Date: 22nd March 2008 at 6:23pm
Written by:

Wednesday dropped two points in the battle against the drop as Matt Lawrence headed a late, late leveller in the snow for Neil Warnock’s Crystal Palace in a four-goal clash at Hillsborough.

Goals from Ben Sahar and Wade Small looked to have secured the Owls a vital, and much deserved three points against Warnock’s charges, but for the second home game this month a late strike dented Wednesday when they should have held on for all three points.

With Marcus Tudgay picking up an injury in training, Owls boss Brian Laws gave Chelsea loanee Ben Sahar his first start in a blue and white shirt since making the switch to S6, while Steve Watson’s return to the squad following injury was the only other change to the side that drew at Coventry last week.

Both sides had pressure on for totally different reasons, but the game started in comical fashion as Sahar’s tackle on a Palace defender saw the linesman knocked to the floor to the delight of those sat in the Kop.

The blustery conditions weren’t helping either side, and with the conditions getting worse throughout the match, both sides knew that had to take their chances when they came.

Both sides hit the woodwork in the opening exchanges, Clinton Morrison almost breaking the bar with his powerful effort which had Grant well beaten, while Owls youngster Sean McAllister also saw his long-range effort come off the bar and out for a goal-kick in an even opening.

With the conditions as they were neither side played any flowing football, but it was the best move of the match to date whichsaw Wednesday opening the scoring in fine style as Sahar bagged his first goal for the club.

A neat one-twobetween the Chelsea man and Burton saw Sahar superbly take the ball in to his stride before producing a cool finish under the Palace stopper and racing away to the Wednesday fans behind the goal after just 18 minutes.

Palace had shown little in front of goal apart from Morrison’s strike, but they almost levelled minutes later had it not been for the superb save from the in-form Grant.

The Owls number one picked up the man-of-the-match gong for his performance against Coventry last week and he needed to be at the top of his game to make a superb save from Hill to deflect his header for a corner.

The Owls looked to have done more than enough to take the lead in to half-time but Ben Watson produced a superb free-kick from the edge of the box to give Grant no chance and level the scores on 40 minutes.

Half-Time: Wednesday 1-1 Palace

Palace were expected to come out in the second half all-guns-blazing after their 40th minute leveller but it was Wednesday who came flying out of the traps and were unlucky not to regain their lead in a superb spell of pressure which lasted a good 20 minutes with Palace offering little in response.

Portsmouth loanee Frank Songo’o had looked dangerous in the first half and it was almost his quick thinking that got Wednesday back in front when he let loose a superb long-range strike which almost caught the Palace stopper by surprise but he managed to palm away the effort.

And Wade Small then had arguably the chance of the match when some good work from Kavanagh put the former MK Dons man in, but instead of taking a touch he hit a first time effort which went across the face of goal.

The game seemed to fizzle out after the hour mark with chances drying up, but Wednesday took a deserved lead on 68 minutes when Small was sent free down the left and he did superbly well to go by his marker and somehow put the ball in the back of the net from an acute angle.

Small raced away to the South Stand in celebration but promptly got a booking for taking his shirt off.

Wednesday should have made the game all-but safe through Sahar, as he first tried to riggle his way through the Palace defence before launching a powerful effort over the bar, and then some fine work from Hinds down the right pulled the ball back to the Israel international but he scuffed his short and it went harmlessly wide to the frustration of Owls boss Brian Laws.

The heavens opened in the latter stages with the snow pouring down at S6, making any kind of fine football near-on impossible.

And it was certainly pouring on the Wednesday faithful come the final whistle as Wednesday failed to hold on to their lead, Palace earning a succession of corners which eventually saw Lawrence force the ball home from close range to give the visitors a share of the spoils in the 93rd minute.

Full-Time: Wednesday 2-2 Palace

Wednesday: Grant, Hinds, Wood, Beevers, Spurr, Songo’o, Kavanagh, McAllister, Small (Showunmi 87), Sahar, Burton. Unused substitutes: Burch, O’Brien, Watson, Bolder.

Palace: Speroni, Lawrence, Hill, Hudson, Fonte, Derry (Robinson 77), Soares (Danns 59), Watson, Scannell (Hughes 86), Scowcroft, Morrison. Unused substitutes: Fletcher, Hughes, Kudjodji.