Barnsley 0-0 Wednesday
01/03/07 - 15:00
Wednesday put the talk of a multi-million pound takeover to one side to pick up a useful point against a Barnsley side who looked to have one eye firmly on next week's FA Cup quarter final clash with Chelsea.
The Owls have had the upper hand over their South Yorkshire rivals in recent encounters and boss Brian Laws and the 6,000-plus travelling support would have fancied their chances against a Barnsley side that has been in indifferent form of late.
But Owls fans were left pleased at leaving Oakwell with a point after much of the excitement fell off the pitch this week, with Laws and his charges no doubt being somewhat distracted with the press speculation regarding a takeover.
Richard Hinds continued at right-back following an injury to Lee Bullen last week while Peter Gilbert continued at left-back and Burton O'Brien came in to replace the suspended Jermaine Johnson, and Enoch Showunmi and Marcus Tudgay continued in attack with Ben Sahar having to settle for a place on the bench again.
But despite the pre-match build-up for what is, after all, Barnsley's 'cup final' of the season, the clash failed to live up to expectations and began in dull fashion, much in the same vein as the initial clash at Hillsborough which saw an Akpo Sodje goal decide the tie.
But unlike that midweek game and the strength and pace of Sodje, the Owls posed little threat in front of the Barnsley goal, with the Wednesday strike duo huffing and puffing but failing to even move the Barnsley house.
Wednesday edged the possession but it was former Preston and Derby man Jon Macken who came closest in the opening exchanges when he wrong-footed his man and launched a powerful effort which went just sailing wide of Lee Grant's goal.
Chances came few and far between for both sides, with the windy conditions causing trouble for the long balls being played by both sides.
But a free-kick from Graham Kavanagh caused chaos in the Barnsley box and the Reds stopper was forced to tip a point-blank range effort over the bar from his own defender Stephen Foster.
Tensions did flair midway through the second-half when Wade Small was harshly booked for diving, before Bobby Hassell also went in to the book for a late challenge on Tudgay, while former Blade Rob Kozluk also got a yellow for the same offence.
And Wednesday finished the half in control, dominating possession and almost finding a breakthrough as Richard Wood somehow sent a header over the bar from metres out after a dangerous free-kick.
Barnsley 0-0 Wednesday
Fans waiting for a second-half onslaught from either side were left waiting with disappointment as the second-half started in much the same vein as the first, with little action at either end and a midfield battle doing little to keep the fans entertained.
Ben Sahar was brought in to the fold early in the second half as Brian Laws tried to change the flow of the game to the Owls' advantage, and it worked to an extent with the Chelsea loanee looking to run at the stubborn Barnsley defence.
Wednesday had a penalty appeal turned down in the first half and they had another early in the second half as loanee Adam Bolder was put in the book for what the referee deemed a dive, despite the contesting of the decision from Bolder and his Wednesday team-mates.
Sahar did go on a driving run at the heart of the Barnsley defence but was halted at the last challenge as the match became a tad more open than the preceding minutes.
Probably the best chance of the match for Wednesday fell to Burton O'Brien on the edge of the box but his effort went straight in to the hands of the Barnsley stopper, the chance summed up the lacklustre encounter which unfolded before the 18,000-plus crowd.
Barnsley were still creating their fair share of chances at the other end and Brian Howard had the best chance as he got on the end of a corner kick before firing a powerful header straight at Grant.
But the South Yorkshire bite was left until the final few minutes as Barnsley right-back Kozluk was sent off for a second bookable offence to the delight of the Wednesday faithful.
O'Brien was presented with another good opportunity in the dying minutes from a free-kick but his long-range effort went crashing off the post.
Full-Time: Barnsley 0-0 Wednesday
Barnsley: Steele, Van Homoet, Foster, Nyatanga, Kozluk, Campbell-Ryce (Coulson 82), Hassell, Howard, Leon (Devaney 77), Macken, Nardiello (Odejayi 60). Subs Not Used: Togwell, Ferenczi.
Wednesday: Grant, Hinds, Beevers, Wood, Gilbert (Spurr 72), Small (Sahar 54), Kavanagh, Bolder, O'Brien, Tudgay, Showunmi (Burton 77). Subs Not Used: Burch, Wallwork.