It was a case of after the lord mayor’s show for the Owls as they were held to a 1-1 draw against Ian Holloway’s Argyle side in a dull mid-table encounter on a cold Tuesday night at Hillsborough.
With both sides safe from relegation and seemingly too far from a play-off spot, many Owls fans had envisaged a dull encounter before the match even started – and it didn’t let us down.
In fact the bright lights of the fair across the road almost seemed tempting to the majority of the near-20,000 Hillsborough crowd as both sides looked to go through the motions in what could have been mistaken for a friendly match on and off the pitch.
Owls boss Brian Laws made just the one change to the side that defeated Yorkshire rivals Leeds with Steve Maclean returning to the starting eleven in place of the suspended Marcus Tudgay.
But Argyle boss Ian Holloway made wholesale changes to the side that picked up a point against Stoke as the Pilgrims have one eye firmly on the weekend’s FA Cup quart-final clash with Watford at Home Park.
Wednesday continued their impressive performance at Elland Road at the weekend as they came firing out of the traps early on and probably should have taken the lead within a minute as Steve Maclean saw his shot deflected wide after the Argyle defence was left all at sea.
Pacey winger Jermaine Johnson went racing down the right hand side, and with Maclean and Brunt unmarked in the centre, picked out the Scot with a neat ball but he was unable to direct it goalwards as Argyle stopper Luke McCormick came rushing from his goal to thwart the danger.
Argyle also had a fine opportunity to break the deadlock minutes later at the other end as on-loan Owls stopper Iain Turner produced a magnificent save to push a Bojan Djordjic header wide for a corner to the amazement of the former Manchester United product.
Recent matches involving the Owls have been highly entertaining, and although the match as a whole was certainly no thriller, the opening exchanges saw the match flow from end-to-end with neither side able to break the other down in the final third.
And when the breakthrough did come – it came in controversial circumstances.
Chris Brunt broke free down the left-hand side and swung in a dangerous looking ball to the advancing Deon Burton and Maclean which seemed to be claimed by Plymouth stopper McCormick – but Burton stumbled in to the stopper forcing him to drop the ball and Maclean swept up and rattled the ball in to the empty net.
The majority of the near-20,000 Hillsborough crowd paused in wait for the referee’s whistle, but to their amazement the referee gave the goal and left Argyle boss Ian Holloway in raptures on the sidelines.
The Pilgrims were infuriated by the decision and had a decent spell of pressure on the Owls goal as former loanee Hasney Aljofree crashed an effort against Turner’s goal while former Sheffield United midfielder Lilian Nalis also saw his short drift just wide.
Half-Time: Wednesday 1-0 Plymouth
Neither side was able to create anything in front of goal ten minutes either side of the break but it was Holloway’s men who started to take the initiative as the game wore on – and the Wednesday legs seemed to tire.
And it was on 56 minutes when the FA Cup quarter-finalists found the breakthrough and deservedly levelled the scores through youngster Dan Gosling.
No doubt Brian Laws will have words to say to his defenders in training after the match as poor marking from a Peter Halmosi cross allowed Gosling the space and time to direct a neat volley by Turner and keep the horrific record of no clean sheets in 2007 going for the hosts.
But the Owls could have retained the lead just minutes later as Richard Wood looked to make amends as he burst in to the Argyle box and beat the offside trap – but produced a typical central defender’s finish and fired well over the bar from ten yards out.
Wednesday took a blow as Jermaine Johnson – although a passenger for most of the second half – limped off through injury to be replaced by Wade Small.
Both Owls strikers had chances to win the game in the latter stages as Steve Maclean thrashed a shot just wide from outside the box while Deon Burton was left kicking himself after missing the best chance of the second-half with a header from a Brunt corner.
Sub Wade Small also had a decent chance as Argyle stopper McCormick punched the ball clear but left his goal unguarded, but the former MK Dons winger couldn’t direct his effort goalwards. Steve Watson was also on the end of a fine Wednesday move but his low shot went inches wide of the goal.
Argyle also had their chances at the other end and probably looked the more likely to snatch a late win as they enjoyed the better of the possession late on, and Gosling came closest to doubling his tally for the evening but Iain Turner was on hand to thwart his effort.
Full-Time: Wednesday 1-1 Plymouth
Wednesday: Turner, Bullen, Wood, Simek, Spurr, Whelan, Brunt, Watson, Johnson (Small 69), MacLean, Burton (Graham 72). Subs Not Used: Adamson, Lunt, Gilbert.
Plymouth: McCormick, Aljofree, Doumbe, Capaldi, Connolly, Nalis (Hodges 71), Norris, Halmosi, Gosling, Djordjic (Sinclair 71), Fallon. Subs Not Used: Gallen, Sawyer, Summerfield.
Brian Laws told BBC Sport:
‘It was a case of after the lord mayor’s show, we had a lot of tired legs out there.
‘Deon Burton had been laid low with sickness and diarrhoea, but wanted to play, which is of great credit to him.
‘I’ve not seen a replay of our goal but it was bizarre, it will be interesting to hear what the referee has to say.’
Ian Holloway told BBC Sport:
‘I don’t think anyone would have been bothered if he’d blown for a foul.
‘It looked like Burton was fired out of a cannon and knocked him over.
‘The ref and linesman said they didn’t see it. Hopefully what goes around comes around and we’ll get some luck.’