Wednesday 0-0 Derby
20/03/10 - 3pm
Wednesday showed plenty of effort but couldn't find any cutting edge in a bore draw against fellow strugglers Derby County at Hillsborough.
Both sides had good chances to grab all three points from what was a scrappy encounter but Alan Irvine's Owls had to settle for their third stalemate on the spin.
Wednesday stopper Lee Grant was on top form against hid former club, pulling off a string of fine saves, while the Owls had chances of their own but couldn't find the back of the net in frustrating fashion.
Irvine made two changes to the side that took a point from PNE in midweek, both being forced.
The injured Jermaine Johnson was replaced by Tom Soares on the wing, while Luke Varney, unavailable to feature against his parent club, was replaced by Leon Clarke in attack.
And the game started at a rapid pace with both sides having golden opportunities inside the opening two minutes.
Tommy Miller should have given the hosts the lead when he was put through on goal only to blast his effort straight at Derby stopper Stephen Bywater from just six yards out when he should have found the back of the net.
Moments later Grant had to be at his best to produce a top-class reflex save to tip a Chris Porter header over the bar for a corner as the clash opened in lively fashion.
Both sides settled down and it was Wednesday who were edging the play in terms of possession and chances - albeit the chances being half chances.
Soares wqs looking good in midfield for Wednesday, running at the Derby defence and looking a Jermaine Johnson-like threat with some penetrating raids towards the Derby goal.
His trickery was lacking a finish though and although Wednesday were looking closest to finding the breakthrough, Bywater was rarely threatened.
Soares did see a shot thwarted by Bywater but it was relatively comfortable for the Rams stopper as most of the play was inside the middle third of the park.
Despite the Owls looking the better of the two teams it was the visitors who could have taken the lead into half-time.
Grant again did brilliantly to produce an almost carbon-copy save from Porter at the start of the half when he tipped a Rob Hulse effort over the bar.
Hulse, and fellow former Blade Michael Tonge, were both getting a ribbing from the Wednesday support, but both looked disappointing, as far as Derby were concerned at least.
The Owls' faithful applauded their men off the field at half-time knowing they'd put in a decent shift, but also knowing they needed to improve their final ball on the resumption if they were to break through the Rams defence.
Half-Time: Wednesday 0-0 Derby
The second-half failed to live up to the first in terms of chances, with little in the way of goalmouth activity in the opening exchanges.
Wednesday suffered a blow when Darren Purse limped off just ten minutes after the restart, Richard Hinds coming into defence while James O'Connor took the captain's armband.
Francis Jeffers was introduced from the bench just six minutes later with Clarke making way, and the former Arsenal and Everton man looked lively with his first few touches.
His movement looked good and he was keen to get involved in the action, although his partnership with Tudgay left much to be desired.
With the long balls coming forward, Clarke could well have been the one to stay on and win the headers, with Tudgay not exactly pulling up any trees in attack.
But Jeffers' introduction sparked a good spell for Wednesday, and a spell they needed to score in if they were to bag all the spoils.
Soares was felled in dangerous territory and Darren Potter's free-kick was met by the head of Mark Beevers, who saw his looping header beat Bywater but be cleared off the line by Tonge.
Jeffers also twice came close to finding the breakthrough.
First, Soares showed a never-say-die desire to reach a ball seemingly going out for a goal kick before leaving Bywater stranded and pulling the ball back for Jeffers to steer into an empty net before the Derby defence scrambled back to clear the danger for a corner.
And the Owls' number nine then came close to connecting with a Miller looping header but just couldn't make the vital strike.
The Owls seemingly ran out of gas as the match came into the final ten minutes and although winning a few late corners, Derby's defence stood firm to take a deserved share of the spoils.
Full-Time: Wednesday 0-0 Derby