Wednesday 1-1 Stoke
29/03/08 - 15:00
Wednesday may still be in the bottom three going in to April but they'll look at Frank Songo'o's effort eight minutes from time as a point gained against Championship leaders Stoke City at a rainy Hillsborough rather than two dropped.
Tony Pulis' men came in to the clash looking to bag more points towards the Premiership, and looked a dangerous prospect for the Owls to deal with thanks to the late loan additions of Shola Ameobi and Stephen Pearson to their ranks, as well as former Owl Glenn Whelan returning to S6 for the first time since his January departure.
Wednesday had their own loan addition in the former of West Brom striker Bartosz Slusarski, but the Polish international had to be happy with a place on the bench as Ben Sahar and Deon Burton continued in attack, with Laws opting for the same side that drew with Crystal Palace last weekend.
Laws insisted that last weekend's late, late leveller for Palace had given his troops the belief that they could survive in the Championship this season, and they carried that belief in to an impressive opening 15 minutes which Wednesday somehow failed to take the lead in.
Deon Burton fired an early warning shot over Carlo Nash's goal in the opening exchanges while Wednesday had a decent shout for a penalty minutes later as Songo'o saw his goalbound effort cannon off a Stoke defender, with the Owls' appeals falling on deaf ears.
And Laws' troops went even closer minutes later as Songo'o was again at the centre of the play when he fired an effort on goal which was deflected off the Stoke defence; Richard Wood was first to react but the Owls' skipper could only see his effort come back off the woodwork after beating Nash.
Ameobi was also at the centre of the attention, but for all the wrong reasons.
The Newcastle United loanee was lucky to stay on the soggy Hillsborough turf with a number of fouls early on, including a lunging challenge on Richard Hinds which forced the Owls' right-back off the pitch after 15 minutes, Steve Watson coming on to return to the first team fold.
But despite Wednesday's early pressure it was the visitors who showed the difference of class when new-boy Stephen Pearson saw his powerful effort flicked in to the back of Lee Grant's net with the weakest of touches from former Owl Richard Cresswell on 21 minutes.
Another former Owl, Glenn Whelan, had had a quiet time in the opening exchanges and the former Republic of Ireland U21 international respectfully decided against celebrating with his new team mates in front of his former fans.
The goal was set-back for Wednesday early on, and tempers started to heighten as the first half wore on, with Owls' fans frustrations being fired in the direction of Ameobi who was again lucky to stay on the pitch following another challenge on Graham Kavanagh which saw the Newcastle man given his final warning.
And another Stoke player was fortunate to stay on the pitch on the half hour mark as left-back Carl Dickenson put in a late challenge on Sean McAllister which saw the youngster spin up in the air and see only a yellow for Dickenson after a brief melee between both sets of players.
Stoke had a couple of half-chances to double their lead through Cresswell and Ameobi, but it would have been harsh on the hard-working Owls, who managed to hold out some further pressure before the break.
Half-Time: Wednesday 0-1 Stoke
The Owls needed to come out in the second half firing on all cylinders to find a way back in to the game but it was the Potters who made the more impressive start to the second half.
Cresswell had a golden opportunity to make it 2-0 just minutes after the restart when Rory Delap's huge throw-in found the former Leeds and Preston man unmarked in the box as the Owls defenders failed to wake up from their half-time interval.
But luckily Cresswell fluffed his header straight in to the arms of the grateful Lee Grant.
At the other end, Wednesday struggled to carve out many half-chances, let alone clear cut chances, as frustrations grew on the Wednesday terraces thanks to poor passing and indecision, not least from Kavanagh who was up for a fair bit of stick from the loud, travelling City fans.
But loanee Ben Sahar fired some determination back in to Wednesday when he linked well with strike partner Deon Burton to fire a low effort just by the post of Carlo Nash's goal.
But the chance failed to spur on the rest of the Owls teams, with Laws having to take matters in to his own hands when he brought off Wade Small, who by no means had a bad game, to be replaced by the returning Jermaine Johnson.
The Jamaican had been suspended for the last four games and it showed as he failed to get to grips with the pace of the game early on.
And although Johnson wasn't involved, the change seemed to have an impact as Songo'o launched a long-range effort which looked a simple collection for Nash, but the former Manchester City stopper spilled the ball and it looked odds-on that McAllister would tuck the rebound in to the back of the net, but he somehow missed the ball completely and the danger was cleared.
Former Barcelona product Songo'o had looked the biggest threat for the Owls all afternoon and it was the tricky winger who grabbed Wednesday a point when he let loose with an unstoppable low effort from just inside the box to leave Nash with no chance.
The goal gave Wednesday a new lease of life and Laws may well have been left thinking his troops could have bagged all three points as Johnson was sent clear down the right and his low cross somehow evaded all the Wednesday attackers with the goal at their mercy.
But the Owls will have been left relatively happy with the point, ahead of their vital relegation six pointer against Coventry City on Tuesday night.
Full-Time: Wednesday 1-1 Stoke
Wednesday: Grant, Hinds (Watson 17), Beevers, Wood, Spurr, Kavanagh, McAllister, Small (Johnson 65), Songo'o, Burton, Sahar (Showunmi 79). Subs Not Used: Bolder, Slusarski.
Stoke: Nash, Griffin, Cort, Dickinson, Riggott, Whelan, Lawrence, Delap, Pearson (Bothroyd 72), Cresswell, Ameobi (Pugh 78). Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Buxton, Wilkinson.
The Portsmouth winger looked the most dangerous player on the pitch from an Owls' point of view, and his late strike could well prove the difference between survival and relegation come the end of the season.
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