Wednesday 2-0 Coventry
17/10/09 - 3pm
DARREN Purse turned from villain to hero within three minutes of Wednesday's 2-0 victory over Coventry City as he netted the opening goal to lead the Owls to three vital points against the Sky Blues.
Leon Clarke was also on the mark from the penalty spot as Wednesday ran out deserved winners, although survived a few controversial calls from the officials which infuriated Coventry.
Purse, and fellow defender Lewis Buxton, had both been criticised by Wednesdayites following the previous outing which saw the Owls fall to a 3-0 defeat at Derby County a fortnight ago.
But the duo were both named in the starting line-up as boss Brian Laws' hand was forced to change his starting eleven, with defender Richard Wood and striker Marcus Tudgay both missing out.
Mark Beevers was brought into centre defence alongside Purse, with Clarke partnering Luke Varney in attack and Jermaine Johnson also coming into the starting line-up at the expense of Etienne Esajas.
Wednesday had been dwelling over their setback at Derby for two weeks, and a quick start to the game was vital if they were to put that defeat at Pride Park firmly to bed.
They got just that, and the pace of Johnson took him free down the left before slotting a dangerous ball across the Sky Blues' six yard box which Clarke came inches from connecting to.
But better was to come just a minute later for the Owls from a corner as Purse rose highest to power his header into the back of the net after just three minutes.
The goal will have no doubt lifted Purse following the recent criticism, and it lifted the Owls as they continued to mount attack after attack on the visiting goal, with the jet-heeled Johnson more than staking a claim to continue in the wing against Preston on Tuesday.
The Jamaican looked sharp, causing a real problem for the Coventry defence, and he almost got a shot away at goal minutes later after twisting and turning through two City defenders before seeing his effort blocked.
Wednesday looked a class above Coventry in the first 20 minutes and they got what they deserved 19 minutes in when Clarke made it 2-0 from the spot.
James O'Connor, who enjoyed another good match in the blue and white this season, turned from midfield general to attacking midfielder as he powered hid way into the box before being felled by Elliott Ward.
At first it looked like nobody was keen to step up for the spot-kick, but Clarke put his hand up and rifled a shot which gave Coventry stopper Kieren Westwood no chance.
As has been the case before this season, Wednesday took their foot off the gas somewhat following the second and allowed the visitors back into the game, without really troubling Lee Grant in-between the sticks.
But with Clinton Morrison - who's enjoyed a superb goalscoring run against the Owls - and former Owls loanee Leon Best in attack, City were always going to be a threat.
It was therefore testament to Purse and his new-look defence to keep City quiet, and go some way, at least, to making up for their Derby horror show.
Patrick Van Aanholt had Coventry's first real chance of the match half an hour in when the Chelsea loanee was allowed the time to shape up a shot but found the Leppings Lane end rather than the back of the net.
Wednesday deserved their 2-0 lead going into the interval but City could well have reduced the deficit on the stoke of half-time.
From a Coventry corner, Best won a header and his effort, to the City players and fans behind the goal at least, seemed to have gone over the line, but the linesman waved away the protests and Wednesday clung on to their two-goal cushion.
Half-Time: Wednesday 2-0 Coventry
So many times we've seen Wednesday come out to the second half and look to defend their lead by sitting back and allowing the visitors to play, Barnsley being just one example, and it was more of the same against Chris Coleman's men.
City had to be better on the resumption, and they were, controlling much of the ball but doing little to test Grant.
The visitors were dealt blow when Aaron Gunnarsson was taken off on a stretcher following a late challenge by Clarke, and which forced a good five minute pause in play which saw the officials add six minutes stoppage time to the clash.
Grant did have to be alert not long after when Wednesday failed to deal with the danger from a set-piece and the tall figure of Ward saw his spectacular over-head kick go straight into the Owls number one's arms.
City continued to have much of the ball in midfield but failed to break down a stubborn Wednesday defence, the Owls instead preferring to hit their visitors on the counter attack with the pace of Johnson down the wing.
But there was more controversy just after the hour mark when City thought they'd won a penalty only for the linesman to, correctly from Vital's point of view, deem Tommy Spurr to have won the ball fairly in his challenge on Best.
It was a dangerous tackle to be making in the box, no doubt about it, but Spurr went in and won the ball at his feet, causing Best to fall.
Morrison wasn't happy, confronting the linesman, referee and fourth official, and somehow getting away without being booked for his act.
That sparked the visitors into becoming ill-disciplined, with some late challenges going in on the Wednesday players, and it worked to the Owls advantage, as City continued to waste their own time with some frustrating challenges.
It allowed Wednesday to advance, and they should have wrapped the game up not long after as Clarke found himself unmarked inside the box, but he curled his effort just over the bar.
Laws introduced Sodje for Clarke with 15 minutes remaining and McAllister for the tiring, yet excellent, Michael Gray just a few minutes later to add more zest to the Owls attacking options and tighten up the defensive options from the midfield.
Isaac Osbourne saw a shot drilled wide as Coventry turned to long range efforts for a way back into the game, with little success, as Wednesday hung on relatively comfortably for the three points.
Full-Time: Wednesday 2-0 Coventry
Owls: Grant, Buxton, Purse, Beevers, Spurr, Johnson (Miller 90), Potter, O'Connor, Gray (McAllister 77), Clarke (Sodje 74), Varney. Unused substitutes: O'Donnell, Hinds, Simek, Jeffers.
Coventry: Westwood, Wright, Van Aanholt, Ward, Turner, Cork, Osbourne, Gunnarsson (Eastwood 55), Morrison, Best, McIndoe (Cain 71). Unused substitutes: Cranie, Konstantopoulos, Clarke, Grandison, Walker.