Another home match and another frustrating night for Owls fans as Wednesday again failed to pick up a first victory of the season against a stubborn Stoke City side in the Championship.
Substitute Martin Paterson opened the deadlock for the visitors just after the half hour mark after breaking free of the Owls intended offside trap to slot under the legs of stopper Brad Jones. But a Chris Brunt penalty ten minutes later levelled the scores before a poor second half meant there was only ever going to be one result.
Owls boss Paul Sturrock made just the one change to the side that drew 0-0 against Southend United at the weekend. Steve Adams was rested after returning from injury with Chris Brunt coming back into the side. Deon Burton continued in attack alongside Marcus Tudgay while Brunt moved into his preferred left-wing role and loanee Lloyd Sam played on the right.
And the Owls got off to a positive start after Sturrock had promised the Owls faithful for ‘weird and wonderful’ attacking football after the Owls were the lowest scorers in the Championship before the evening’s football events.
Tony Pulis’ game plan was halted just eight minutes in to the game when he had to change his hand following an injury to key man Vincent Pericard. Martin Paterson came on to replace the former Portsmouth striker.
And the Owls had the best chance of the first half as they shot towards the Kop in the first half – an unpopular decision with the near-20,000 crowd at Hillsborough. Marcus Tudgay wriggled free of the Stoke defence but sliced his powerful effort wide of the Stoke goal.
Frank Simek then saw his long-range effort drift wide of Simonsen’s goal after linking well with Sam down the right hand side. Wednesday certainly weren’t going ‘gung ho’ but there attacking football was a lot more sleek than usual with some fine cross field balls being sprayed around the pitch.
But the visitor’s had their own chances and probably looked the more dangerous when flooding forward in numbers. Luke Chadwick saw his effort go agonisingly over the bar when Brad Jones punched clear a Stoke corner.
Paul Sturrock was left fuming with yet another Premiership referee after the Owls had a first-half penalty shout waved away. Marcus Tudgay capitalised on some sloppy Stoke defending and his effort was seemingly blocked by a Stoke hand en-route to goal.
Wednesday had the best chance of the match minutes later when Madjod Bougherra saw his powerful close-range effort turned over the bar in emphatic style from a dangerous Chris Brunt corner.
But it was the visitors who took the lead on 34 minutes when sub Paterson broke free of the Owls defence as they played for offside. But the linesman kept his flag down to the dismay of the Owls fans and the Stoke hitman calmly slotted the ball under the legs of Brad Jones in the Owls goal. Sturrock was again left wondering why the referee had failed to spot a foul on Marcus Tudgay in the run-up to the goal.
But Wednesday didn’t have long to wait for the equaliser and it came as Hill appeared to handle the ball in the Owls box. Chris Brunt stepped up and levelled the scores just before the break – but the Owls faithful had still to see a goal from open play at Hillsborough.
Wednesday came out of the traps the quickest in the second half and Chris Brunt – slammed for his recent performances by Owls’ fans – was at the centre of Wednesday’s attacking play. He saw a long-range effort glide over the bar before his dangerous left-flank cross forced a superb defensive header from Hill to clear the danger behind for a corner.
Brunt then linked well from a well-worked corner and saw a powerful goal-bound effort blocked by the Stoke defence. Glenn Whelen also saw a fine effort go just wide of Simonsen’s goal.
An injury to the linesman which saw the fourth official come on as ‘substitute’ raised a cheer among an otherwise dull second period when neither side could break down the defence.
But the best chance of the gamecame with just two minutes remaining as Marcus Tudgay found himself ina great position to get the Owls’ first victory of the season on home soil but his effort went just wide of goal to make for another frustrating night in front of goal for the Owls.
The result leaves the Owls without a win at Hillsborough so far this season and sits them in 19th in the Championship after seven games. The good news for Paul Sturrock’s men is that they can shoot up the table with victory at lowly Hull on Friday night – but with Phil Parkinson’s men picking up their first victory of the season at Leicester City it will be a tough task.
Paul Sturrock told the official SWFC site:
‘The players can do no more. They’ve been absolutely magnificent since the start of the season and given everything for the cause. Their keeper’s made a couple of good saves but Tudgay’s chance at the end of the 90 minutes was the key to the game.’
‘We could have crumbled but we rolled our sleeves up and got back into it. We played with width and tried to get the full-backs forward. Frank Simek did very well and got crosses in the box but we couldn’t get anyone on the end of them. I just wish one or two of our strikers could get a goal.’
Tony Pulis told BBC Sport:
‘We created good opportunities. I was desperately disappointed with the penalty decision, which I thought was very soft.
‘The Wednesday crowd do make some decisions go their way.
‘It was a commendable performance given the problems we have with players out. I thought we played good football.’