Date: 9th August 2006 at 9:29am
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The Owls failed to get off to a winning start at Hillsborough following a frustrating 1-0 defeat at the hands of Mike Newell’s Luton Town on Wednesday evening.

Paul Sturrock’s men were hoping to build on the promising 0-0 draw at Preston North End on Saturday but were frustrated in front of goal despite creating numerous chances in attack.

The defeat leaves the Owls boss with some thinking to do ahead of the clash with Burnley at Hillsborough on Saturday with still no goals and little to offer in attack.

Team News:

Following the sending off of Lee Bullen at Deepdale and the failure to get the Scots three-match ban overturned, Owls boss Paul Sturrock opted to give former Crewe midfielder Kenny Lunt his full debut playing just behind sole striker Steve Maclean in attack.

Chris Brunt moved back to the right-hand side of midfield with Burton O’Brien on the left and Yoann Folly partnering Glenn Whelen in the centre of midfield.

On-loan Middlesbrough stopper Brad Jones and Madjid Bougherra also made their home debuts for the club while Frank Simek, Graham Coughlan and John Hills made up the rest of the defence.

Meanwhile Luton boss Mike Newell had the luxury of naming an unchanged side after picking up an opening day victory over Leicester City at Kenilworth Road.

Left-back Sol Davis made the trip up the M1 after there were doubts surrounding his fitness after being taken off in their 2-0 victory on Saturday. Chris Coyne made the bench replacing Ahmet Brkovic.

Wednesday: Jones, Coughlan, Hills, Simek, Bougherra, Whelan, O’Brien (Spurr 86), Brunt, Folly (McAllister 79), Lunt (Small 63), MacLean.
Subs Not Used: Adamson, McClements.

Luton: Beresford, Foley, Davis (Coyne 86), Barnett, Heikkinen, Robinson, Langley, Edwards, Emanuel, Vine (Boyd 85), Feeney.
Subs Not Used: Brill, Perrett, Morgan.

The Match:

The game began with a frantic pace and the visitors nearly took the lead just one minute in when former Owls target Carlos Edwards had his effort well saved by Brad Jones. John Hills then scrambled away Warren Feeney’s follow-up.

As expected with an early season clash the game was end to end with Luton on a high from their opening day victory and the Owls hoping to get a victory in front of the 22,000 strong crowd to kick-start their season.

Lone striker Steve Maclean was doing his best to hold up the ball in the Owls attack and almost found the breakthrough when he turned his marker at the edge of the box but his effort went harmlessly wide of Marlon Beresford’s goal.

The Hatters were getting the better of the chances early in the game though and Wednesday had Brad Jones to thank again on eight minutes when Carlos Edwards’ deep cross was headed back across the goal by Lewis Emanuel by Feeney saw his shot blocked at point-blank range by the Australian.

Maclean was still giving as good as the Owls were getting though when on the half an hour mark he saw a long-range effort comfortably saved from Beresford in the Luton goal. The former Rangers man then headed a Chris Brunt corner just over the visitors goal.

Burton O’Brien then had the best chance of the game for the Owls as an excellence pass from Maclean put the former Livingston man through on goal. O’Brien’s first touch was poor though and Beresford got down to save well from the midfielder.

Luton got the breakthrough just a minute before half time and against the run of play. New signing Lewis Emanuel from Bradford City gave the Hatters the lead just before the break when his long range deflected effort went low passed Brad Jones to make it 1-0 to Luton at half-time.

Wednesday came out all guns blazing in the second half looking for the breakthrough, and although they were playing some good football their first real chance didnt come until the 56th minute when Steve Maclean’s tame header was easily saved by Beresford. Kenny Lunt also saw a penalty appeal turned down in front of the Wednesday Kop.

Paul Sturrock gave Wade Small his home debut just after the hour mark replacing Kenny Lunt. Chris Brunt pushed forward to support Maclean in attack with Small playing in his familiar right-wing role.

The changes made little difference to the Owls attacking options though, and if anything fizzled out the threat Wednesday posed by outnumbering their opponents in the middle of the park.

As long as Wednesday kept attacking though, Luton always looked dangerous on the counter attack and could have made the game safe just after the hour mark when Carlos Edwards got the better oh John Hills and provided a good pass to Warren Feeney. But the Northern Ireland international saw his shot well saved by Jones.

The Owls were getting desperate and were throwing bodies forward in search of the equaliser. Graham Coughlan pushed in to the attack alongside Steve Maclean, and Glenn Whelen saw a smashing long-range drive deflected just round the post with 10 minutes remaining.

More bad news was to come for Wednesday though as man-of-the-match Yoann Folly was stretchered off with just under 10 minutes remaining. Sturrock couldn’t believe his luck after a number of injury blows already sustained in the pre-season that’s left the squad at it’s bare bones. Sean McAllister replaced the Frenchman.

With four minutes stoppage time added on Wednesday had two good appeals for penalties turned down to the disgust of the 22,000 strong crowd. First Steve Maclean was handled inside the box before what looked to be a clear push on Graham Coughlan was overlooked by the man in black.
Paul Sturrock told BBC Sport:
‘The last one (on Graham Coughlan) looked a penalty from where I was and that was the fourth or fifth penalty claim.
‘I’m gutted for the players. It’s the most dominant performance I think we’ve had since I’ve got here.

‘Thirty crosses and 20 shots in the game, the problem being we didn’t hit the target enough.’

Mike Newell told BBC Sport:
‘You know you’re going to have a spell sooner or later when you’re not picking up anything no matter how well you’re playing.

‘So it just takes that little bit of pressure off in the first week.

‘Although it wasn’t pretty, you can’t expect it to be after two games of the season. We’ve ground out a result.’