Wednesday 2-2 Barnsley
08/08/09 - 3pm
Wednesday kicked-off their new Championship campaign with a share of the spoils in an entertaining local derby with Barnsley at a sunny Hillsborough on Saturday.
Brian Laws' men were in control at the break with a 2-0 advantage thanks to goals from Jermaine Johnson and Michael Gray.
But a second half collapse allowed Simon Davey's troops to bag a point from the clash, and although long spells of dominance from the hosts, Wednesday had Lee Grant to thank for a number of top drawer saves.
From the clash, Wednesday fans left with disappointment but with plenty of positives from a superb first half of football.
Defensive issues still need to be looked at by Laws, as Barnsley looked dangerous throughout from set-pieces, with their strength in the air and on the ball often making it difficult for Wednesday at the back.
Laws give a debut to new skipper Darren Purse, but Tommy Miller was only fit enough for a place on the bench.
Francis Jeffers and Marcus Tudgay were the preferred options in attack, while Richard Wood, stripped of the captaincy following the arrival of Purse, partnered the former Cardiff defender in the centre of defence.
The game started at a frantic pace, and Wednesday looked good, although not able to match the superb start to the last campaign which saw them bag two quickfire goals early on against Burnley.
The Owls looked comfortable on the ball in the first half, dominating play, and the first chance fell to James O'Connor, who struck a shot which forced Tykes' stopper Luke Steele to tip the ball over the bar.
But the Oakwell goalkeeper could do little to prevent Johnson giving Wednesday the lead from the resulting corner, powering home Gray's cross on nine minutes.
Former Sunderland man Gray was rolling back the years and looking dangerous throughout, curling a free-kick just wide as Wednesday looked to double their advantage.
Wednesday were playing some brilliant passing football, arguably the best that's been seen at S6 in some time, and nont only were they keeping possession, but they were also looking dangerous with the ball.
Barnsley had some chances of their own at the other end, but when they did break through the defence, the visitors found Lee Grant in top form between the sticks, first putting his body in the way of a Macken effort to keep the Owls' slate clean.
Anderson De Silva also came a whisker away from leveller when he sent a header just wide of goal from a dangerous free-kick.
Barnsley looked dangerous from set-pieces throughout, and Wednesday were giving too many away, and getting away with it, in an action-packed first half.
But it was Wednesday who doubled their lead just seven minutes before the interval when Gray rose high to apply the finishing touch to Tudgay's flick-on.
The Owls got a standing ovation from the 30,000-plus inside Hillsborough, but it was to be the last applause of the afternoon for Brian Laws' men.
Half-Time: Wednesday 2-0 Barnsley
Whatever team talk Laws gave his men at the half-time interval, it was the wrong one.
From the kick-off, Wednesday looked a gear below their pace in the first half and looked happy to sit back on their 2-0 lead.
An early warning sign was there just five minutes after the restart when Grant again did brilliantly to save another Macken effort.
And Wednesday were punished for their sitting back when Jacob Butterfield fired a low effort by Grant from the far post after an inswinging cross went over the Wednesday defence, Butterfield giving Grant no chance with his effort.
The visitors were evidently boosted with their goal, and, has been the case many times before, Wednesday looked nervous as they tried to cling on to their one-goal advantage.
Jeffers was having little luck in his battle against experienced defender Darren Moore at the back, and Laws promptly took the 'fox in the box' off for Etienne Esajas, who moved to the wing and allowed Johnson to move into the attack.
But the changes did little to divert the pressure away from Lee Grant's goal, and there was always a sense that the visitors would break through the Wednesday defence again.
And they did in the 76th minute when Macken was sent through on goal and he made it third time lucky, this time beating Grant with his low effort to level the scores and leave Wednesday fans wondering if they'd leave S6 with anything to show for their efforts.
After the leveller, both sides had some half chances to take all three points, Potter having the best effort with a long-range drive which forced Steele into a good, low, save.
But neither could break through for what would have surely been the winning goal.
Full-Time: Wednesday 2-2 Barnsley