Date: 9th November 2008 at 10:45pm
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The Owls’ third South Yorkshire derby clash of the season was the dullest affair of them all, and arguably of the season, but Leon Clarke’s first half effort gave Wednesday three big points at Hillsborough on Saturday.

Although the game wasn’t a spectacle, Owls boss Brian Laws will just be pleased to end his side’s four-game run without a win against rock-bottom Rovers to move them up to tenth in the Championship ladder.

Former Wolves man Clarke got the goal, his third in five games, to make sure his name’s likely to be down on the teamsheet for next week’s meeting at Derby County.

But Rovers, despite being bottom of the Championship, put in a brave effort and could well have found the back of the net on more than one occassion had they had their shooting boots on – something that boss Sean O’Drisscoll will need to look at if his men are to avoid a swift return to League One.

Laws stuck with the same side that picked up a point at Crystal Palace last week, but moved Marcus Tudgay up front to give Leon Clarke a striker partner. Jermaine Johnson could only secure a place on the bench.

Laws had admitted that his side’s confidence had been somewhat ‘battered’ in recent weeks, and although a point at Selhurst Park the previous weekend will have helped confidence, it was lacking in the opening exchanges as Rovers anjoyed the majority of the possession and chances.

Sam Hird had the first effort for Rovers after just two minutes before midfielder Richie Wellans, returning to the Rovers side after missing their previous five matches, also saw an effort deflected over Grant’s goal by Mark Beevers.

With just Etienne Esajas offering the only attacking flair from the Wednesday midfield, the Owls saw chances hard to come by early on but James O’Connor did force Rovers’ stopper Neil Sullivan in to a fine save.

Although Wednesday’s confidence hadn’t been at its best in recent week, Clarke had seen his improve with appearances, and goals, in the last few outings, and he put in another improved performance in front of the Wednesday faithful.

The hosts were coming more in to it and Tudgay’s powerful effort forced Sullivan into another good save before Clarke bagged the decisive goal minutes before half-time.

The former Wolves man had fired a warning shot just minutes before Esajas provided an inch-perfect free-kick from out wide which Clarke was only too pleased to power in to the back of the net and give Laws a more comfortable half-time teamtalk.

Half-Time: Wednesday 1-0 Rovers

As has been present in previous matches this season, Wednesday have hardly ever looked comfortable on the ball, or without it, when defending a lead, and it was more of the same for the next 45 minutes that were to come.

The Keepmoat Stadium club have often been described as ‘the Arsenal of the Championship’, despite their league position, and they showed why in the second half by dominating possession but failing to turn it in to goals as Wednesday hung on.

Hird had a superb chance on the hour mark to level when he was left unmarked inside the Owls’ boss from a dangerous free-kick but his slid his chance just wide of goal when he looked more likely to put it the right side of the post.

Rovers made a double change in the second half with Lewis Guy and James Hayter both coming on for the visitors as they looked for that cutting edge in front of goal to get them on level terms.

Brian Stock and Wellens both saw half-chances come and go for Rovers and Wednesday fans inside Hillsborough were left biting their nails and venting their frustrations many times in the second 45.

Sean McAllister almost hit back but he slipped before firing an effort high and wide while Clarke put his cross too far for the on-rushing Tudgay with Wednesday attackers out-numbering the Rovers defence.

Jermaine Johnson was introduced for Wednesday, and he sparked some life into their attacking threats but was off-target when it came to shooting, firing a free-kick harmlessly over the bar.

Akpo Sodje’s introduction also did little to thwart the constant Rovers pressure but he did come inches away from converting a cross with the Owls on the counter attack.

At the other end the visitors continued to fight until the end, causing Wednesday a number of problems before the final whistle, and could count themselves unfortunate not to have grabbed any points.

Full-Time: Wednesday 1-0 Doncaster

Wednesday: Grant, Buxton (McMahon 46), Wood, Beevers, Spurr, McAllister, Watson, O’Connor, Esajas (Johnson 66), Clarke (Sodje 77), Tudgay. Unused substitutes: Burton, Small.

Doncaster: Sullivan, O’Connor, Roberts, Mills, Stock, Wilson (Hayter 46), Woods Guy 46), Wellens, Spicer, Hird, Price (Heffernan 84). Unused substitutes: Greer, Elliott.