Southampton 3-0 Wednesday
25/02/06 - 15:00
Wednesday crashed to their third successive defeat after a struggling Southampton team hammered Paul Sturrock's depleted Owls squad 3-0 at the St Mary's stadium.
A Danny Higginbotham free-kick gave the hosts the lead in the first half before two goals early in the second half from Grzegorz Rasiak and former Owls loanee Kenwyne Jones sealed the victory for the Saints.
Paul Sturrock travelled to his former club with just 11 fit senior first team players. Yoann Folly and Leon Best were ineligable to play as part of their season-long loan deal from the Saints. Wednesday were also without David Lucas, Jon-Paul Mcgovern, Peter Gilbert, Richard Wood, Drew Talbot, Steve Adams, Craig Rocastle and John Hills through injury.
The injuries meant that defender Patrick Collins got his first start of the season at left-back - replacing the injured Peter Gilbert. Marcus Tudgay returned to partner Steve Maclean in attack, while Deon Burton was included on the Owls bench. To the delight of the Owls fans, winger Richie Partridge was finally given his chance to impress on the right wing.Chris Adamson continued in goal after Sturrock failed to find a 'keeper on loan this week.
George Burley welcomed back Paul Smith in goal who replaced the injured Bartosz Bialkowski. Grzegorz Rasiak also returned to the side after he was cup-tied for the FA Cup match last weekend.
Saints legend Claus Lundekvam returned to the side after recoving from injury and he replaced Darren Powell in the centre of the Saints defence. Richard Chaplow and Andrew Surman also returned to replace Marian Pahars and Martin Cranie.
The depleted Wednesday team got off to a decent start in front of a big crowd at the St Mary's stadium, and it was Owls top scorer Chris Brunt who had the first chance of the game. His 25-yard free-kick was comfortably saved by Smith in the Saints goal though.
It didn't take long for the hosts to grab hold of the game by the scruff of the neck though, and on-loan Grzegorz Rasiak had two good chances. Andrew Surman provided the cross for the former Derby man to head over. The second was well saved by Adamson in goal.
The impressive Richard Chaplow also had a good chance and was about to launch a powerful effort towards goal before Glenn Whelen got infront and blocked his effort.
The home side were heaping the pressure on the make-shift Owls defence though, and it was only a matter of time before the hosts took the lead.
On 34 minutes Surman was felled right on the edge of the Wednesday box, and Danny Higginbotham gladly stepped up and rifled the ball in to Adamson's bottom left hand corner to make it 1-0.
It was the first goal the Saints had scored in 398 minutes, and it gave them the confidence to push on and get a second - which they nearly did straight after the re-start through Matt Oakley. Rasiak also had a good effort saved by Adamson just before the break.
After the interval, the hosts carried on in the same manner they had ended the first - on top and looking to double their lead. And they didn't have to wait long, as poor defending from the Owls let in Rasiak to make it 2-0 on 48 miniutes.
In the matchday programme Matt Le Tissier had predicted that Wednesday would be on the wrong-end of a thrashing after after their recent goal drought, and a third was soon to follow for George Burley's men.
This time it was former Wednesday loanee Kenwyne Jones who added the third - and has now scored in both fixtures against the Owls this season. The on-form Surman produced an inch perfect cross for Jones to head in the third of the afternoon - and effectively make the game all but over.
The scoreline meant that Paul Sturrock was to make his first changes of the afternoon. Steve Maclean and Richie Partridge were replaced by Deon Burton and Sean McAllister - who was to make his debut for the club. The 2500 travelling Owls fans had certainly given up hope of any fightback, and it looked as though Sturrock had with this change.
It wasn't the ideal time to make a debut for the Owls, but McAllister was putting himself about the pitch as you could expect from a young debutant. The youngster almost got a consolation for the Owls when he was put through on goal late on - but the linesman wrongly flagged another player offside.
Wednesday were well and truly beaten by a Saints team who are still gelling together following the high intake of players in the January transfer window. The only good thing to come from the game was the introduction of youngster Sean McAllister, and the fact that both Millwall and Brighton lost - leaving the Owls with the same five point margin from the relegation zone.
The youngster got the man of the match on the coaches home, and although he didn't do much - he did an awful lot more than the rest of the players.
Looked bright and interested as you could expect from a debutant, but has had good reviews from reserve level and looks like he could make the gradual step up (Is there actually a step-up from reserve level to playing in the Owls first team at the moment!?).
Paul Sturrock told BBC Sport:
'Their two strikers were the two best players on the pitch and we were second best in most departments.
'I'm not going to make excuses. We have got a lot of injuries, and it would be nice to get a settled side back again.'
George Burley told BBC Sport:
'We could have won by more, and I was pleased that we took the opportunities we created.
'At Newcastle last week in the FA Cup, for example, we were on top but didn't take our opportunities.'