Wednesday 0-1 Stevenage
14/2/12 - 7.45pm
Wednesday endured a night to quickly forget at Hillsborough as they slipped to defeat against in-form Stevenage and dropped out of the League One automatic promotion spots - with Sheffield United leapfrogging the Owls into second.
A single strike just before half-time from Scott Laird proved enough for the visitors, who inflicted back-to-back defeats on Gary Megson's men, who now trail their Steel City rivals by two points having played two games more.
The Owls huffed and puffed and arguably deserved something for their efforts but never really responded to criticism from boss Gary Megson following the 2-1 loss at lowly Exeter City at the weekend.
Megson made changes to his starting eleven - with Jon Otsemobor coming in for Julian Bennett at the back and Chris Lines also returning in the midfield, with John Bostock not even included in the matchday squad.
But the changes did little to spark life into Wednesday's largely ineffective attacking threat. It was the visitors who threatened goal first when Joel Byrom fired a long-range effort wide.
Wednesday struggled to carve out much at the other end, even with wing wizard Jermaine Johnson enjoying a purple patch in front of goal, with Boro making life difficult for the hosts.
It was always going to be the case, with Stevenage riding high in sixth and being one of the form sides in the division coming into the contest. Wednesday did have the majority of the ball but they did little to trouble their visitors, who were happy to look to hit Wednesday with the counter-attack.
Both goalkeepers had relatively little to deal with but Stevenage stopper Chris Day did have to thwart in-form Johnson when he beat two markers before unleashing a powerful shot which was well saved.
The Owls couldn't make their possession of the ball count before the break, however, and Boro typically made them pay just a minute before the break.
Byrom drifted a corner to the back-post and Laird rose high to head his side ahead and leave the Owls with plenty to ponder at half-time.
Half-Time: Wednesday 0-1 Stevenage
The visitors were happy to sit back and soak up anything thrown at them in the first half, while hitting the Owls on the break - so things were going to be even tougher for an Owls side lacking creativity in the second half.
Wednesday needed a goal at least and Johnson showed signs of promise when he beat his man and sent in a dangerous ball that Gary Madine came inches from connecting to.
David Prutton was the next man to come close to scoring when he got on the end of a Chris O'Grady ball but Day did brilliantly to deny the midfielder and keep his side ahead as the hosts upped their gear.
Megson introduced Clinton Morrison in place of Madine after the hour mark but that did little to change Wednesday's fortunes in the final third.
Both goalkeepers were relative spectators, even though Wednesday did enjoy more of the ball, something which was frustrating for the 16,000-plus inside Hillsborough on Valentine's Day.
But there was little love in the stands as Wednesday continued to pour forward in search of a leveller but it never looked like coming.
Chris Lines did fire a long-range effort over the bar but that was the closest Wednesday came in a frustrating and disappointing night at S6 that gives the Owls it all to do if they're to achieve a top-two finish this term.
Full-Time: Wednesday 0-1 Stevenage
Wednesday: Bywater, Otsemebor, R Jones, Batth, Buxton, Prutton (M Jones 74), Lines, Semedo, J Johnson, Madine (Morrison 67), O'Grady. Unused substitutes: Weaver, Beevers, Bennett.
Stevenage: Day, Wilson, Laird, Charles (May 69) Ashton, Byrom, Roberts, Freeman (Long 79), Beardsley (Edwards 88), Bostwick, Henry. Unused substitutes: Julian, Cowan.
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