Strikers? Who needs strikers! Wednesday recorded an impressive 2-1 vicotory away at high-flying Plymouth Argyle on a day Paul Sturrock returned to his former club as overwhelming underdog.
The Owls had netted just once all season from the spot, and travelled south with no fit strikers. But goals from early substitute Sean McAllister in reply to Paul Wotton’s opener and a late striker from Burton O’Brien ensured the Owls left Home Park with all three points.
The result comes on the back of a hectic week at Hillsborough following bad news on the injury front with the Owls last fit striker, Steve Maclean, was to be sidelined for four weeks. The news that club chairman Dave Allen was refusing to offer Paul Sturrock a new contract also didn’t help preperations for the trip to Devon. But the result will boost confidence in the Wednesday camp ahead of the big Yorkshiure derby with Leeds United next Sunday.
Pilgrims boss Ian Holloway made just way change to his previously unbeaten Pilgrims side by recalling Nick Chadwick to his attacking line-up. Former Blades midfielder Lilian Nalis wasn’t even included in the Plymouth sixteen after recovering from injury.
The same luxury couldn’t be said for former Plymouth legend Sturrock, who was left without any fit strikers for the tip to his former workplace. Wade Small started his first game for Wednesday in attack with Chris Brunt playing just behind the former MK Dons man.
Sturrock included young striker Luke Boden on the bench alongside an array of other academy-come-first team players.
Plymouth: McCormick, Connolly, Doumbe, Aljofree, Hodges, Norris, Wotton, Summerfield (Djordjic 60), Capaldi (Buzsaky 58), Hayles, Chadwick (Ebanks-Blake 71).
Subs Not Used: Sawyer, Reid.
Sheff Wed: Jones, Simek, Bougherra, Coughlan (McArdle 90), Spurr, Lunt (Boden 90), Whelan, O’Brien, Hills, Brunt, Small (McAllister 11).
Subs Not Used: Adamson, McClements.
Wednesday picked up their first three points of the season thanks to a battling performance that saw the strikerless Owls come from a goal down at half-time to turn the tide and pick up a 2-1 victory.
Paul Wotton converted a penalty for the hosts just before the break before substitute Sean McAllister netted just after half-time to level the scores. Burton O’Brien then popped up for Wednesday with just eight minutes of the season to see the Owls pick up their first victory of the campaign.
The Owls made an impressive start to the game as makeshift support striker Chris Brunt attempted to catch Plymouth stopper McCormack out with a quick-free kick but the Argyle stopper was equal to his efforts.
Wade Small then brushed passed Plymouth defender Doumbe from a long ball and was through on goal but the presence of McCormack saw the former MK Dons winger shoot high and wide to the relief of the Argyle defence.
The effort was to be the first and the last from the Owls new-boy, as Paul Sturrock’s injury nightmare continued with an injury to Small. It’s thought the injury is a hamstring problem which could see Small out for around a month.
The injury to Small saw Paul Sturrock again reshuffle his pack with Chris Brunt pushing further forward as a lone striker, and Sean McAllister coming on to make up the Owls five-man midfield.
Wednesday could perhaps count themselves lucky when David Norris was felled in the Wednesday box by a clumsy challenge from Glenn Whelen. The conditions didn’t help, with the sunshine at Home Park quickly replaced by a heavy downpour of rain which halted the flow of the game.
Paul Wotton then nearly came close to opening the scoring when he nearly caught the Owls napping from a free-kick that zipped wide of Brad Jones’ goal.
The breakthrough then came from the home side after some sloppy Wednesday defending. Former Blades striker Barry Hayles forced Frank Simek into a rushed backpass to Jones in the Owls goal before Hayles again blocked Jones’ clearance. The two tussled inside the box and the referee judged Jones to have fouled the Argyle striker.
The reliable Paul Wotton then stepped up and put the hosts 1-0 up just before the break. Wotton made it two penalties out of two against the Owls in consecutive seasons.
Half-Time: Plymouth 1-0 Wednesday
Despite their late first half opener, the home side were slow to come out of the traps in the second half. And Wednesday capitalised on another mistake from Doumbe in the Argyle defence as Burton O’Brien was left free to provide a deep cross for youngster McAllister to expertly fire home and give the Owls their first goal in open play.
The strike sent the travelling barmy army behind the goal wild and lisfted the players in turn. Chris Brunt saw a powerful effort drift just wide after Kenny Lunt knocked the ball into the wingers path.
Sean McAllister then sent a brilliant throughball for Brunt to latch on to, and the Northern Irish internationals lobbed effort beat McCormack but unfortunately hit the bar for the visitors.
Argyle boss Ian Holloway changed his hand to offer more options in attack for the hosts but the well-organised Owls defence, led by former Pilgrims hero Graham Coughlan, were in no mood to allow the hosts through on goal.
And as Argyle were surging forward to find the winning goal, a break led by Owls midfielder Kenny Lunt resulted in Burton O’Brien neatly chesting down and poking passed McCormack in the Argyle goal to give the Owls a 2-1 lead.
Former Manchester United striker Ebanks-Blake twice came close to salvaging a point for the Home Park side. Barry Hayles then hit the crossbar in injury time. But the Owls survived the onslaught to kick-start their season and pick up a valuable three-points.
Full-Time: Plymouth 1-2 Wednesday
Paul Sturrock told the SWFC website:
‘We had a gameplan, stuck to it and came out at the right end. We could have felt sorry for ourselves after Wade went off but we moved Kenny Lunt up front and went on to hit the crossbar twice as well as scoring two.’
‘I’m proud, especially as we have a small squad at the moment. We rode our luck a little and our goalie made a great last-minute save but we’d rolled our sleeves up and given our all. The team has showed its mettle in the last four games.’
‘We’re hoping Wade came off early enough so the injury is not too bad. But I’m pleased today for everyone involved and the fans were fantastic.’
Plymouth 1-2 Wednesday