Wednesday 0-0 Charlton
12/02/08 - 19:45
Die hard Wednesday fan Nicky Weaver was the hero as his wonder saves stopped the Owls bagging all three points against a lacklustre Charlton side on a chilly Tuesday night at Hillsborough.
Weaver, a self-confessed Wednesday fan who enjoyed a previous loan spell at S6, made three top drawer saves, the most important coming from a point-blank Lee Bullen effort, as Wednesday put in a much-improved performance against Alan Pardew's play-off chasing Addicks but still failed to grab a vital three points to lift them out of the Championship bottom three.
And the clash was watched in front of Hillsborough's lowest attendance of the season, 17,211, a sign of the current climate around the Owls.
Owls boss Brian Laws made four changes to the side that slipped to a 2-1 reverse at Bristol City at the weekend.
Tommy Spurr returned from suspension in his usual left-back role at the expense of Peter Gilbert, while Jermaine Johnson returned on the wing, Richard Wood made his long-awaited return to the heart of the defence, and Enoch Showunmi returned to parter Marcus Tudgay in the Wednesday attack.
Laws admitted before the match that he'd be happy with any kind of win from the match to lift the pressure on his troops, and they almost responded just a minute in to the match as Wade Small saw his shot well charged down inside the Charlton area.
But in an opening which saw chances come few and far between, the best chance for the visitors came as former Crewe man Varney sped clear of his marker before firing harmlessly wide of Lee Grant's goal.
The Owls were forced in to an early change when Graham Kavanagh was forced off through injury, with Ronnie Wallwork returning to the side to partner Adam Bolder in the centre of the Wednesday midfield.
And the change seemed to kill the game from an attacking point of view for Wednesday, with the pick of the chances falling to the visitors as Varney saw his close range effort come back of the post, and Darren Ambrose fired just wide after the Owls' defence gave the midfielder too much time on the ball.
But the best chance undoubtedly fell to Wednesday, as a long-ball found Showunmi who looked to have sent Weaver the wrong way, but the former Manchester City stopper reacted well to dive to his left and save the effort.
Half-Time: Wednesday 0-0 Charlton
Whatever Laws said to his troops at the interval certainly worked, with Wednesday coming out firing on all cylinders in the second half, and doing everything but score as they remained camped inside the Charlton half for long periods.
Tudgay, who was enjoying an improved personal performance and forging a strong link with Bristol City loanee Showunmi, was left unmarked on the edge of the box and he fired a warning effort towards Weaver on the resumption.
And the pressure continued as Showunmi went on a surging run down the left before linking well with Tudgay, who came inches from getting a touch on the ball.
Weaver had already made one superb save on the night but he saved his best for minutes later as a cross found its way to skipper Bullen, who turned and fired a powerful goal-bound effort which Weaver somehow turned away to Wallwork, with the danger eventually being cleared.
Showunmi was putting in a man-of-the-match performance for the Owls, causing the Charlton defence all kinds of problems with his probing runs, and he almost put the finishing touch on one such run before firing a powerful effort just wide of goal.
Charlton avoided a few goalmouth scrambles which you couldn't help but feel Akpo Sodje or Francis Jeffers would well have tucked away, but Wednesday couldn't find the breakthrough to the frustration of the majority inside Hillsborough.
But Charlton did have a few half chances to get an undeserved lead, Varney breaking free and firing in to the back of the net before being adjudged to be offside, while Zheng Zhi also came close from inside the box.
Alan Pardew will no doubt have been the happier manager after the match, and Wednesday will be able to take plenty of heart from their improved performance.
Full-Time: Wednesday 0-0 Charlton
Wednesday: Grant; Bullen, Wood, Beevers, Spurr; Johnson (Burton 89), Kavanagh (Wallwork 19), Bolder, Small; Showunmi, Tudgay. Substitutes: Gilbert, Hinds, McAllister.
Charlton: Weaver; Halford, Youga, (Semedo 44) McCarthy, Fortune; Sam (Cook 67), Holland, Zhi, Ambrose; Varney, Gray (Iwelumo 63). Substitutes: Elliot, Sodje.