Date: 11th January 2009 at 4:42pm
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Wednesday started their ‘new era’ under the chairmanship of Wednesdayite Lee Strafford with a deserved point from a tough clash against Ipswich Town at Portman Road on Saturday.

The Owls took a new wave of optimism down for the clash against former Owl Jim Magilton’s men following the off-the-field news last week, and Steve Watson’s 52nd minute goal saw them pick up a share of the spoils.

But it could have been more for Wednesday had it not been for a leveller from Pablo Counago.

The Tractor Boys went into the clash looking to secure a hat-trick of victories, while Owls boss Brian Laws will have been hoping his men could put in the same effort which saw them fall to a last-minute defeat to Fulham in the FA Cup last weekend.

Laws made two changes to that side, with Steve Watson returning from injury to replace the suspended James O’Connor, while new signing Michael Gray went straight into the side to replace the injured Wade Small.

Francis Jeffers was included in the starting line-up to try an end his goal drought against his former club, while former Wednesday loanee Alex Bruce returned to the Ipswich side in defence.

Both sides were sitting smack bang in mid-table going into the clash and the first 45 minutes proved an even affair with both sides lacking real clear-cut chances in front of goal.

Ipswich boss Jim Magilton spoke of the lack of a good final ball from his troops throughout the 90 minutes and it proved the case for both teams in a lacklustre first half.

The pace of Town frontman Danny Haynes was the cause of most of the Owls’ problem in the opening exchanges, Haynes twice ghosting by Tommy Spurr but only seeing Richard Wood well positoned to clear the danger.

But it was Wednesday who carved out the first real chance of the game when former Everton duo Jeffers and Watson linked, former Town man Jeffers getting in a good position to provide an inviting cross for Watson to prod just wide of goal.

Watson was again central to the play when his dangerous corner saw Mark Beevers head just wide of goal.

Ipswich’s main threats were coming down the wing from the jet-heeled Haynes and Jon Walters down the left, but the Owls defence were dealing with it relatively comfortably throughout the first 45.

Both sides upped the tempo in the last ten minutes of the half with Watson, enjoying a fine match after coming back into the team, having another effort when he sliced a shot over, before Jermaine Johnson saw a close-range effort saved by Richard Wright.

At the other end, Kevin Lisbie and Counago combined brilliantly to give Walters arguably the best chance of the half by Wood was brilliantly positioned to clear his effort off the line and ensure Wednesday were level going into the break.

Half-Time: Ipswich 0-0 Wednesday

Wednesday have enjoyed more joy in the second half than the first in many matches so far this season and it looked like a case of more of the season at Portman Road with the Owls making a lightning fast start to the second 45.

Johnson was sent racing down the wing to provide an inch-perfect cross for Watson to power his header by Wright and give the 1,000 or so Wednesdayites lots to cheer about just seven minutes after the restart.

The goal opened up the game somewhat, with Grant saving well from Haynes and Johnson firing into the side netting after a fine move involving new-boy Gray and Watson.

But the hosts found the leveller not long after through Counago.

A corner from Tommy Miller found the head of former Leicester City man Gareth McAuley which forced a superb save from the in-form Grant, only for Counago to follow it up and into the back of the net after the hour mark.

Wednesday responded well though and could have regained the lead on 73 minutes had Jeffers found the back of the net from a Johnson corner rather than flick his effort wide of the post to the relief of ‘keeper Wright.

Both sides went looking for a winner in the closing stages but it was Ipswich who looked the most likely to grab all three points with Counago, Walters and Stead all having half chances.

Full-Time: Ipswich 1-1 Wednesday

Town: R.Wright, Bruce, McAuley, Campo (Volz 58), Thatcher,Haynes, Norris, Miller (Garvan 76), Walters, Lisbie (Stead 64), Counago. Subs not used: Supple, Quinn. Booked: Campo.

Wednesday: Grant, Buxton, Wood, Beevers, Spurr, Watson, McAllister, Boden, Gray (Modest 88), Johnson, Jeffers. Subs not used: Lekaj, Jameson, Liversidge, Wragg.