time.
Those contributions to the scoreline were crucial, but other areas of Windass’ game also stood out in his 70 minutes on the field: six touches in the penalty area, a progressive run and three of his five offensive duels underlined an all-round attacking display to be proud of.
Ultimately, though, outperforming his xG and xA won Wednesday the points. It’s taken Monk’s side to -9 in terms of their tally on the board and restored belief that this campaign will not be an entire waste of time.
For Windass, he’s got his own personal battle to overcome. He started his loan spell at Hillsborough in similar fashion, but faded away and managed only nine appearances as injuries pinched. He did score three goals, but like many in Monk’s squad there wasn’t much else to be positive about.
Now, he’s set the standard and the hope will be that the promise a second debut has brought isn’t a false dawn.