Wednesday’s unbeaten run continued as a Chris Brunt goal gave the Owls a share of the spoils against a battling Queens Park Rangers side at Loftus Road on Saturday.
The Owls failed to provide the cutting edge in front of goal that was present during their 3-2 victory over another relegation candidate in Leeds last weekend, but they had to rely on the heroics of Iain Turner once again as the on-loan Everton custodian picked up another man-of-the-match award for the Owls in London.
Owls boss Brian Laws made just one change to the side that started in midweek, with Marcus Tudgay coming in to play on the right hand side in place of the injured Jermaine Johnson, while youngster Rocky Lekaj made his first appearance in the Owls’ 16 following an injury to Wade Small.
Rangers were boosted with the loan signing of Southampton’s creative midfielder Inigo Idiakez while former Saint Dexter Blackstock returned to bolster the Hoops attack after serving a one-match ban last weekend.
And it was obvious who was desperate for the points as early as the first minute as the hosts came bursting out of the blocks to force three corners on the spin but the Owls defence held firm despite the presence of Blackstock and strike partner Paul Furlong in the R’s attack.
The first real chance of the game came as Frank Simek slipped while clearing the ball to allow the highly-rated Lee Cook break free down the left to provide an inch-perfect cross for Blackstock who forced a fantastic save from Turner with a powerful header.
And just minutes later the industrious Cook was centre of attention again as he picked the ball up outside the Owls box and smashed the crossbar with Turner helpless.
And the Scotsman was looking unbeatable between the sticks as Blackwell and Rowlands both forced fine saves as QPR continued to pour forward in search of goals, before the on-loan Idiakez saw his superb free-kick brilliantly turned away.
And Rangers’ frustrations in front of goal grew on the stroke of half-time as Turner was forced in to a carbon copy save from Idiakez, this time from 25 yards out.
Half-Time: QPR 0-0 Wednesday
Brian Laws will have had strong words for his men going in to the break, with the 2500-strong Owls fans expecting more from their team, and they came out in the second half with a more attacking mentality.
John Gregory’s men continued to have the better of the possession but it was Wednesday who took the advantage, against the run of play, with their first real chance on goal.
Frank Simek’s dangerous long-throw found Marcus Tudgay inside the box, and his flicked header on towards the far post found Chris Brunt unmarked on the edge of the six yard box to power home for his 11th goal of the campaign.
It may not have been the kind of goal you relate to the Ulsterman, but it was enough to give Wednesday the advantage and leave the home fans wondering just how they were behind.
But the hosts didn’t let their heads drop, and substitute Mark Nygaard forced Turner in to another fine save from close range after coming on to replace the injured Dexter Blackstock.
Wednesday looked more composed after the break though, and in spells showed the class which put them to within four points of the play-off spots back in December.
And the points looked safe going in to the final 20 minutes as Rangers looked to have used all their energy with little reward, until the 72nd minute when Nygaard went to ground under a challenge from Richard Wood.
The penalty looked a tame one to concede, but the hosts were in no mood to look a gift horse in the mouth and Martin Rowlands duly slotted home form the spot to level the scores and give Rangers the boost they needed going in to the final 15 minutes.
But Deon Burton went close to netting minutes later before Chris Brunt neatly turned his marker inside the box and forced Lee Camp in to a superb close-range stop to keep Rangers in the game.
The match become end-to-end in the final ten minutes as both sides looked eager for the victory but it was Turner who came to the rescue again for Wednesday as he made a point-blank save from Furlong deep in to injury time to preserve the Owls’ four-game unbeaten run.
Full-Time: QPR 1-1 Wednesday
QPR: Camp, Bignot, Cullip, Bolder, Rowlands, Cook, Stewart, Idiakez (Ainsworth 67), Furlong, Blackstock (Nygaard 60), Mancienne. Subs: Royce, Kanyuka, Smith.
Wednesday: Turner, Bullen, Whelan, Tudgay, MacLean (Graham 80), Burton, Brunt, Wood, Watson (Lunt 27), Simek, Spurr. Subs: Adamson, Gilbert, Lekaj.
Brian Laws told the official SWFC site:
‘We settled for a point in the end but we came here to try and win the game. We knew it was going to be a tough game because QPR are fighting for their lives; they need the points.
‘All in all we have had to scrape out a point here but we’ll take that. It’s another step towards the target we are trying to hit and another point to keep us away from the bottom end.’
John Gregory told BBC Sport:
‘This feels like a defeat, because we dominated the match for such a long time. Given the amount of opportunities we created, I felt we should have been home and dry by half-time.
‘We made one error, which happened to be their first shot on goal, and we were punished because Brunt scored.
‘We are not good enough to be more elaborate, so a more direct approach is the way we have to go. We are still optimistic about our chances of staying up.’