Barnsley 2-1 Wednesday
21/10/08 - 7.45pm
It was a case of 'after the Lord Mayor's show' for Wednesday as they came crashing back down to earth with a bang with one of their most lacklustre performances of the season at Oakwell on Tuesday.
A scoreline similar to that at Plymouth, Wolves or Reading could well have been on the cards had the Owls been up against a team higher up the table, but Barnsley just did enough against Brian Laws' 10 men to bag the win and the bragging rights.
Iain Hume got the hosts off to a flying start with the opener before Tony McMahon saw red for a late lunge, leaving a makeshift Owls side a huge mountain to climb, especially when Jamal Campbell-Ryce added a second from the spot on the hour mark.
But Wednesday didn't throw in the towel, Leon Clarke coming on and winning a penalty for the Owls with 20 minutes to go before powering it in to the back of the net to give the Owls brief hope, but Simon Davey's men clung on to help keep their boss in a job.
Laws made a number of changes to the side that beat Sheffield United just two days previous, Richard Wood, Jermaine Johnson, James O'Connor, Steve Watson and Deon Burton all dropping out of the starting line-up.
Francis Jeffers got his first start of the season in attack alongside Marcus Tudgay, while Wade Small returned to the side on the wing, with loanee Lewis Buxton starting in the heart of the defence, Peter Gilbert starting on the left-wing, and Jimmy Smith also bagging a start in the centre of the Owls' midfield.
But a battling Barnsley side reduced Wednesday to their elvel of long-ball football, and the Reds simply out-battled Wednesday, much in the same way Wednesday out-batled United on Sunday.
Despite the changes, the fatigue and the inexperience of playing together was all to see from the Wednesday side, even from the off, with the game feeling more like an experimental cup tie rather than a vital three points, which could have taken the Owls up to third in the table.
Barnsley boss Davey, whose job was said to be on the line going in to the game, highlighted the importance of a good start for his troops ahead of the game, and they certainly made that as they forced Wednesday back in to their own half and opened the scoring when Hume rifled in to the back of the net after just seven minutes.
Barnsley continued to be on top, with Wednesday showing little or no cohesion in the little time they had the ball, and gifted possession back to the hosts far too easily.
Wednesday's only notable effort on goal came when Tudgay saw his header comfortably saved by the giant figure of Barnsley stopper Heinz Muller.
And then the Wednesday job was made even harder when lonaee McMahon was shown red for a late lunge on former Sheffield United man Rob Kuzluk, with the Middlesbrough defender probably worthy of having an early bath with a challenge which he'll be sure to rue.
Barnsley had a chance to add further woe on to the travelling Wednesday support when Martin Devaney was put through on goal, but Wednesday had to once again thank Lee Grant for a superb save to keep the visitors in the game going in to the break.
Hume also found the back of the net but was deemed offside as Brian Laws was grateful for the half-time whistle which saw a disappointing Wednesday side lucky to be just 1-0 down at half-time.
The Owls' players were back out on the Oakwell pitch a good few minutes before the hosts returned, and Laws brought Sunday's goal hero Steve Watson in to the midfield, with Francis Jeffers coming off and Burton taking a loan role up front after replacing Tudgay midway through the first-half.
Watson's experience and determination at least steadied the Owls' ship somewhat, with Watson opting to keep his passes on the floor rather than continue the football tennis that was ever present from both sides in the first half.
But the Owls failed to get any kind of flowing football going with Barnsley's man advantage and their best threats seemed to be from set-pieces.
At the other end, Campbell-Ryce came close for the Reds, forcing another fine save from Grant, before he eventually did double their lead on the hour mark after Mark Beevers gave away a penalty for a pull on Jon Macken inside the box.
Campbell-Ryce stepped up and sent Grant the wrong way to the delight of the home support.
Laws introduced Leon Clarke as a last resort and the marksman had an immediate impact when he was hauled down inside the box to earn Wednesday a penalty, and he duly stepped up and rifled the ball straight down the middle to give Wednesday a glimpse of an unlikely comeback.
And to their credit, Wednesday never gave up, Smith firing straight at Muller, while Burton also saw an effort flash wide of goal in the latter stages.
But it was the Reds' day, and Laws will be looking to put another dreadful performance on the road to bed, but faces the most difficult task to do so with a trip to Birmingham on the the cards this weekend.
Barnsley: Muller, Foster, Moore, Souza, Kozluk, Campbell-Ryce, Colace, de Silva, Devaney, Hume (Rigters 90), Macken (Odejayi 82). Unused substitutes: Steele, Hassell, Leon.
Wednesday: Grant, McMahon, Buxton, Beevers, Spurr, Small (Clarke 65), McAllister, Smith, Gilbert, Tudgay (Burton 37), Jeffers (Watson 46). Unused substitutes: Boden, Esajas.