Date: 26th August 2007 at 1:30pm
Written by:

Wednesday’s disastrous start to the new campaign continued in dramatic style in London as they let a 2-0 half-time advantage slip to fall to a last-minute defeat against Alan Pardew’s Addicks in a sun drenched Valley at the weekend.

Owls boss Brian Laws was desperate to get first three points on the board for the blue and white wizards but another second half collapse saw the Owls lose their third consecutive league game on the spin to remain rock bottom of the Championship.

Pardew’s Addicks had also endured a tough start to the campaign following relegation from the Premiership having picked up just a point from their opening two fixtures prior to the match, and it was a chance for both sides to get their first wins of the season.

Wednesday didn’t go in to the game with ideal preparations after Laws was unable to complete any of his three transfer targets in time for the trip to London, and with the current injury crisis at S6 the Owls first eleven looked weak against a side plying their trade in the top flight not too long ago.

Steve Watson failed to prove his fitness in time so Richard Hinds was given his first league start in the famous blue and white stripes, alongside Frank Simek, Richard Wood and Tommy Spurr in the Wednesday back four.

In Jermaine Johnson Wednesday had a ray of hope in attack while Glenn Whelan was also in form in the centre of midfield alongside Kenny Lunt, but Wade Small missed out with a knock, giving Burton O’Brien the chance to shine on the left.

Francis Jeffers missed out and Marcus Tudgay was only fit enough for a place on the bench, so captain Deon Burton partnered Leon Clarke in the Owls attack against former Owls players Madjid Bougherra and Nicky Weaver.

The Addicks, who reduced ticket prices for the clash to get more fans behind them, were firm favourites going in to the clash despite their poor start to the campaign.

But in the first half they looked anything but promotion candidates as Wednesday took advantage of some sloppy Charlton play to take a 2-0 advantage in to the break courtesy of fine strikes from O’Brien and Spurr which left the Valley faithful with a chorus of booing for their charges at the break.

Both teams were desperate for a positive start to the clash and there were chances at either end as Marcus Bent forced Lee Grant in to a comfortable save before Richard Hinds caused problems from a corner at the other end.

And it didn’t take long for the opening goal to come as some neat play between Deon Burton, Johnson and Kenny Lunt saw the latter have a shot on goal blocked before the rebound fell to Burton O’Brien and the left-winger thrashed a superb effort by former Owls loanee Weaver to give the Owls the start they needed after just six minutes.

All Charlton’s play was coming through former Nottingham Forest and Spurs man Andy Reid, skipper for the Addicks, but the playmaker failed to spark any life in to the Charlton attack as long balls to Marcus Bent provided the only output from a poor looking Athletic side in the early stages.

And they were made to put on 15 minutes as youngster, and Vital Sheffield Wednesday kit sponsor, Tommy Spurr doubled the Owls advantage to the delight of the strong travelling barmy army away at the other end.

Frank Simek was the architect as the American went on one of his surging runs in to the box before the Charlton defence cleared the danger for a corner. Glenn Whelan swing a dangerous ball in and Spurr lashed home his header to give Wednesday their dream start.

The goals gave Wednesday a visible lift and they thwarted all attacks from a one-dimensional Charlton attack to the frustration of the majority at the Valley who were hoping to see their team bag their first win of the season.

Even when Wednesday frustratingly gave Charlton’s key men such as Darren Ambrose and Andy Reid time on the ball, the men in red looked clueless as to what to do next and they failed to trouble Grant for the remainder of the first half.

And although Wednesday were happy to sit back and defend their 2-0 lead in comfortable fashion, they still looked danger on the counter attack through the lively Jermaine Johnson and Frank Simek, but they failed to turn chances in to further goals before the break.

Half-Time: Charlton 0-2 Wednesday

Changes were made at the break with Marcus Tudgay coming on for the Owls in place of Leon Clarke – who enjoyed one of his better games in the blue and white shirt, holding the ball up well and causing problems to Bougherra and McCarthy at the centre of the Charlton defence.

And Alan Pardew also made a change with former Portsmouth hitman Sventoslav Todorov coming on to replace Bent, as the Addicks looked for some more clinical finishing in attack, and Ben Thatcher was also replaced by Zheng Zhi to add some more flare for the hosts.

And Zhi certainly looked to add that early on as he showed signs of what was to come with some flowing attacking moves.

The changes visibly lifted Charlton, who seemed to have been given a ‘fire at will’ instruction from their boss at the break, with Grant making a comfortable save from an Ambrose strike minutes after the restart as the Valley faithful urged their team forward.

Former Colchester hitman Chris Iwelumo also came close for the hosts but it was their skipper Reid who got the ball rolling for their superb comeback just six minutes in to the second half when he was given time to shape a curling effort by Grant to reduce the deficit.

Charlton were piling on the pressure but it was Wednesday would have have sealed the three points just before the hour mark as centre-back Richard Wood saw an effort chalked off by the referee to the disgust of the Owls faithful behind the goal Wednesday were attacking.

Glenn Whelan had forced a number of corners and Wood rose highest to nod the ball in to the back of the net only to see his effort ruled out for climbing on the back of the Charlton defender.

Laws was clearly looking to get men behind the ball and defend their 2-1 advantage after introducing Yoann Folly for his first run out of the season in place of the Owls most lively attacking option in Jermaine Johnson.

But the decision back-fired on the Owls gaffer as Charlton had a goal ruled out at the other side almost instantly when Iwelumo and Ambrose clattered Grant in to the back of the net, complete with the ball.

But they didn’t have long to wait until they levelled by the weak Wednesday defence as Iwelumo neatly turned Wood and fired home just after the hour mark.

And the Charlton comeback was complete with just three minutes of time remaining as Iwelumo got in a similar position and before firing a superb low shot by Grant to send the home fans in the raptures and leave the Owls faithful with a long trip back up to South Yorkshire…again.

Full-Time: Charlton 3-2 Wednesday

Wednesday: Grant; Simek, Hinds, Wood, Spurr, (Gilbert 80); Johnson (Folly 56), Lunt, Whelan, O’Brien, Clarke (Tudgay 46), Burton. Subs not used: Burch, Bullen.

Charlton: Weaver; McCarthy, Bougherra (Faye 88), Fortune, Thatcher (Zhi 45); Reid, Ambrose, Semedo, Thomas, Iwelumo, Bent (Todorov). Subs not used: Randolph, McLeod.