Date: 28th January 2009 at 10:50am
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TEN-man Wednesday fell to their first Championship defeat of 2009 as in-form Nottingham Forest continued their climb up the table under boss Billy Davies at The City Ground on Tuesday night.

Jermaine Johnson had given the Owls the early lead before Nathan Tyson levelled for the hosts and Francis Jeffers’ first-half sending off gave Wednesday a mountain to climb before Luke Chambers bagged a 75th minute winner for Forest.

Owls boss Brian Laws stuck to the same side that beat Charlton Athletic 4-1 the last time out on his return to his former club, with Leon Clarke returning to the bench the only change in the squad.

Forest were depleted somewhat with injuries, with winger Paul Anderson missing out with a broken arm, while defender Wes Morgan was missing as was Joel Lynch, meaning that Wednesday were very much the favourites going into the clash.

But Davies’ Forest were very much a team in form, and although an FA Cup replay victory over rivals Derby County would pit them against Manchester United in the next round of the famous competition, their priorities still lay firmly with Championship survival.

The first half was a pretty drab affair, not helped by the late arrival of many Owls fans and Forest fans alike due to the traffic outside the ground, myself included.

The fixture at Hillsborough earlier in the season was a pretty drab affair and the return fixture looked to be offering more of the same with the slippery conditions at The City Ground enbaling little flowing, passing football.

Jermaine Johnson proved once again to be Wednesday’s biggest attacking threat and it was the Jamiacan who carved out the first chance on goal when he forced Forest stopper Paul Smith into a comfortable save.

The former Bradford man came close minutes later, this time seeing a snap-shot go just wide from a Darren Potter corner kick.

There was little in the way of chances for the next 20 minutes, although the hosts shaded the possession.

But it was Wednesday who made the breakthrough just before the half hour mark when Johnson flicked in from a Richard Wood knock-down from a Darren Potter corner to send the big travelling Wednesday support wild at the other end of the ground.

Wednesday’s set piece play looks to have improved significantly, with the addition of Potter putting in some good crosses and free-kicks throughout to test the home defence.

But Wednesday could only hold on to their advantage for six minutes before Forest found the leveller, and Mark Beevers was again at the heart of the Wednesday problems.

The youngster, going through a tough second season after impressing greatly in his first, allowed former Owls target Tyson through on goal and the hitman made no mistake while one-on-one with Lee Grant, although the Owls’ stopper did manage to get a hand to the effort.

Wednesday’s task was made even tough not long after when Jeffers received his marching orders for a late challenge on Joe Heath.

The dismissal was a huge blow for the striker who was keen to follow up his first goal in a year against Charlton last time out with another impressive performance against Forest.

Half-Time: Forest 1-1 Wednesday

Wednesday fans will have been fearing the worst for the start of the second half with the Owls returning to the pitch with just ten men.

No doubt a point will have been acceptable given the circumstances, but a defensive effort no doubt lay in wait for the travelling masses from S6.

But to Wednesday’s credit, they always looked to hit the hosts on the break, albeit in often unsuccessful instances.

Brian Laws’ men had a golden opportunity – their best of the match – just minutes after the restart when Marcus Tudgay was left unmarked just yards out at the back post, but the former Derby County man could only put his header wide with the goal gaping.

Wednesday fans had their heads in their hands ten minutes later when the hosts thought they’d taken the lead after Tyson had fed McClearly to put him through on goal and he found the back of the net only to see the linesman raise his flag for offside.

Despite having just ten men, the Owls were looking relatively comfortable against a Forest side struggling to create many clear-cut chances in front of goal.

If anything, Wednesday were looking more dangerous around the edge of the box, but just couldn’t find that decisive final ball which would have seen them through to create chances in the final third.

But the hosts did carve out a great chance for Tyson, who saw his effort brilliantly stopped by the in-form Grant.

But the Wednesday number one could do little to stop the Forest winner just minutes later when Chambers rose to head home McGugan’s cross on 75 minutes for his first goal of the season.

Laws had already taken the Owls’ main attacking threat off in Johnson, to be replaced by the returning Leon Clarke.

But it was Forest who almost wrapped the game up when substitute Joe Garner forced Grant into a top drawer save late on.

Full-Time: Forest 2-1 Wednesday

Forest: Smith, Chambers, Wilson, Breckin, Heath, McCleary (Moloney 90), Perch, McGugan, Davies (Thornhill 67), Tyson, Earnshaw (Garner 55). Subs Not Used: Gamble, Byrne.

Wednesday: Grant, Buxton, Beevers, Wood, Spurr, Johnson (Clarke 69), Potter, O’Connor (Boden 88), Gray, Tudgay (Small 79), Jeffers. Subs Not Used: Hinds, Modest.