Date: 1st November 2008 at 4:56pm
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The Owls and the Eagles shared the spoils in a close-fought clash which saw both sides bounce back from midweek defeats at Selhurst Park.

Leon Clarke had given Wednesday the early advantage after just six minutes against Neil Warnock’s men, before Ben Watson levelled for the hosts from the spot ten minutes in to the second half.

Both sides had chances to win the game but a draw was probably a fair result on the day as Wednesday made an improvement on their recent form on the road.

Wednesday boss Brian Laws made changes to the side that fell to a disappointing defeat at Plymouth in midweek with a trio of regular first team players all making a welcome return to the line-up.

Marcus Tudgay, James O’Connor and Mark Beevers all passed late fitness tests for the Owls, replacing Francis Jeffers, Jermaine Johnson and Peter Gilbert respectively, while former Owl Shefki Kuqi started for Palace.

Both sides were desperate for victories following midweek defeats and it was Palace who made the brighter start in the opening exchanges with Ben Watson flashing an early warning effort harmlessly wide of goal.

But from then on Wednesday gained the upper hand as Palace eased up, with the visitors enjoying the more of the possession even though the game was a scrappy affair from both sides.

The Owls made the breakthrough after just six minutes when Clarke repaid his manager for keeping faith in him attack as Sean McAllister laid the ball off for him to fire home from inside the box and send the travelling Wednesday fans wild.

Chances were few and far between as the heavy rain put paid to any kind of attractive football at Selhurt Park, Sheki Kuqi coming close for the hosts with a header from six yards out, but Wednesday were looking relatively comfortable with the hosts offering little more in attacking threat.

Palace started to offer a little more as the first half drew to a close, but Owls’ stopper Lee Grant came racing from his line to deny West Brom loanee Craig Beattie, before the same player floated a free-kick high and wide.

Wednesday had a half decent shout for a penalty with five minutes to go in the first half as Steve Watson looked to have been felled inside the box, but appeals fell on deaf ears.

And just minutes later some good football from Palace resulted in Grant making a good, but comfortable save, to deny Ben Watson with Palace’s first threatening play of the first 45 minutes.

But Palace had their best chance of the match through former Sheffield United winger Paul Ifill as his scissor kick was brilliantly saved down by Grant just a minute before the break, before Steve Watson cleared the resulting corner off the line as Palace looked to have built some momentum going in to the break.

Half-time: Palace 0-1 Wednesday

The second half continued as the first had ended, with a scrappy opening and neither side able to grab a hold on to the game.

Palace found the breakthrough they were after on 56 minutes as former Owl Shefki Kuqi was seemingly brought down on the six yard box by Owls’ defender Mark Beevers, who wasn’t happy with the decision from the man in black.

Ben Watson put the ball down 12 yards out and sent Grant the wrong way to level for Palace and put an end to all the hard work put in from the Owls in the first 55 minutes.

The goal gave the Palace faithful, and their team, renewed confidence and it showed with their passing and upped pace immediately after the leveller, Watson again going close for Palace as he dived in on Lee Grant when attempting to go for the ball.

But it was Wednesday who had the best chance to bag the next goal and regain their advantage just minutes later through Clarke, who should have done better from just yards out but couldn’t put the ball in to the back of the net.

Steve Watson then forced Palace stopper Speroni in to a tricky save from a free-kick from 30-yards out as more chances continued to come for both teams with the second half certainly more open than the first, Tudgay also coming close before the Palace defence cleared for a corner.

Kuqi should have done better from the edge of the box when the Finnish international was left unmarked at a Palace attack as the game got in to the kind of state that could have seen either side take all three points.

Wednesday introduced Akpo Sodje to their attack in place of Clarke as they looked for some extra power and pace up front in the attempt to bag all three points, Jermaine Johnson also making his way on to the pitch minutes later to add further attacking threat.

Only half chances came at either end as both teams looked to go for the victory, Jermaine Johnson coming the closest for Wednesday as he lashed a powerful effort just wide of Speroni’s goal.

At the other end, Lee Grant spread himself to deny Sean Scannell from point blank range with a superb save.

To the amazement of most in the ground, the fourth official added five minutes added time, which saw Wednesday threaten with a number of corner kicks and Ben Watson fire a 25-yard effort over the bar for the hosts late on.

And Palace had a superb chance in the dying minutes as Lewis Buxton put in a superb last ditch tackle to get between man and ball and deny the hosts following a break.

Full Time: Palace 1-1 Wednesday

Palace: Speroni; Hill, McCarthy, Fonte, Lawrence; Ifil, Derry, Watson, Beattie (Scannell 78); Oster, Kuqi (Andrew 88).Subs not used: Carle, Moses, Ertl.

Wednesday: Grant; Buxton, Wood, Beevers, Spurr; Esajas (Johnson 70), McAllister, Watson, O’Connor, Tudgay; Clarke (Sodje 70).Subs not used: Gilbert, Burton, Jeffers.