Date: 19th April 2010 at 4:40pm
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WEDNESDAY remain in the relegation mire after having to settle for a share of the spoils in the 125th Steel City derby at Hillsborough on Sunday.

The Owls took the lead just before half-time through Darren Potter before Lee Williamson’s free-kick on the resumption found its way into the back of the net for the leveller in fortunate circumstances.

It wasn’t the result that Wednesday, or United, wanted in what was a derby clash to forget in terms of quality and chances in front of over 35,000 fans in S6.

Kevin Blackwell brought his troops to Hillsborough with nothing but pride to play for as they looked to complete a league ‘double’ over their rivals following last season’s double for the Owls.

Wednesday , on the other hand, had much more than just local pride to play for, with three points crucial in their battle against relegation from the Championship.

The Owls made just one change to the side that lost at Middlesbrough last time out with Leon Clarke returning to the attack in place of Tom Soares who dropped the bench, Jermaine Johnson was deemed fit enough to start.

The game started in typically frantic fashion, with both sets of supporters urging their side on in the early exchanges.

It was United that had the brighter start, forcing a number of corners but failing to test Lee Grant as United kicked towards the Leppings Lane end in the first half.

The visitors’ aerial presence was clear to see, but Wednesday defended the early set pieces comfortably without really causing much of a threat at the other end.

Darius Henderson had the first shot on target with a header that deflected off Darren Purse and the post before the Owls cleared the danger and started enjoying more of the ball.

But, as desperate Wednesday were for the points, it was those in red and white that looked like they wanted the game more – pressing the Wednesday players constantly and forcing the hosts into numerous mistakes.

Neither side could really get into their stride but Luke Varney had the first effort on target for Wednesday with a low effort that was straight at United stopper Steve Simonsen.

Chances were few and far between but former Owl Richard Cresswell had another good chance for the visitors but wasted his opportunity when firing wide of Lee Grant.

At the other end Tommy Spurr should have done better with a free header from a Potter corner kick as the half evened out as the minutes ticked by.

There wasn’t much of Johnson in the action though, with the visitors keeping the Jamaican pretty quiet throughout the match, and it showed in Wednesday’s lack of creativity.

There hadn’t been much quality in the match but all that changed as the Owls swooped into a 1-0 lead just three minutes before half-time.

Varney got free on the left and produced a pin-point cross for Potter to arrive just outside the six yard box to drill home a volley and send the Hillsborough crowd into a frenzy.

It gave Alan Irvine’s men a huge boost and came at just the right time for the hosts.

Half-Time: Wednesday 1-0 United

Wednesday had the momentum on the restart but they couldn’t continue where they left off as the visitors came flying out of the traps at the start of the second half.

The game spiced up somewhat when James O’Connor and Stephen Quinn squared up following a foul by the Owls midfielder which resulted in a yellow card for both players.

And from the resulting free-kick Quinn forced Grant into a good save with a low effort which had plenty of power but went straight at the Wednesday number one.

And the leveller came on the hour mark in fortunate circumstances.

Wednesday could have argued that the free-kick given by referee Chris Foy four a challenge on Cresswell just outside the box was a weak one to give, the former Owl certainly made the most of the challenge.

Lee Williamson stepped up to send in the cross but it ended up finding the far corner of Grant’s goal and deflecting into the back of the net off the post to make it 1-1.

The Owls knew they needed more than a point from their clash with their old foes if they were to climb out of the bottom three and the onus was back with the hosts.

And Johnson tried to respond by jinxing by two markers before firing an effort over the bar before Chris Morgan dived in to deny Varney inside the box as the Owls looked to regain the lead.

Henri Camara’s introduction eight minutes into the second half gave United a new attacking option and he went on a good run down the left before sending a low cross across the face of goal but no visiting attackers could get on the end of it.

Blackwell’s men upped their gear in the final 20 minutes and Purse had to deny Kamara with a fine last-ditch challenge as Wednesday struggled to mount any serious pressure on Simonsen’s goal.

Irvine’s only change of the match came with eleven minutes to go when Clarke was replaced by Tom Soares.

But it did little to change the attacking fortunes of the hosts as they searched desperately for a winner.

But in the last five minutes Wednesday did throw the proverbial kitchen sink at the visiting goal.

Varney came close but the best chance for the hosts went to Johnson, but the Jamaican smashed his effort carelessly over the bar when he was in on goal.

It was too little too late for the Owls though, with a stalemate probably being a fair reflection on the game.

It leaves Wednesday needing to get a positive result from their tough-looking trip to Cardiff City for their penultimate game of the season on Saturday.

Full-Time: Wednesday 1-1 United