Wednesday 1-1 QPR
11/03/06 - 15:00
Wednesday will be cursing their luck - and the referee - as it was a case of two points dropped against a poor QPR team at Hillsborough today.
In one of their best home performances of the season, it was the same old story as the Owls couldn't find the decisive winning goal. Deon Burton netted his first goal in an Owls shirt, but a Marc Bircham goal from a dubious free-kick sent the Londoners home with a point.
Paul Sturrock brought Scott Carson and Mikkel Bischoff straight in to the starting 11 despite only signing for the club on loan yesterday, and meeting the rest of the team early this morning. Carson replaced Chris Adamson on goal with Patrick Collins being replaced by Bischoff in the centre of defence.
Peter Gilbert passed a late fitness test and was brought back in to the side at the expense of Frankie Simek. Sturrock decided to stick with the partnership of Deon Burton and Marcus Tudgay up front, despite the return to action of last season's top scorer Steve Maclean.
QPR boss Gary Waddock re-called midfielder Marc Bircham to the starting 11 after the influential midfielder missed the home game with Wolves last week. Experienced midfield man Steve Lomas was also re-called to the side. Richard Langley and Stefan bailey missed out.
With the hoops being probably the most inconsistant team in the Championship, Paul Sturrock didn't know what to expect of Gary Waddocks's men - but must have feared the worst when the visitors got off to the brighter start.
Lee Cook's out-swinging cross wasn't cleared by the new look Wednesday defence, and Paul Furlong nearly capitalised but for his slow reaction. Gareth Ainsworth also had a decent effort from 25-yards saved by Carson in the Wednesday goal.
From then on the Owls bossed the game, and Deon Burton nearly put the hosts ahead in the sixth minute but for Paul Jones' magnificent stop. Burton O'Brien produced a magnificent cross for Burton, whose header was bound for the top corner, but somehow Jones managed to tip it over the bar for a Wednesday corner.
The on-loan Yoann Folly was to have his best game in a Wednesday shirt, and nealy topped it off with a goal when he played a neat one two with Marcus Tudgay. The QPR midfield was nowhere to be seen, but defender Matthew Rose got back to block Folly's effort.
The deserved breakthrough came on 12 minutes when Burton grabbed his first goal for the club. Chris Brunt reacted quickly and took a quick throw in for Glenn Whelen to flick in the box. Burton managed to get on the end of it and give Wednesday a 1-0 lead.
The news came through that Coventry were beating Sheffield United 1-0 which lifted spirits in the 22,788 crowd. More importantly, news came through that relegation rivals Millwall were losing 1-0 at Ipswich Town.
Wednesday were creating more chances in the first half than they had in the last couple of home games, and Lee Bullen nearly made it two but headed straight in to the arms of Jones in the QPR goal. Yoann Folly also saw a long range effort go well wide.
The Wednesday faithful knew that a goal wouldn't be enough to earn three points, and were venting their frustration at some poor and very strange decisions by the so-called Premiership referee Andy D'Urso. Mikkel Mischoff was on the end of one strange decision which saw him booked for a perfectly legible tackle on Paul Furlong.
To top it off, D'Urson handed the visitors a dubious free-kick near the corner flag after a foul by Glenn Whelen. Lee Cook stepped up to swing the cross in and Marc Bircham was quickest to react, levelling the scores undeservedly for QPR just two minutes before the break.
Needless to say, the boos rang round Hillsborough when D'Urso and his fellow officials left the pitch at half-time with the scores at 1-1.
The Wednesday players didn't let the late first-half goal knock them down though, as they came out all guns blazing in the second half, knowing that three points will be crucial in the battle against relegation.
The Owls were unfortunate not to regain the league just minutes in to the second half as Marcus Tudgay saw his close range effort brilliantly denied by Jones, and then he somehow adjusted to stop the follow-up from Burton to deny the former Derby man a second goal.
Maybe Wednesday knew it wasn't going to be there day minutes later, when a goalmouth scramble somehow saw three goalbound efforts blocked by the dogged QPR defence. Tudgay had another two efforts brilliantly saved by Jones, before Folly adjusted well to see his effort canon off the crossbar.
The Wednesdayites in the terraces couldn't believe what they were seeing, but were encouraged by what they were seeing and were giving it their all to make them a 12th man.
Wednesday's dominance continued throughout the second half, and Lee Bullen did brilliantly on the right wing to outfox two hoops defenders and produced a splendid cross for Tudgay to latch on to it, but his tame effort went straight in to the arms of a relieved Paul Jones.
After all of Wednesday's dominance, the hoops could have snatched a late winner in dramatic style. Carson hardly had a save to make in the match but was alert when Lee Cook drifted a floating ball in to the box from a free-kick. The young Liverpool stopper managed to get a touch and push the ball over the bar to safety.
The front two had their best games for the Owls, winning everything that was pumped forward, but just not finding the goalscoring touch in front of goal. Paul Sturrock had to change his hand in a bid to find a winner, and Leon Best, Steve Maclean, and Frank Simek all came on to replace Tudgay, Bischoff and Brunt.
The Wednesday players were looking tired after giving it their all for 90 minutes and were unable to find a winner. The biggest reaction of the game came when referee Andy D'Urso left the pitch at full time - to a chorus of boos and jeers from the Wednesday fans.
Wednesday were unlucky not to get all three points from the encounter with Gary Waddock's men, but will be boosted with one of the best recent performances in front of the Hillsborough crowd.
They now face a couple of tough fixtures, but should give Preston a run for their money next week at Hillsborough should they produced a similar performance. Luckily, Millwall and Brighton both drew so gained no points on the Owls - who could, and probably should, have seen the gap extended to four points.
The on-loan Southampton player finally showed us what he's all about with his best performance in an Owls shirt. He could have opened the scoring early on when his run through the QPR midfield resulted in a good block from hoops defender Matthew Rose. His non-stop running in midfield provided the Owls with a box to box player that we've been desperately lacking. Unfortunately, he just needs someone half-decent alongside him.
Paul Sturrock said he needs to adjust to the Wednesday team for the remainder of the season, and if he puts in that kid of performances for the final furlong of the season, then we will at least have a chance of survival.
Paul Sturrock told the official SWFC site:
''It's exasperating because we've now had two keepers produce 'worldy' saves from us in successive weeks to thwart us.''
''To be fair, they weren't what you would call criminal misses; people were hitting the target and forced some unbelievable saves.''
'We're disappointed but we've got to keep our heads up. It's turned into a four-horse race now. We have to move onwards and upwards.'
Gary Waddock told the official QPR site:
'Jonah (Paul Jones) made another number of fantastic saves and the back four in front of him defended superbly. It was wave after wave of attack at times, but we coped and that shows great resilience and character.''
'We made a point of the pitch and the conditions in our team-talk. We knew it wasn't going to be pretty but we dug in and got a creditable point.''