Wednesday 1-2 Palace
02/01/10 - 3pm
Wednesday took their dire league form into the FA Cup as they crashed out of the prestigious competition at the third round stage in a lacklustre clash against Championship rivals Crystal Palace.
Neil Danns and Calvin Andrew bagged the goals that saw Neil Warnock's men through in front of a poor crowd of over 8,000 at S6, the Owls' response coming from a Clint Hill own goal a minute before half-time.
The Owls will have been keen to kick-start 2010 in winning style, especially given the FA Cup gives financial rewards that the club could do with at present.
But a good cup run could well have been even more important in the grand scheme of things, with a much-needed confidence boost required to help Wednesday lift themselves out of the Championship's bottom three.
It was even more disappointing for Wednesdayites given the fine performance last time out at Hillsborough, as the Owls performed well and held table-toppers Newcastle to a 2-2 stalemate on Boxing Day.
Wednesday caretaker boss Sean McAuley gave Francis Jeffers a rare start in 4-3-3 formation, with Marcus Tudgay and Leon Clarke also in the Owls' attack in light of Luke Varney's return to Derby County last week.
The game was arguably one of the worst Wednesday could have got glamour-wise, and it lived up to its billing in the early stages with neither side threatening in front of goal.
A scrappy midfield battle unfolded in the opening 15 minutes and it came somewhat out of the blue, although not unexpected, when the visitors took the lead after 19 minutes.
Wednesday's defence continued to look brittle and when Shaun Scannell broke down the right, former Birmingham midfielder Neil Danns was well positioned to tap in the opener from point-blank range.
The goal gave Palace a big lift and put a big dint in Wednesday's frail confidence, and the Eagles could have doubled their lead just a minute later when the same man again, Danns, thumped a long-range volley just wide of goal.
But after falling behind 2-1 against Newcastle on Boxing Day and coming back, Wednesday knew they weren't out of the game and kept pushing for a leveller, without really testing Julian Speroni in the Palace goal.
The Owls did get more into the game as the first half wore on, with Marcus Tudgay and Jeffers both having half chances.
And the equaliser came at what should have been just the right time for Wednesday, in somewhat fortunate circumstances just a minute before half-time.
Former Palace man Tom Soares and Tudgay both had shots blocked before Leon Clarke's effort, which looked to have been heading towards the corner flag, was unfortunately put into his own goal by Clint Hill on 44 minutes.
Half-Time: Wednesday 1-1 Palace
The goal just before the break understandably lifted Wednesday at the start of the second half, with Clarke having an early effort in the second half, while at the other end Alan Lee came close for Palace.
The game upped a gear in the opening exchanges of the second 45 as both sides looked for a winner, with Wednesday enjoying arguably their best spell of the game possession-wise.
Mark Beevers also came close with a glancing header from a Jeffers cross, before Palace went straight down the other end to bag what turned out the winning goal.
And it came somewhat against the run of play.
The Owls, and in particular Frank Simek, should have dealt with the threat of Andrew as he muscled his way into the box and tucked his effort by Grant to see the visitors regain their advantage.
In reply, the lively Jeffers came close to capitalising on a defensive error from Palace, but Speroni came to the rescue as he rushed out of his goal to thwart the former Everton and Arsenal man.
And that's as good as it got for Wednesday, who failed to mount any kind of pressure on the Londoners' goal in the closing stages, with Speroni relatively untroubled.
Substitute Etienne Esajas had probably the best chance when he came on to the pitch to a dangerous looking free-kick, but couldn't beat the wall as Palace got the danger away in comfortable fashion.
It'll be worrying for Wednesdayites, but a much bigger game lies in wait next weekend in the Championship, with relegation rivals Peterborough United the visitors to Hillsborough.
Win FREE pizza with Vital Football!
Select your team and get 50% off if they score twice.