FORMER Owl Kenwyn Jones ensured Wednesday had a winless January as he netted a brace to condemn Brian Laws and his side to a 2-1 defeat at St Mary’s on Tuesday night.
The Owls are yet to win in 2007 after a fantastic end to 2006, and although Steve Maclean levelled Jones’ opener on 52 minutes the visitors never really looked like getting anything from the game against a Southampton side boosted by the pre-match news that star player Gareth Bale was set to stay at St Mary’s – until the end of the season at least.
Laws welcomed defensive duo Frank Simek and Tommy Spurr back to the starting line-up after both players were suspended for the visit of Sunderland last week, but there was no place for Graham Coughlan as 17-year-old debutant Mark Beevers took his place alongside Lee Bulen at the heart of the Wednesday defence.
The hosts came out all guns blazing and launched attack upon attack on Mark Crossley’s goal – probably wanting swift revenge for the goalkeeper’s last minute leveller in the 3-3 draw at Hillsborough in Decembe.
And they were rewarded after just five minutes as Jones capitalised on some sloppy Owls defending to slot calmly by Crossley and open the deadlock to the delight of the majority of the 20,000-plus crowd inside St Mary’s. Lee Bullen should have done better with a through-ball and his former team-mate took advatange to steel home the opener.
Previously, both sides had goals ruled out with Steve Maclean adjudged to have been offside when he netted from close range while the returning Rudi Skacel was adjudged to have handballed en-route to goal by the linesman.
And Wednesday could have been thankful that the Saints didn’t extend the lead as they launch wave after wave of attacks upon the Owls goal. Mark Beevers was impressing in the Wednesday defence as he blocked a Jermaine Wright effort while Jones almost got a double but the Owls defence managed to clear the danger.
Jones, on-loan at Hillsborough to help Wednesday to promotion from League One, could have had a hat-trick in the opening half as first Mark Crossley dived low to save his powerful effort while Beevers was again on hand to thwart his effort on goal.
Wednesday’s chances were very few and far between but Marcus Tudgay had an effort blaze over the bar after confusion in the Saints defence, but the former Derby man was spared his blushes as the linesman raised his flag for offside.
Half-Time: Saints 1-0 Wednesday
Owls boss Brian Laws seemed to have strong words for his men at half-time as the Owls came out rejuvinated for the second period, creating more chances in the opening ten minutes of the half as they had for the rest of the game.
Lee Bullen had a great header saved on the line by the Saints stopper before Steve Maclean levelled proceedings on 52 minutes as he pounced on a loose ball to slot home after Marcus Tudgay had raced free and saw his shot well saved by Davis.
The goal lifted the Owls but they were soon behind once again as Kenwyne Jones netted his second goal of the evening and his fifth in four games against his former club as he rifled home a free header from close range from an inch-perfect cross from Baird.
Wednesday had a chance to level the scores once again just minutes later as the game turned in to an end-to-end affair but Marcus Tudgay – recently celebrating the birth of his son – could only shoot straight at Davis in the Saints goal.
Brian Laws brought on new-boy Leon Clarke for Wade Small and former Pompey striker Deon Burton for Steve Maclean, but Wednesday rather worringly failed to create any clear-cut chances and allowed Southampton a comfortable final 15 minutes to collect another victory.
Full-Time: Southampton 2-1 Wednesday
Saints: Davis; Baird, Lundekvam, Powell (Idiakez 57), Bale; Wright, Viafara, Pele, Skacel (McGoldrick 90+1); Jones (Wright-Phillips 73), Rasiak. Subs: Bialkowski, Ostlund.
Wednesday: Crossley; Simek, Bullen, Beevers, Spurr; Small (Clarke 70), Folly, Whelan, Brunt; Tudgay, MacLean (Burton 76). Subs: Adamson, Lunt, Graham.
Brian Laws tod BBC Sport:
George Burley told BBC Sport;
‘Kenwyne Jones was terrific. He scored two good goals and could have got a couple more. He is only 22 and still developing but he has learned a lot this season. Unfortunately he picked up an injury in the second half which meant he had to leave the field and is doubtful for a big game this weekend against Derby.
‘I am disappointed that the Sheffield Wednesday goal was allowed to stand. My goalkeeper has eight stud marks in his leg and I thought it should have been disallowed for a dangerous tackle.’