Wednesday 2-2 Walsall
20/3/12 - 7.45pm
GARY Madine's late strike salvaged a point for Wednesday against a battling Walsall side, but it was very much two points dropped in the battle for promotion for Dave Jones and his men.
The Saddlers had troubled Wednesday at their Bescot Stadium back in December and did the same in S6 against the odds, twice leading but twice being pegged back.
Jon Macken and Jamie Paterson netted for the visitors in the second half but Ryan Lowe and then Madine rescued a point as the Owls slipped two points behind Sheffield United in the quest for second spot in League One.
Wednesday were left frustrated at not taking first-half chances. Ryan Lowe was guilty of a missing a couple of golden opportunities while Michail Antonio twice struck the woodwork.
But Walsall, managed by former Owl Dean Smith, arrived with a game plan and stuck to it throughout, disappointed at conceding an added-time equaliser but no doubt pleased with a point.
Jones made no changes to his side for the fourth game in a row, although Jermaine Johnson did return on the bench.
It was the right decision, with Wednesday continuing where they left off from Notts County at the weekend. The Owls were the better team in the first half and should have been ahead at the interval.
The first chance fell to Lowe from a Chris Lines set-piece five minutes in but he shot over the bar - it was to set the tone for the night for the former Bury man, and for the Owls.
Lowe came close again not long after when a Mike Jones free-kick was headed back across the face of goal by Rob Jones but Lowe's shot was off-target.
Antonio then looked to take matters into his own hands when he collected the ball, drove at the Walsall defence and smacked a thumping shot that beat the goalkeeper but skimmed the top of the crossbar.
The on-loan Reading man had found his feet and his shot came rebounding off the bar again minutes later, creating a shot from nothing but being denied by the frame of the goal.
The hosts continued to carve out the best chances but Walsall survived the Wednesday onslaught and even showed signs of their attacking capabilities before the break only for Alex Nicholls to fail to connect to a dangerous ball and let the Owls off the hook.
Half-Time: Wednesday 0-0 Walsall
The Owls continued to look most threatening on the restart, although they failed to create as many clear-cut chances as the first half.
With the scores still level, Smith's side grew in confidence and they took the lead, somewhat against the run of play, just before the hour mark through experienced former Manchester City, Preston and Barnsley striker Macken.
Florent Cuvelier was the architect for the Saddlers, breaking free before putting the chance on a plate for Macken, who wasn't going to miss in front of the travelling Walsall fans behind Stephen Bywater's goal.
But they'd barely finished celebrating in the Leppings Lane end before the Owls had levelled. A Lines corner found its way to the back post and Lowe, who squeezed his low effort under the Saddlers stopper to level the scores.
Jones introduced Johnson to the fray in place of Mike Jones, and the Jamaican almost instantly made his mark when he powered a shot that dipped onto the roof of the net.
The Owls were hit with another sucker-punch in the 73rd minute, however, through Paterson, and a fine goal it was too. The Owls marking was poor but Paterson's curling effort gave Bywater no chances as it nestled into the back of the net.
It looked to be enough for the visitors, with Wednesday huffing and puffing to get on level terms again but failing. Antonio forced David Grof, the Saddlers goalkeeper, into a good save but the points looked to be heading back to the Midlands.
That was until four minutes into added time when Madine levelled matters at the second time of asking to give the Owls something to show for their efforts and leave the visitors deflated.
Full-Time: Wednesday 2-2 Walsall
Wednesday: Bywater, Buxton, R Jones, Batth, Bennett, Antonio, Semedo, Lines, M Jones (Johnson 63), Madine, Lowe (O'Grady 81). Unused substitutes: Jameson, Llera, Prutton.
Walsall: Grof, Sadler, Butler, Smith, Macken (Bowerman 90), Hurst, Beevers, Paterson (Westlake 90), Nicholls, Cuvelier, Mantom. Unused substitutes: Walker, Lancashire, Ledesma.
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