Wednesday 0-1 Bristol City
05/04/10 - 3pm
WEDNESDAY's battle to avoid relegation from the Championship suffered a huge blow on Easter Monday as Bristol City's 1-0 win at Hillsborough sunk Alan Irvine's men back into the bottom three.
Nicky Maynard blasted in the winner late in the second half as the on-song Robins snatched all three points in a dire affair at S6.
It left the Owls sitting in the relegation zone after Crystal Palace picked up a crucial three points and Watford also secured a point against West Brom.
And with just four games to go this term - Wednesdayites will rightly feel worried about their side's Championship status after missing out on a crucial three points in arguably their easiest game remaining.
It will be even more frustrating for Alan Irvine following his side's stubborn and determined performance at QPR just two days previous, as the Owls returned to their normal ways on home soil.
Irvine made just the one change to the starting eleven that bagged a point in London on Saturday with Leon Clarke returning to the starting line-up in place of Lewis Buxton, but there was no place for Jermaine Johnson despite his superb substitute appearance at Loftus Road.
Wednesday started brightly enough and created a couple f half chances in the opening exchanges, but it wasn't enough to really test Stephen Henderson in the Bristol goal.
Clarke and Tom Soares both saw chances come and go, but the Owls never tested stand-in stopper Henderson enough, especially considering he'd been given a rare start following an injury to regular number one Dean Gerken at the weekend.
City came into the game on the back of an upturn in performances and results following the departure of Gary Johnson.
The Robins are in mid-table and will enjoy a comfortable end to the season - something which was evident in their relaxed approach to the fixture - but it was by no means lacklustre.
City looked more comfortable on the ball, even though the onus was on the Owls to go out and get the three points, and their stubborn line-up prevented Wednesday from creating too much in front of goal.
In turn, the hosts failed to show any spark in attack - Irvine has clearly focussed on the defence since his arrival, and to their credit they've showed improvement bar the Reading game, but the Owls' front line and 'creative' players have failed to come up trumps.
Bristol had to best chances in front of goal and Lee Grant had to be alert to divert a Paul Hartley cross over the bar.
The Owls' stopper also had to be at the top of his game to deny Maynard with a superb diving save as City looked more likely to take the lead into the interval.
Wednesday had some spells of positive play and one such move resulted in Marcus Tudgay having a good chance to force Henderson into a save only to fire his shot high and wide and continue his poor season.
The officials weren't helping the generally slow flow of the game, calling some controversial decisions which saw both the home and away supporters and players bemused at the midway point.
Half-Time: Wednesday 0-0 Bristol City
Three points were a must from the game as far as Wednesday were concerned and they came out at the start of the second half like a team who were desperate for the points.
Piling forward in good numbers, the deadlock was almost smashed when Luke Varney dribbled his way into the box, somewhat fortunately, and hit a low shit which Henderson did well to save with his legs.
It was Wednesday's best chance of the game so far and it lifted the hosts as they continued their heavy pressure on the Robins' goal in the opening exchanges of the second half.
Varney came close with another effort which was blocked by the City stopper before captain Darren Purse headed over the bar from a Darren Potter corner-kick.
The Owls' skipper was leading by example at this point and tried to take matters into his own hands when he picked up the ball on the halfway line before powering an effort which went just wide of the upright and lifted the Owls' faithful.
Irvine introduced Francis Jeffers for the poor Potter on 73 minutes as Wednesday looked for more firepower to breakthrough the stubborn Bristol defence.
But the visitors were holding firm at the book and Wednesday soon looked to run out of ideas as the second half progressed.
City began to look more dangerous on the break, especially through tricky winger Jemal Campbell-Ryce, and it was through one such raid which Maynard found the winner.
With nine minutes of normal time to go, the former Crewe hitman found his way by two Wednesday defenders before drilling a low shot by Grant for what turned out to be the winner.
It left the Owls support streaming out of Hillsborough and left all Wednesdayites wondering just what division they'll be watching their football in next season.
Full-Time: Wednesday 0-1 Bristol
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