Wednesday 0-0 Bristol City
13/12/08 - 3pm
A CROWD of 15,542 brave souls turned out to see one of the dullest games of the season as Gary Johnson's out-of-form Bristol City arrived at a chilly Hillsborough to dig out a share of the spoils in an even pre-Christmas contest.
Wednesday may be wondering just what to do to get the crowds back to S6, and although cheaper tickets is one way, another is to improve the entertainment on the pitch and somehow dig deep to give Brian Laws the funds needed to do that.
Of course, Wednesday were without a number of key players going into the clash, and although the Owls showed signs of finding the back of the net, the Robins has just as many, and probably shaded the best opportunities throughout.
If Laws is serious in his aim to get into the play-off spots though, his troops will need to dig deep to get wins over sides like City, who came into the clash on the back of five matches without a win and also without key players.
With Frank Simek and Etienne Esajas both ruled out through injury, Laws brought Lewis Buxton back into the defence, while Bartosz Slusarski made a first start since returning to the club on loan, with Laws opting for a three-pronged attack.
The changes worked somewhat, with Wednesday putting in a better-than-usual first half showing.
Laws has been keen for his men to start strong, after only kicking into life in the second 45 minutes in recent matches, and they did just that, although the contest was an even one throughout.
Chances came at both ends early on, with Gavin Williams firing an early warning shot for the visitors before the in-form Clarke saw an effort well saved by City stopper Adriano Basso minutes later.
The injury problems for both sides were there to see for all, with little in the way of flowing football for either side in the opening 45 minutes.
The best chance of the first half went to Clarke though - as the in-form hitman charged down a free-kick before strike partner Francis Jeffers put the former Wolves man in on goal, bundling his way through on goal, before sticking his foot out and forcing a fine save from Basso.
At the other end, the Robins had the ball in the net but the referee called a foul on Grant in the Owls goal as the ball flew over him when he came to clear.
Half-Time: Wednesday 0-0 Bristol City
Wednesday have made a habit of starting the second half brightly but it was almost the visitors who broke the deadlock immediately after the restart with Wednesday caught napping.
Former Crewe striker Nicky Maynard was sent clear through on goal on the resumption but the pacey striker somehow sliced his effort wide and didn't even force Grant in to a save when he should have put City ahead - a sign of the low confidence at Ashton Gate perhaps.
Clarke had another good opportunity in front of the Kop at the other end when Jeffers had intercepted the ball, but the Owls striker lashed at his shot early and sent the ball inches wide of the City goal.
City enjoyed their best spell of the match in the middle period of the second half as McCombe saw an effort blocked by his own man from a Michael McIndoe free-kick, as did Williams. while Stern John stabbed an effort wide.
The spell forced Laws to change his players and formation, with Jeffers and Slusarski being replaced by Jimmy Smith and Steve Watson - forcing Tudgay to partner Clarke in the Wednesday attack.
And the changes almost paid off, with Tudgay being given a number of good opportunities to head Wednesday in front, but the Owls' number seven wasn't in the best form in front of goal.
First, Tudgay could have been forgiven to head a Jeffers corner harmlessly wide.
Then, the same player couldn't force Basso into a save as the impressive Tommy Spurr whipped in a dangerous cross which the City defence couldn't handle.
Wednesday finished the stronger, but they couldn't break down the stubborn City defence, and a share of the spoils on the day was probably a fair result - although fans won't be in too much of a rush to part with their hard-earned cash for more of the same.
Full-Time: Wednesday 0-0 Bristol
Wednesday: Grant, Buxton, Beevers, Wood, Spurr, Tudgay, O'Connor, McAllister, Slusarski (Watson 70) Clarke, Jeffers (Smith 70). Unused substitutes: O'Donnell, Lekaj, Modest.
Bristol City: Basso, McAllister, Fontaine, McCombe, Maynard, McIndoe, Skuse (Johnson 46), Sproule, Williams (Noble 82), Elliott, John. Unused substitutes: Henderson, Trundle, Wilson.
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