Wednesday 2-2 Chesterfield (8-7 Pens)
06/10/10 - 7.15pm
NICKY Weaver was the hero for Wednesday as the Owls scraped by local rivals Chesterfield with a penalty shoot-out victory to progress to the next round of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
Weaver saved three penalties as the Owls looked dead and buried in the shoot-out and also smashed one in of his own to send Alan Irvine's men through in an entertaining end-to-end game at Hillsborough on Wednesday night.
Battling Chesterfield will have felt the game was there for the taking after twice taking the lead in normal time through Dean Morgan and Craig Davies, the latter netting just six minutes from time.
But Marcus Tudgay, although missing a spot-kick following a foul on Giles Coke with just a minute to go, smashed in the leveller to take the game to penalties, Neil Mellor also netting for the Owls.
Alan Irvine made six changes to the Wednesday side that beat Notts County at the weekend.
Lewis Buxton, Daniel Jones, Gary Teale, Chris Sedgwick, Mellor and Darren Potter were all recalled to the starting eleven as the Owls looked to achieve back-to-back wins and move a step closer to Wembley.
The Spireites came to S6 with a big away following and keen to continue their superb start to the season which sits them second in League Two coming into the game.
John Sheridan's men came from 4-1 down at the weekend to draw their game against Crewe 5-5 and the visitors brought that momentum into the early exchanges against the Owls.
Chesterfield were calling the tune in the opening, and it was some tune as the play swung from side-to-side with both sides keen on playing attacking football for the 15,000 inside Hillsborough - the biggest attendance of the round by quite a distance.
Scott Griffiths had the first meaningful effort on target as the Spireites set off like a house on fire, with Wednesday too having an early chance when Neil Mellor fired straight at Chesterfield stopper Tommy Lee.
If anything, the visitors had the edge of terms of quality in the final third and it was former Owl Drew Talbot who played a vital part in the opener in the tenth minute.
Talbot, who notched the Owls' fourth in their League One play-off final win against Hartlepool at Cardiff in 2005, provided a superb cross from the right for Morgan to get on the end of and send his effort into the roof of the net, giving Weaver no chance.
Sheridan's men, who disposed of League One opposition in the shape of Walsall in the last round, will have been keen to hang on to their lead for longer than did and frustrate the majority of the Hillsborough crowd.
But Wednesday took just two minutes to hit back and get on level terms.
Some good play from Clinton Morrison saw the Owls striker turn two markers inside the box after holding the ball up but fail to get round Lee in the Spireites goal, only for Mellor to slide the loose ball into an open net.
It was a thrilling start at S6 and the pace continued throughout the first-half.
Despite the setback, Chesterfield continued to go gung ho at the Owls defence and were unlucky when Jordan Bowery had a goal chalked off for offside - one of two goals to be disallowed for the visitors in the first half.
Craig Davies, Chesterfield's form striker, also came close but was thwarted by the in-form Weaver who came out to make a superb save to deny the striker.
Davies also had an effort controversially chalked off as the first half progressed for offside, although Mark Beevers, who had earlier denied the striker with a fine last-ditch tackle, looked to be playing him onside.
Wednesday still carved out some good chances of their own, Sedgwick firing a powerful shot inches wide of Lee's goal, the Chesterfield stopper looking to have got fingertips to the strike even though a goal kick was awarded.
The lively Morrison is also came close to deflecting a Gary Teale cross in as chance came at both ends.
Half-Time: Wednesday 1-1 Chesterfield
It was going to be a tough task for the second half to be as thrilling as the first, but the opening exchanges kicked-off in a similar vain.
The Owls were on top this time, forcing a number of corners in front of the Kop but without really troubling Lee with any efforts on goal.
At the other end, Derek Niven fired an ambitious shot high and wide as the visitors aimed to return to their attacking standards of the first half.
Chesterfield did pick up their passing game, enjoying much of the possession, but they weren't as creative in the final third and Weaver was enjoying a relatively untroubled time in goal.
The Owls could have turned the game around when a fine run from Teale gave Mellor the chance to double his tally for the night, but the on-loan Preston man rattled his effort against the woodwork.
Darren Purse then saw a header cleared off the line from an in-swinging corner kick by Jones.
Chesterfield brought on former Blade Jack Lester, while Wednesday introduced Marcus Tudgay and Paul Heffernan as both managers looked to seal their progression before the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
But it was that man Davies, who always looked a threat for the visitors, who gave Chesterfield what looked to be the winning strike with six minutes to go when he neatly side-footed an effort beyond Weaver and into the far corner following a neat through-ball by Griffiths.
The Spireites were moments away from a famous win but the midfield engine that is Giles Coke kept on ticking and brought Wednesday the chance to level when he burst into the box and was felled by Niven.
Tudgay stepped up and saw his penalty saved but was fortunate enough to ram in the rebound to take the game to spot-kicks.
Both sides had missed penalties, with Heffernan the culprit for Wednesday, before Darren Potter missed and gave Dwayne Mattis the chance to score, although Weaver produced a second superb save to keep Wednesday in the game.
He had to do it again when he saved superbly to deny Simon Ford after Chris Sedgwick missed his penalty.
Weaver then stepped up himself with all outfield players having taken a penalty to ram the ball down the throat of the net and put Wednesday within a whisker of the next round.
And the unfortunate Lee couldn't follow in Weaver's footsteps and he steered his penalty high and wide to see the Owls through to the northern section quarter-final.
Full-Time: Wednesday 2-2 Chesterfield (Owls win 8-7 on pens)