Date:Wednesday December 9 2009
Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster
08/12/09 - 7.45pm
Billy Sharp bagged a winning second-half goal to give Doncaster the local bragging rights as they edged Wednesday by a single goal to heap more pressure on Owls boss Brian Laws at the Keepmoat Stadium on Tuesday night.
It just had to be the Sheffield United loanee, flourishing at Rovers, who bagged the winning goal as Wednesday stretched their run without success to eight games.
It was a slightly improved performance for the Owls - it couldn't get much worse than the previous two outings - but it still wasn't enough to take even a point from the Keepmoat.
And Wednesday carved out just one clear-cut chance, a first-half effort by Leon Clarke, as chances came very few and far between in a battling South Yorkshire derby.
Laws promised to ring the changes for the match and did, making four changes to the side that lost against Reading on Saturday.
Unsurprisingly, captain Darren Purse was recalled to the centre of defence, while Sean McAllister got a rare start, Jermaine Johnson got the nod in attack and Leon Clarke also return to the Wednesday forward pack.
And the changes seemed to work in the opening exchanges as Wednesday nullified the threat from a side coming into the game high on confidence following a 3-0 win at Crystal Palace at the weekend.
Looking back to the same match last season and Wednesday were run off the park, despite the slender 1-0 scoreline.
This time the scoreline was the same, but the performance was improved, and looks to have kept Laws in a job for the time being at least.
But for their improved play, Wednesday still looked vulnerable at the back, with sometimes schoolboy style marking, and struggled for creativity in the middle of the park.
Tommy Spurr, whom Laws kept faith with despite some below-par performances of late, was one who showed great improvement, while McAllister took the proverbial bull by the horns in midfield and more than staked a claim for inclusion at Leicester this weekend.
Johnson was being double-marked by Rovers, but the work-rate that he put in up front was second-to-none, and the same went for Tudgay.
It could have been said that the team were showing they were playing for Laws in the opening 20 minutes despite claims in the media for the opposite of late.
But it was only for a period in the second half, and the Owls struggled for any fluency before half-time, and for the vast majority of the second half, although they did start the second half brightly with half chances.
Billy Sharp, as expected, looked lively as he reacted to some banter from the away end, but the Owls defence kept him out early on.
At the other end, Wednesday forced a number of corners but failed to really trouble Rovers stopper Neil Sullivan with any efforts, although Darren Potter had clearly been practicing, with the majority of his set-pieces avoiding the first man for a change.
The Owls pushed and pressed Doncaster in the first half, stopping them from playing much football, but Wednesday were poor at the other end and never really looked like scoring.
Lee Grant had to be alert to thwart a relatively comfortable Martin Woods free-kick, while at the other end Clarke had the Owls' best opportunity.
He was sent clear and only had the goalkeeper to beat but sent his low shot flashing across the face of goal just before half-time - something that would have been a real boost for the visitors at the break.
To Wednesday's credit, they started the second half brightly but were forced into half chances from the edge of the box as Johnson twice came close.
Darren Potter also wasted a good chance from a free-kick after Leon Clarke was sent tumbling to the ground when on a good run towards goal, but Potter blasted the resulting set-piece straight at the wall.
But after Clarke's run, Wednesday looked to struggle, and Rovers started to play the better football as they looked for a breakthrough, although the Wednesday defence held firm for a while.
That was until the 78th minute when Sharp bagged his 'childhood dream' and netted what turned out to be the winner.
Simon Gillett produced a superb cross for Sharp to get on the end of and fire Doncaster ahead.
Talk had been of the Owls' low confidence, and that was ever-clear following the blow.
Tom Soares and Luke Varney were both introduced from the bench, as was Etienne Esajas, but the trio did little to stop the rot as Rovers held on for the three points.
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Date:Wednesday December 9 2009
|Sheff Wed||0||-||0||Derby County|
|7. Derby County||7||3||3||1||5||12|
|8. Sheff Wed||7||3||3||1||3||12|
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