Wednesday 1-1 Reading
22/04/06 - 15:00
The Owls held Champions Reading to a creditable 1-1 draw at Hillsborough on the Owls final home game of the season.
Dave Kitson gave the Royals the lead in the first half after a neat move, before Steve Maclean converted a penalty just before the hour mark.
It was reason for celebration for both sets of fans in the 27,000 strong crowd. Wednesday were celebrating survival in the Championship, while their visitors were celebrating promotion to the Premiership - one the Owls will be hoping to emulate in coming seasons.
Owls boss Paul Sturrock gave a debut to young defendr Tommy Spurr, who slotted in place of Graham Coughlan alongside captain Lee Bullen in the centre of defence.
Drissa Diallo returned to the team after an injury had kept him out of action for two months. The former Ipswich man took his place in the Owls new-look back five.
With the Owls Championship status secure after the 2-0 Easter Monday victory at Brighton, Sturrock made a few extra changes to the side so some players could fully recover in time for pre-season.
Paul Sturrock recalled Jon-Paul McGovern to the right side of the midfield, and Steve Maclean formed a new-look strike partnership alongside loanee Leon Best. Deon Burton and Marcus Tudgay made the bench.
Yoann Folly also returned to the starting line-up after his abscence at Brighton last Monday.
Reading boss Steve Coppell returned to a more familiar line-up after resting some of his more well-known players in the 3-1 victory over Stoke City last week.
Bobby Convey and James Harper returned to boost the Royals midfield, while John Oster also regained his place on the right-wing.
Dave Kitson returned to partner key-man Kevin Doyle in attack while Royals number one Marcus Hahnemann returned in goal.
Paul Sturrock entered Hillsborough complete with full kilt after a bet he made at the start of the season went against him. Let's just say it was a good job it wasn't too windy on the final day of the football season at Hillsborough...
With objectives complete for both clubs, the game started quietly and had more of a friendly feel to it than that of a big Championship match. The Royals were still chasing that Championship record for points, but it wasn't showing early on.
They soon showed the Hillsborough faithful what they were made of though, with a succession of attacks towards the Owls goal with relatively little from the new look Wednesday side.
American Bobby Convey found a path through to the goal, but opting not to shoot first time, his tame left-footed effort was easily saved by Carson in the Owls goal.
Winger John Oster was then put through by an excellent ball from one of the Championshi player-s of the season Kevin Doyle. His cut-back found hitman Dave Kitson but his effort was well blocked by Frankie Simek.
The Owls did have one chance at the other end when Jon-Paul McGovern broke free down the right-hand side. His cross found the head of Steve Maclean but the Scotsmans header was tame and easily saved by Hahnemann in the Reading goal.
The breakthrough for the visitors finally came just after the half hour mark when Bobby Convey broke free in the Owls box. The American spotted Dave Kitson unmarked in the Owls box, and his pass saw the Royals striker make it 1-0.
Wednesday finished the half strongly though when Leon Best showed neat control from a deep cross, but his turn and shot was scuffed. Yoann Folly then followed up to launch an effort goalwards but the Reading defence managed to scramble the ball to safety.
Reading started the second half as brightly as they did the first and Dave Kitson saw a goal chalked off for offside just two minutes into the action.
The Owls kept pushing the Reading defence back and were getting more involved in the game. The equaliser finally came just before then hour mark when Owls man of the match Frankie Simek broke into the Reading boxx after side-stepping two defenders. Simek was brought down inside the box, and Steve Maclean stepped up to make it 1-1.
As the game drew to a close it was the Owls who looked the more likely to leave with all three points. Maclean partnered well with substitute Deon Burton, and he nearly bagged his second of the afternoon in a goalmouth scramble which saw the ball trickle wide of the goal.
As the 90 minute mark drew closer, a corner from Glenn Whelen found the head of captain Lee Bullen but his powerful header was somehow cleared off the line by a Reading defender.
The Owls players finished the afternoon with a lap of honour which saw the players thank the fans for their support, and the fans thank the players for their efforts.
A very promising result for the Owls against worthy Champions who have only lost once on the road all season in the Championship. Wednesday could, and probably should, have nicked it in the dying moments but it was a point gained for the Owls.
Paul Sturrock told SWFC.co.uk:`
'It would be nice if we could get a win at Derby, catch a couple of teams and finish out of the bottom six.'
Reading assistant boss Kevin Dillon told BBC Sport
'The record is important but for me the main thing is our unbeaten run. We've only lost once away and once at home.
'I thought Wednesday were fantastic. The crowd got behind them and nearly sucked one in at the end.'