Date: 23rd August 2006 at 11:23pm
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PAUL STURROCK’S dream of a cash-boosting cup run came to an abrupt end in the Carling Cup first round as the Owls crashed out of the competition after losing 4-1 at home to League Two side Wrexham.

The Owls boss had emphasised the importance of a good run in the cup competitions to boost finances at Hillsborough and boost team morale ahead of the big Yorkshire derby clash with Leeds United on Bank Holiday Sunday.

But two goals in six first-half minutes put the Dragons on the way to a memorable night for the visiting fans – and gave the majority of the 8,000 strong crowd a night to quickly forget.

Sturrock made a shock inclusion in the starting line-up by giving young striker Luke Boden his debut in the famous blue and white shirt. Sean McAllister also secured a starting place after his goal against Plymouth at the weekend. Chris Adamson replaced the cup-tied Brad Jones in goal while Lee Bullen returned from suspension to replace Graham Coughlan in the heart of defence. There were also to be runouts for striker David McClements and Matthew Bowman.

Wednesday were creating the better of the chances in the opening exchanges and Chris Brunt saw two long-range efforts well saved by the Ingham in the Wrexham goal. The visitors had their fair share of chances though and Neil Roberts forced a good save from Adamson in the Wednesday goal. Chris Llewellyn also saw a shot flash wide.

Wrexham then made the breakthrough just after the half hour mark when Roberts netted a close-range effort. Despite the appeals from the Wednesday defence and fans behind the goal for what looked like a blatent hand-ball the referee gave the goal to the delight of the travelling Welsh army.

And the Owls didn’t have time to catch breathe as captain Lee Bullen slipped up in defence to allow Chris Llewellyn to run towards the Owls goal from the halfway line and cooly slot Wrexham’s second passed Chris Adamson to make it 2-0.

Sturrock changed his hand in the second half by moving Lee Bullen into attack alongside Chris Brunt, with youngster Luke Boden moving back to midfield. Tommy Spurr moved to partner Madjid Bougherra in the centre of defence with John Hills moving to left-back.

And the change almost worked instantly for the Owls as Chris Brunt headed just over after Hills provided a decent cross for the Northern Ireland international. Wednesday continued to push forward to find a way into the game but the stubborn Wrexham defence was giving as good as it got and limited the hosts to half-chances around the box.

And the game was put to bed just after the hour mark as Wrexham made it 3-0 thanks to a Matty Done goal after a scramble in the Wednesday penalty box.

Sturrock gave debuts to David McClements and Matthew Bowman late on for the Owls. And when Glenn Whelen’s long-range effort found the back of the Wrexham net the Owls had a glimmer of hope.

But any thoughts of a great escape among the Owls faithful were dashed with five minutes left on the clock when Mark Jones cut inside to a curn a good effort passed Adamson to give the visitors a 4-1 victory.

Wednesday: C Adamson, F Simek, M Bougherra, L Bullen, J Hills, K Lunt, G Whelan, S McAllister (D McClements 66), C Brunt, T Spurr, L Boden (M Bowman 75).
Subs Not Used: R O’Donnell, R McArdle, L McMenamin.

Wrexham: M Ingham, S Spender (G Evans 89), M Williams, S Pejic (L Roche 87), R Valentine, Mark Jones, D Williams, M Crowell (L Mackin 73), M Done, N Roberts, C Llewellyn.
Subs Not Used: Michael Jones, J Newby.
Paul Sturrock told the SWFC website:
‘I won’t make any excuses. We still had 11 players to run out for Sheffield Wednesday and I would expect to win with any team of mine. Eight of the 16 were eligible for the youth team but they didn’t let us down in any way.’

‘Although we wanted a Cup run there was no way I was going to take a chance on Coughlan, O’Brien or Burton. It tasted of the Southampton game last season and there seemed to be some apprehension in one or two of the senior players when Cocko and Bobo were ruled out.’

‘The players have done very well before now this season and maybe we’ve gone to the well too often. A few players have had to do so much and I’ve had to stick my finger in the dyke too many times. We’ll get back on the training ground on Friday and Saturday but I’m sure nobody will need motivating for the weekend.’