Wednesday 0-1 Southampton
25/09/10 - 3pm
WEDNESDAY's terrible league form continued on Saturday as Lee Barnard's 61st-minute strike gave Nigel Adkins' Southampton three points to inflict a fourth straight defeat on the Owls.
Barnard's goal ended a run of five games without a goal for the Saints and heaped more pressure on Wednesday boss Alan Irvine as the Owls slipped down to 14th in npower League One.
The visitors were well worthy of their victory with Nicky Weaver being much the busier goalkeeper throughout the 90 minutes.
Wednesday had their moments but couldn't breakthrough the Saints defence and left the field to a chorus of booing following another below-par performance on home soil.
Irvine promised changes to the side that fell to defeat against ten-man Plymouth last time out and he did make two, with Daniel Jones coming in for Tommy Spurr at left-back, and Gary Teale coming back into the side at the expense of Chris Sedgwick.
But it could, and probably should, have been more given the lacklustre showing from most of the Owls' XI - strikers Clinton Morrison and Paul Heffernan will definitely be wondering what it takes to get a starting role, while Darren Potter and James O'Connor will probably be very lucky to retain their starting shirt for Tuesday night's home clash against Oldham Athletic.
Both sides were pre-season favourites for promotion to the Championship but both had endured torrid starts to the campaign, with Alan Pardew leaving the south coast club to allow Nigel Adkins to become boss.
And Saints came into the game with no goals and just one point to show from their last five outings.
But with the arrival of a new manager usually comes new belief for a side, and it was Saints who made the brighter start as they looked for a first win under the former Scunthorpe United boss to get their campaign up and running.
Barnard was first to test Weaver just nine minutes in after getting in behind the Wednesday defence, while Jason Puncheon then came close as the Owls were sluggish out of the traps.
Wednesday struggled to show any creativity in the early exchanges and their first real threat on Kelvin Davies' goal came from a set-piece when Potter fired inches wide.
As the first-half progressed the number of chances increased but it was still Southampton who were looking the more likely to break the deadlock as Barnard and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came close for the visitors.
James O'Connor tested Davies with a header straight into the stopper's arms from a Gary Teale corner while Neil Mellor forced the Southampton number one into a save when he capitalised on some slack Saints defending.
The Owls perhaps enjoyed their best spell of the match as half-time approached, with a number of corners and some pressure on the Southampton goal while attacking the Kop end.
But they couldn't turn their chances and possession into goals, and it was Weaver at the other end who was worked the harder when he had to be alert to deny Rickie Lambert.
Half-Time: Wednesday 0-0 Southampton
Irvine was forced to take skipper Darren Purse off with an injury at half-time, Jon Otsemobor coming on to replace his former club at right-back while Lewis Buxton moved to partner Mark Beevers in the heart of the Wednesday defence.
And despite the change Wednesday came out in the second half having upped their attacking gear.
Giles Coke, having a relatively quiet game in comparison to his rapid start in a blue and white shirt, tested Davies with a long-range effort which flew straight into his hands.
But the hosts couldn't build on their fine start and allowed Southampton slowly back into the game.
The visitors always looked the more likely to open the scoring, despite their latest goalscoring problems, and they got their rewards just after the hour mark when Barnard netted what was to be the winning goal.
Wednesday caused their own downfall, a familiar tale this season, when a sloppy ball by Buxton allowed Barnard to nip in and take the ball round Weaver before slotting into the net in front of the Kop.
It marked the start of a meltdown in confidence by Wednesday, not aided, although justified, by a chorus of booing from the majority of the 18,000-plus inside S6.
It could have been 2-0 just minutes later when substitute Adam Lallana came close to finding the back of the net for the Saints.
At 1-0, Wednesday were always in with a chance of getting something from the game, although weather that would have been justified is another thing, and Irvine brought Clinton Morrison on for Potter and Tommy Miller in for Teale.
The changes did little to change the flow of the game though and although Tudgay saw a header come crashing back off the woodwork when a lot of those inside Hillsborough thought the ball had found the back of the net, Wednesday couldn't find a way back into the game.
And the Saints hung on relatively comfortably to secure a morale-boosting win and leave Wednesday desperately needing one of their own to get any hopes of promotion back on the right track.
Full-Time: Wednesday 0-1 Southampton
Win FREE pizza with Vital Football!
Select your team and get 50% off if they score twice.