Burnley 1-2 Wednesday
31/12/05 - 13:00
Wednesday ended 2005 on a high after putting to bed their disastrous run of nine games without a win with a 2-1 victory away at promotion chasing Burnley.
A second minute goal from Chris Eagles and a second half Graham Coughlan header also ended the unwanted record of seven goals without a goal.
Both Glenn Whelen and Steve Adams were carrying knock going in to the game, but it was Adams who was given a starting role, with John Hills coming in to replace Whelen. Barry Corr continued up front alongside Chris Brunt. Chris Eagles was to play his final game on loan for the Owls, and would return to Manchester United straight after the match. To mark the occassion, he led the side out for the first half - but Graham Coughlan was made captain.
Eagles couldn't have wished for a better start to his final game, as he put the visitors ahead after just five minutes. Hills was already impressing down the left side of midfield, and his low cross found Eagles waiting for a simple tap in at the far post which sent the 2,000 or so travelling Barmy Army into hysterics.
Hills was looking fired up for the game and wanted to regain his place in the side afte his unfortunate car accident. He showed maybe a little bit too much enthusiasm after 10 minutes when his late challenge on Wade Elliott ruled him out of Monday's clash with Crewe after recieving a yellow card.
Wednesday were playing the best football seen by Owls fans for a long time, and they nearly doubled their lead thanks to a bit of luck on the 17th minute. Chris Eagles broke free on the right and his deflected cross looped over Burnley goalkeeper Brian Jenson and hit the far post.
Wednesday were in control, and Burton O'Brien nearly made it 2-0 with a brilliant mazy run in to the Burnley penalty box, only for his powerful shot to be brilliantly turned over the bar by Jenson.
Wednesday went in to the half time break with a deserved 1-0 lead, which could have so easily been three or four.
The second half was to be much different though, as Burnley were to show why they are doing so well this season.
The hosts were taking the game to Wednesday, and almost forced an equaliser through a Micah Hyde header which was cleared off the line by Hills.
The Clarets were throwing everything at Wednesday but Ade Akinbye and Gifton Noel-Williams were finding it tough against a resiliant Owls defence. Paul Sturrock wanted to keep the defence together for a number of games to get some continuity, and it seemed to have paid off.
Wednesday's second goal came in the 56th minute from a Graham Coughlan header which sent the travelling support wild. Chris Brunt provided the corner for the former Plymouth Argyle defender to notch up his fourth goal of the season and become the Owls second leading scorer.
Paul Sturrock tried to shut up shop for the Owls and made his first change by taking off Steve Adams and replacing him with Glenn Whelen. Sturrock later revealed that Adams will not be available for the Crewe game after performinh heroics at Turf Moor.
Lee Bullen was later brought on to replace the impressive Eagles, and Drissa Diallo made a return to his former club when he replaced Barry Corr. Corr had probably his best game for the Owls, and despite being a stop-gap until Sturrock could bring in new faces, the manager will have certainly been impressed by his performance.
By this time Burnely were throwing everything at the Wednesday defence in a desperate bid to get something from the game. The pitch wasn't in the best condition, and that seemed to work to Wednesday's advantage as despite the hosts second half domination, they rarely threatened Nicky Weaver's goal.
Burnley scored what turned out to be their consolation goal on 85 minutes thanks to a Garreth O'Connor spot-kick which was nearly saved by Weaver in the Wednesday goal.
Wednesdy were made to sweat for the final five minutes of the game, but despite a few scrappy instances on the edge of the box, the only real effort was from a free-kick which hit the well positioned wall.
Despite soaking up immense pressure from the hosts in the final half an hour, Wednesday fully deserved their three points at what many are calling their 'lucky ground', following a 7-2 victory at Turf Moor the last time out. The win may kick-start the Owls season, but will mean nothing if they don't take points from their next two home matches against relegation rivals Crewe Alexandre and Leicester City.
Determination personified. It was the first time John Hills had featured for the Owls since being involved in a near-fatal car accident. The former Gillingham man surely staked a claim for a starting place in the side after creating the first goal, and wearing his heart on his sleeve.
Paul Sturrock said:
'But when you're in the position in the league that we are, you get very apprehensive as the game unwinds.
'We finished up and it was like the Alamo the last 10 or 15 minutes but they stuck their head in, cleared their lines and worked their tails off.'
Steve Cotterill said:
'You've got to give them (Wednesday) credit. They came here and out-fought us and out-scrapped us.
'That's unlike us because we don't normally lose those contests and for an hour we were second-best.'