Date: 11th February 2008 at 8:58pm
Written by:

Wednesday’s relegation fears took a turn for the worst on Saturday when they dropped in to the Championship’s bottom three following defeat against play-off hopefuls Bristol City at Ashton Gate on Saturday.

The Owls were hovering dangerously above the drop zone prior to the clash, but defeat leaves Brian Laws and his patched up side staring the threat of relegation firmly in the face while Gary Johnson’s City side continue their Premiership dream despite.

City only made it in to the Championship last season but are a hot tip for the play-off spots, while Wednesday boss Laws faces a very different challenge from aiming to break in to the play-offs last term.

Laws made a number of changes to his side following the crushing 2-1 defeat to Ipswich prior to the trip to Ashton Gate, with new loan signing Adam Bolder fitting straight in to the midfield at the expense of Ronnie Wallwork, while Peter Gilbert came in at left back in place of Tommy Spurr.

Enoch Showunmi wasn’t allowed to play against his former club so Deon Burton returned to the Owls’ front line, and Wade Small came in for Jermaine Johnson who was away on compassionate leave following the death of his father.

The Robins fell to a 4-1 defeat at Ashton Gate the last time Wednesday travelled to Bristol, but the hosts were firm favourites this time around and they made their early superiority count as Michael McIndoe slotted a superb ball for new signing Dele Adebola to place by Lee Grant and open the scoring.

City dominated the first 45 minutes, but Wednesday did carve out some chances of their own, Deon Burton powering a shot straight at City stopper Adriano Basso in a rare attack.

Graham Kavanagh also saw a set piece effort drift just wide of Basso’s goal, but the Owls never really looked like responding to Adebola’s early breakthrough, as the Owls’ fans who braved the long journey south stared another defeat firmly in the face.

And the game could well have been dead and buried before the break, as City’s Australian player Nick Carle was almost shocked to find himself unmarked and with time on the ball just yards out, but he somehow placed his effort wide of Grant’s goal to the relief of the Owls’ keeper.

Former Derby County man Grant has been one of the few shining lights for the Owls in recent weeks, saving Wednesday a number of times, and he did so again just minutes before the break, Carle again coming close as Grant denied the City man with a top drawer save to keep the Owls in with a fighting chance in the second half.

Half-Time: Robins 1-0 Wednesday

The first 45 provided little enthusiasm for Laws and the Owls’ coaching staff, and he was forced in to changing the side around at the break, Sean McAllister returning to the fold to replace Burton O’Brien at the interval.

And, for a short period at least, the changes seemed to inspire Wednesday to a number of chances after the restart as Bristol failed to carry their momentum in to the second half.

Burton and Marcus Tudgay showed glimpses of their former partnership in attack when the former threaded a ball through for Tudgay to smash an effort just wide of Basso’s goal.

And Graham Kavanagh almost provided the breakthrough for Wednesday as the on-loan Sunderland man provided the ammunition for sub McAllister to force Basso in to a diving save and lift the travelling army of Wednesdayites.

But you know what they say, when you’re down at the bottom nothing goes for you, and Wednesday found it out the hard way as their early second half pressure counted for little when the hosts doubled their advantage minutes later.

What the hosts lacked in pace in attack, they more than made up for in strength and presence as Adebola caused problems from a high ball and Bradley Orr smashed the loose ball in to the roof of the net to make it 2-0 and see the game almost dead and buried.

Wednesday showed little, of any, signs of a fightback and the match seemed to fade to a conclusion, although McIndoe could have made things worse for Laws and company but for Grant making another tip-top save to spare the Owls’ blushes.

And with the game almost up, Wednesday did found the back of the net but it was too little too late, Lee Bullen getting on the end of a Kavanagh free-kick to curle an effort beyond Basso and in to the back of the net.

Full-Time: Robins 2-1 Wednesday

Bristol City: Basso, Orr, Carey, McCombe, McAllister; Sproule, Johnson, Elliott (Skuse 89), McIndoe; Carle (Trundle 71); Adebola (Byfield 69). Unused subs: Fontaine, Weale.

Wednesday: Grant; Bullen, Hinds (Wood 86), Beevers, Gilbert; Small, Kavanagh, Bolder, O’Brien (McAllister 46); Burton, Tudgay (Boden 82). Unused subs: Burch, Wallwork.