Date: 5th October 2008 at 12:54pm
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Owls boss Brian Laws set a top-ten target for his men ahead of the international break, and they’ve done just that, but he wouldn’t have wanted to go in to the two-week break on the back of a 4-0 hiding at Home Park on Saturday.

Thrashings on the road are fast becoming an unwanted trend for Wednesday, with all three defeats so far this season coming on the road, and in emphatic style – 4-1 at Wolves, 6-0 at Reading, and now 4-0 at Argyle.

The Owls’ Jekyll and Hyde form will be of concern for Laws after the latest battering against Wednesday’s former boss Paul Sturrock, with the only positive to come from the match that Francis Jeffers managed a full 45-minutes on his way back to full fitness.

But with the good news of Jeffers’ return, there was also some cause for concern with ever-present this season, Tommy Spurr, picking up an injury which could rule him out of action for a number of weeks.

Laws’ problems started before the clash, with the news that skipper Richard Wood and former Argyle man Peter Gilbert both missed out through injury, allowing Mark Beevers to return to the centre-defence alongside the recalled Steve Watson, while Spurr reverted to his usual left-back position.

There were a number of links with the hosts, with former Owls boss Paul Sturrock of course at the helm, while another former Owl in Yoann Folly made the Pilgrims’ bench, though striker Steve Maclean missed out.

Both sides came in to the clash full of confidence, with Wednesday riding high in fifth position in the Championship on the back of two successive victories, while the hosts also came in to the match keen to continue their rise up the table after going four games without defeat.

The blustery conditions in Plymouth meant for a slow start to the clash, with chances very few and far between in the early exchanges.

Wednesday picked up their first win on the road this season against Charlton last week, but the first half at Home Park was to pan out in much the same way as the Owls’ trip to Reading earlier in the season which resulted in a 6-0 drubbing.

It was in the most unfortunate of circumstances, though, that Wednesday fell behind to the opening goal after just 15 minutes.

Argyle front man Paul Gallagher forced Owls’ stopper Lee Grant in to the first save of the match, but Spurr’s attempted clearance was hit straight in to the chest of Beevers with the ball falling in to the back of the net.

Spurr’s luck for the day almost got even worse when the referee waved away protests following his rash challenge on Jamie Mackie inside the box.

But Wednesday’s luck didn’t get any better just ten minutes later when they fell further behind as Mackie put in the perfect ball for former Blackburn hitman Gallagher to stroke by Grant and leave the Wednesday fans behind the goal wondering if the long journey south was going to be worth it.

No excuses with traffic jams and roadworks this time for Wednesday, but the resemblance to that night at the Madejski Stadium was there for all in blue and white to see at Home Park as the Owls collapse continued on the half hour mark with Plymouth’s third.

A deep corner kick from the hosts saw Grant parry a Rory Fallon effort, only for Mackie to turn from provider to goalscorer with the hosts’ third to leave Wednesday with a huge mountain to climb.

Half-Time: Plymouth 3-0 Wednesday

Laws had spoken of his disappointment of the results on the road this season, all except the victory at Charlton and the draw at Swansea, and no doubt he’ll have had some strong words for his troops at the half-time interval.

Wednesday had to make some changes, and Laws introduced Jeffers for his first full half of competitive football this season in place of Wade Small, while Jermaine Johnson was also introducted after he missed out in the Owls’ last two matches by replacing Etienne Esajas.

And the changes almost immediately worked for the Owls after a fine pass from James O’Connor picked out sub Jeffers, but he couldn’t hit the target with only Argyle stopper Romain Larrieu in the way.

Wednesday continued to enjoy the better of the possession with the weather in their favour after the break and hosts happy to sit back on their 3-0 lead, but chances came in the form of half-chances as sub Johnson fire a long-range effort wide minutes later.

O’Connor and Jeffers linked again as the home ‘keeper continued to be tested, this time Jeffers’ skillful ball finding the former Burnley man just outside thew six-yard box but the French stopper was more than a match for his effort.

Laws introduced Chelsea loanee Jimmy Smith to the fray after the hour mark, but his introduction, as it has for most of the season, did little to show just why he’s on Chelsea’s books with the midfielder contributing little to the clash, which was at this point all-but won for the hosts.

The match fizzed out in to a non-contest, but Argyle did what Wednesday were pushing to do for the majority of the second half in the final minute of time as Marcel Seip rubbed salt in the Wednesday wounds with a fourth with his headed effort.

Full-Time: Plymouth 4-0 Wednesday

Plymouth: Larrieu, Doumbe, Cathcart, Seip, Barker, Mackie (Paterson 83), Summerfield, Duguid, Clark (Marin 88), Gallagher (Mpenza 90), Fallon. Subs Not Used: Timar, Folly.

Wednesday: Grant, McMahon, Beevers, Watson, Spurr, Small (Jeffers 46), O’Connor, McAllister, Esajas (Johnson 46), Burton (Smith 56), Tudgay. Subs Not Used: O’Donnell, Clarke.