Date:Saturday February 20 2010
Saturday, February 20
The 'honeymoon period' is well and truly over for Owls boss Alan Irvine after his men churned out another spineless performance in front of the Wednesday masses when they went down 1-0 to relegation rivals Ipswich Town.
Carlos Edwards' pin-point effort after 15 minutes proved enough for Roy Keane's men, who leapfrogged Wednesday and left Owls fans wondering if their side are up for a relegation dog-fight this term.
Only Crystal Palace's defeat against Coventry City kept Wednesday out of the Championship's bottom three after yet another woeful 90 minutes of football at Hillsborough.
If Tuesday night's defeat against Doncaster Rovers could be put down to the opposition being a good footballing side, then today's loss was purely down to being second best in guts, pride and determination.
The Tractor Boys were poor, but Roy Keane's determined, never-say-die attitude was present in his Town troops as they showed they're well up for a battle against the drop this season, and passed their first test with flying colours.
Just when we thought we'd turned the corner under Irvine, it was back to watching the Wednesday of old, the Wednesday of Brian Laws.
Clueless, woeful, lacklustre, and most worryingly, lacking in confidence and looking like a side already defeated.
The clash was one Wednesday simply must have got something from, a 'relegation six-pointer' if you like, but they left with nothing, and deservedly so.
Irvine made two changes to the side that lost against Doncaster in midweek, one forced, and one not.
The Owls suffered a blow when captain Darren Purse was ruled out through injury, Richard Hinds coming in to replace him, while Irvine opted for a rare start for Etienne Esajas in place of Tom Soares.
New signing Eddie Nolan, who arrived at S6 on loan until the end of the season from Preston, had to settle for a place on the bench, but will no doubt be closer to a starting role next time out.
It was a dull opening, although Wednesday did fire the first dangerous shot on goal when Luke Varney fired a long-range shot which the Ipswich goalkeeper parried.
Varney was one of a few who could come away from the clash with any praise, working tirelessly in attack and having the best of the few chances that the Owls created in front of goal.
The opening 15 minutes had little about it, a true relegation clash with no quality from either side, but it was Town that broke the deadlock after the Wednesday defence totally collapsed.
Tommy Spurr was left marking two men during an Ipswich attack and former Sunderland man Edwards was given the time and space to launch a pin-point effort into the far corner of Lee Grant's goal for the opener.
The heads went down from the Wednesday players, and the visitors received a timely boost following their midweek defeat at lowly Peterborough.
It showed as Ipswich had more of the possession and looked to double their lead, coming close when another former Mackem, Grant Leadbitter sent a volley inches wide of goal.
The tension inside S6 started to grow, with booing ringing around before the half-time whistle had even gone.
But Wednesday did raise their game slightly and came close when Marcus Tudgay saw a shot come crashing back off the crossbar.
Varney then got the right side of his marker and sent a low shot across the face of goal as the Owls enjoyed arguably their best spell of the game as the first-half came to a close.
But the momentum swung back towards the visitors before half-time and Wednesday could count themselves lucky to be trailing by just the one goal when former Owls loanee Daryl Murphy saw a close range effort strike the foot of the post as Ipswich took advantage of more slack Wednesday defending.
The Owls left the pitch to another chorus of booing, and knowing that a vast improvement was needed in the second half.
Half-Time: Wednesday 0-1 Ipswich
Wednesday did raise their game slightly on the resumption and it almost resulted in Michael Gray finding the back of the net from a free-kick, but his effort skimmed the roof of the net.
Ipswich always looked dangerous on the attack and came close to making it 2-0 when Edwards again flashed a shot towards goal but Grant was this time equal to it, tipping it wide for a corner.
When Wednesday needed to stand up and be counted it was the visitors who raised their game on the resumption, sitting back and looking tight as a unit as the lack of creativity from Wednesday gifted the visitors too much possession.
Irvine brought Leon Clarke on just after the hour mark for the ineffective Gray.
With Tudgay pushed out to the right, Clarke took a role alongside Varney in attack and he offered some brief hope with a burst into the box only to see his effort thwarted by the Ipswich stopper.
But brief it was, and the Owls failed to trouble the Ipswich goal for the rest of the game, something which left Wednesdayites streaming out of Hillsborough well before the final whistle.
Sean McAllister, too, offered some signs of improvement, but his introduction for the poor Esajas was too little, too late.
Gareth McAuley could well have sealed the game for the visitors but he saw his header ruled out for offside with five minutes remaining.
It wasn't needed though, as Town comfortably held on for three crucial points in the battle against the drop.
Full-Time: Wednesday 0-1 Ipswich
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Date:Saturday February 20 2010
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|Sheff Wed||0||-||0||Derby County|
|6. Derby County||9||4||4||1||7||16|
|9. Sheff Wed||9||4||3||2||3||15|
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