Cardiff City 3-2 Wednesday
The Cardiff City Stadium
24/4/10 - 3pm
WEDNESDAY are now relying on West Brom to do them a favour and help them in their battle for survival after failing to pick anything up from their trip to Cardiff City this afternoon.
A 3-2 loss against the Bluebirds leaves Wednesday in the relegation zone with just one game remaining.
And their fate could well be sealed on Monday night if Crystal Palace beat West Brom, after relegation rivals Watford beat Reading to secure their safety today.
The game was a must-win for the Owls, and they failed to produce the goods to leave League 1 football the most likely outcome for next season.
Owls boss Irvine made just the one change to the side that drew 1-1 with Sheffield United last weekend with on-loan Tom Soares coming into the starting line-up to replace Leon Clarke.
The Bluebirds had already secured their place in the play-offs but were in no mood to give the Owls an easy ride in their first visit to City's new stadium.
Dave Jones named a strong line-up for the clash as he looked for his men to take their momentum into the end-of-season play-offs.
The game started at a decent pace and Joe Ledley had the first real chance on goal when he forced Owls stopper Lee Grant into action with an effort from the edge of the box.
From the resulting corner Grant had to be in agile form again to deny Jay Bothroyd this time from inside the box as the Bluebirds started brightly in the opening five minutes.
Wednesday's first real threat on Cardiff's goal came as Tommy Spurr tried to pick Soares out with a cross into the box but Darcy Blake forced the ball out for a corner.
As the game evened out Wednesday got more of the ball and forced Cardiff stopper David Marshall into the save of the match after 12 minutes.
A free-kick was awarded in a dangerous position for Wednesday after Ledley put a high boot in on Darren Potter.
The Wednesday midfielder took the free-kick himself and forced the city stopper into a superb finger-tip save before Marcus Tudgay lashed the rebound across the face of goal.
It was a sign of things to come and the Owls broke the deadlock after 15 minutes thanks to a fine move.
Tudgay put Soares in on the right and the on-loan midfielder produced a superb cross for Johnson to tap in for the opener from point-blank range and send the travelling Wednesdayites barmy.
But Wednesday's joy was cut short painfully quickly as City responded in devastating fashion.
A foul right on the edge of the box by former Cardiff defender Darren Purse gave Peter Whittingham the chance to curl in the leveller just a minute later to leave the visitors deflated.
Cardiff were playing freely with no pressure and Wednesday had to be on their toes immediately after the goal as the Bluebirds looked to turn the game completely on its head.
But the visitors provided a stubborn defence to ride the storm and started to pose a threat themselves at the other end.
Following a series of corners the Owls had a double chance to regain the lead, with Luke Varney having a shot blocked before Soares lashed an effort from close range high and wide.
It was a positive sign though and boss Irvine will no doubt have been quite pleased with his side's attacking threat.
The threat was still coming from Cardiff though and Grant had to alert to stop Michael Chopra heading over him and into the back of the net as the former Newcastle man got onto a through ball before Whittingham lashed the rebound over.
Wednesday had a great chance to go ahead just before the break but Soares' tame header caused Marshall few problems from a Tudgay flick-on.
Further chances came at both ends before the break as good work by Eddie Nolan on the right gave Tudgay a good chance, but the out-of-form striker couldn't get an effort on goal from just eight yards out.
And at the other end Grant had to be alert to deny Bothroyd with a low, curling free-kick.
It was an entertaining first half with chances from both ends, and Wednesday would have been relatively pleased going into the interval.
Half-Time: Cardiff 1-1 Wednesday
Wednesday made one change at half-time with Leon Clarke coming on to replace goalscorer Johnson.
But it was the hosts who came flying out of the traps on the resumption as Bothroyd went surging through the middle of the Wednesday defence before firing an effort over the bar.
Whittingham also sent a shot just wide of the upright as the Owls defence gave the City dangerman too much time at the edge of the box.
The hosts were on top and they carved out the best chance since the leveller to go ahead when Kelvin Etuhu broke clear only for Purse to deny the winger with a superb, last ditch block.
Cardiff's second-half pressure paid off just ten minutes after the restart when Bothroyd broke the offside trap before producing a clinical finish by Grant to make it 2-1.
Things needed to change for the visitors to get back into the game and Irvine brought Francis Jeffers on to replace Soares just after the hour mark.
Tudgay flashed a long-range effort harmlessly wide of goal as the Owls looked to up their gear in attack.
Etienne Esajas was also brought on and he cut infield with his first real run at the Cardiff defence before lashing a low effort wide.
But in general Wednesday were looking laggy and Cardiff bossed long spells of the second-half but couldn't extend their lead when they probably should have.
It came against the run of play then that Wednesday grabbed an equaliser with 12 minutes to play.
Esajas picked the ball up in a deep position before providing a deep cross which found Tudgay at the far post and the Owls striker somehow squeezed the ball in from the tightest of angles for the leveller.
Wednesday have failed time and time again to build on goals and they were hit with another sucker-punch just minutes later as City restored their lead.
Bothroyd ran straight at the Wednesday defence and unleashed a shot which Grant could only palm into his net to send Wednesday back to square one.
Wednesday went out with a whimper but Esajas did come agonisingly close to grabbing a point with a stunning long-range effort which left Marshall stranded but came crashing back off the woodwork.
Full-Time: Cardiff City 3-2 Wednesday