It was another frustrating afternoon for the Owls despite netting their first goal of the season and earning a point against a Burnley side currently opening top spot in the Championship.
Steve Maclean netted Wednesday’s first goal of the season after a mazy Frank Simek run into the Clarets box resulted in the American being felled. But Burnley equalised with just eight minutes left on the clock thanks to substitute James O’Connor.
The result leaves Paul Sturrock pondering his options ahead of the trip to his former club Plymouth Arglye in a weeks time, as Wednesday look to bag their first victory of the season on the South coast.
Owls boss Paul Sturrock opted to play wingbacks for the game after midfielder Yoann Folly was cruelly ruled out for six weeks earlier in the week. Tommy Spurr was brought in to play alongside Graham Coughlan and Madjid Bougherra in a back three while Frank Simek and John Hills occupied the right and left wings respectively.
Kenny Lunt, Burton O’Brien and the much improved Glenn Whelen played as the middle three with Chris Brunt returning to support sole striker Steve Maclean in the Owls attack.
Young defender Rory McArdle was brought in to the squad alongside fellow youth striker Luke Boden. New signing Wade Small was again left on the bench despite the current injury crisis at the club and he joined Sean McAllister to make up the Owls 16.
Steve Cotterill’s Burnley side were unchanged from the impressive midweek victory over Leicester City, with former Sheffield United players Jon Harley and Andy Gray returning to Sheffield.
Wednesday: Jones, Coughlan, Hills, Simek, Bougherra, Whelan, O’Brien, Brunt, Spurr, MacLean (McAllister 88), Lunt (Small 84). Subs Not Used: Adamson, McArdle, Boden.
Burnley: Jensen, Thomas, Harley, Sinclair, Duff, Mahon (Lafferty 68), Elliott (James O’Connor 76), McCann, Hyde, Jones (Foster 90), Gray. Subs Not Used: McGreal, Garreth O’Connor.
Burnley brought a large following contingent to Hillsborough following their impressive start to the new Championship campaign and Burnley’s confidence quickly transferred from the stands to the pitch as former Wigan midfielder Alan Mahon pulled the strings in midfield for the Clarets.
Former Crewe man Kenny Lunt posed the first real threat for the Owls as his inswinging corner nearly found the feet of striker Steve Maclean.
At the other end, Alan Maho found former Blade Jon Harley on the overlap, and the former United partnership nearly gave the visitors lead but Gray’s headed effort went harmlessly over Brad Jones’s goal.
Burton O’Brien then summed up the Owls luck in front of goal when he hit the woodwork. The South African broke free after capitalising on a slip from Chris McCann slip, but his looping 20-yard effort cannoned back off the woodwork.
The effort lifted the 22,400 strong Owls crowd and the Owls then pushed forward again 10 minutes before the break to produce the move of the match. The improved Steve Maclean played a neat one-two with Burton O’Brien before putting Brunt though on goal. But his sliding effort looped over Jenson in the Burnley net and somehow came back off the bar for a second time.
Wednesday were pushing their visitors back and they didn’t want half time to come. The hard-working Glenn Whelen sprinted down the right hand side to produce a fine cross for O’Brien but his tame header went over Jenson’s goal.
Half-Time: Wednesday 0-0 Burnley
Wednesday started the second half as they left off the first, by putting pressure on the Burnley goal. Kenny Lunt provided an early corner that was loose in the Burnley box. Madjid Bougherra stuck out a leg but Jenson was equal to his effort and the Clarets defence cleared the ball to safety.
The Owls then thought they’d scored their first of the season when Steve Maclean headed home from close range. But the referee ruled Graham Coughlan to have pushed a Clarets defender before supplying Maclean with the cushioned header.
The breakthrough finally came for the Owls on the 66th minute when Frank Simek went on a mazy run into the Burnley box before being felled by a clumsy challenge from Jon Harley. Steve Maclean walked up and sent the ‘keeper the wrong way to celebrate in front of a relieved Hillsborough Kop.
Clarets boss Steve Cotterill had to make some changes to change the flow of the came as he looked to keep his sides unbeaten start to the season in tact.
And it was substitute James O’Connor who delivered the crushing blow to over 20,000 Wednesdayites with just eight minutes left on the clock. Frank Sinclair provided the cross for Chris McCann to nod down before O’Connor slotted home from six yards in front of the 1,700 travelling Clarets fans.
Paul Sturrock immediately brought on Wade Small in a bid to change the game back in the Owls favour, and Small almost made the perfect entrance as he dribbled passed a number of Burnley players before eventually losing the ball.
Chris Brunt also had a golden opportunity to regain the lead for the Owls as Steve Maclean broke free down the right hand side. It seemed as though the Burnley defence were still asleep as Brunt and O’Brien were left unmarked in the Burnley box. But Brunt’s tired effort went sailing over the bar for a goal kick.
Wednesday fans will be sweating on the fitness of Steve Maclean – the only fit striker at S6 – over the next few days though as the striker limped off with a knee injury late on.
There was still time for action in the last few minutes as former United striker Andy Gray saw red for a kicking the ball away, and recieved a second booking to the delight of the Hillsborough faithful.
Full-Time: Wednesday 1-1 Burnley
It may be seen as two points dropped from Owls fans, but Paul Sturrock’s make-shift side more than matched an impressive Burnley side who top the Championship and are likely to finish up around the play-offs this time around.
Wednesday produced a decent display infront of their home fans and could have so easily come away with all three points had the current injury crisis been so bad. One thing is as clear as ever – we need a striker, and fast.
Although the Clarets looked dangerous around the Owls box, the Aussie didn’t have much to do.
Had a tough time against Andy Gray but coped with the former Blades man well. Looks composed while in the ball and tries his best to play it out rather than hoof it out.
Have to give the lad credit in his first full game in a back three with the club. Did everything he had to well and has a bright future at the club.
Forming a good partnership at the back alongside Bougherra. Has thankfully remained injury free!
His burst forward in to the Burnley box earned the Owls penalty after the break.
Another poor game from the left-back, but will give him the benefit of the doubt after missing pre-season with injury. Will hopefully come good in the coming weeks.
Another impressive performance from Whelen. Seems to be a different player this term and long may it continue.
Played his best game for the Owls. Made some intelligent through balls which unfortunately didn’t match our players hoofball technique!
Another competant performance from BOB in the centre of the park. Saw a good long range effort strike the bar.
Macca is looking really good despite playing upfront on his own. Will benefit when someone comes in alongside him. Some neat touched and great passing gives the Owls something extra.
An improvement on recent performances but could have made things so much better had he not blazed his six-yard effort over the bar late on.
Looked fast when on the ball – exactly what Wednesday are looking for. Will hopefully make his full debut in the coming weeks.
Didn’t have much time to impress after coming on as a late sub for the injured Maclean.
Paul Sturrock told SWFC.co.uk:
‘We’ve played three games with a depleted squad and we’ve been competent in all three. We just can’t put the damn thing in the net at this moment in time. We’ve hit the bar twice and had half chances flashing across the goals. It just shows what a clinical striker can do for a football club. Hopefully our strike force will come back sooner rather than later.’
‘These boys have got to keep their heads up. We’re asking young boys to do mens’ jobs and they’re coming in and giving their all.’
Tommy Spurr told SWFC.co.uk:
‘I thought we played well and were unlucky to come away with one point instead of three. We had a number of chances, hit the crossbar twice and went close with a few efforts.’
‘Everyone worked for each other so it was a blow when they scored. We tried to get another goal but it wasn’t to be.’