Burnley 1-1 Wednesday
10/02/07 - 15:00
Wednesday finally picked up for their first point of the year against an equally out-of-form Burnley side at Turf Moor on Saturday - but it could have been so much more for Brian Laws as the Owls failed to turn their chances in to goals.
Both sides were without a win going in to the clash on a bitterly cold day in Lancashire - and their poor form was pretty obvious to the 12,000-plus crowd in a poor first-half of football between two teams battling for mid-table obscurity.
Owls boss Brian Laws again tinkered with his front two, re-installing the in-form Steve Maclean in the the Wednesday attack alongside Deon Burton, with Marcus Tudgay having to settle for a place on the bench.
New-boy Steve Watson also got his first start in the famous blue and white stripes after signing on loan until the end of the season from West Brom. The former Newcastle and Everton man took the place of Mark Beevers at their heart of the Owls defence.
Glenn Whelan also missed out through injury allowing Yoann Folly the chance to impress the gaffer alongside Kenny Lunt in the centre of midfield.
Both sides were desperate to pick up their first victory of the year but it was Burnley who looked more hungry for the points on a lacklustre first-half which saw chances come few and far between, and the football being anything but easy on the eye.
Owls fans will have recognised the Clarets front two - former Blades hitmen Andy Gray and Ade Akinbiyi - and will have feared the worst when the latter was left unmarked in the box on six minutes but his weak header was easily saved by Mark Crossley from a dangerous Wade Elliott cross.
And the hosts continued their early pressure minutes later with Akinbiyi again at the thick of the action, this time provided a low cross for Steve Jones to mis-kick - a moment which just about summed up the first-half for both teams.
The Owls first chance of the match fell to Deon Burton, who looked to have handled before seeing his goal-bound effort headed off the line in dramatic style by John McGreal.
At the other end Mark Crossley was almost left red-faced as Joey Gudjonsson's corner bounced off the crossbar as the hosts enjoyed the majority of the early possession and chances towards the end occupied by the 2500-strong Owls fans.
But despite Burnley's favourable possession play in the opening 45, it was Wednesday who created the better chances as the half drew on.
Danny Coyne had to be in top form to deny Burton as the former Derby man neatly turned and fired a low shot which was pushed away by the Northern Ireland international before he was on hand to deny Tommy Spurr from point blank range - an opportunity which should have been converted by the young left-back.
Half-Time: Burnley 0-0 Wednesday
Wednesday had a first-half to forget, and after the half-time pies and bovril, Wednesday fans saw a different side take to the Turf Moor pitch after the break, to give a performance which was more like the Owls of a month or so ago.
Kenny Lunt still frustrated in the middle of the park, with a number of adventurous through-balls being picked up relatively easily by the hosts and putting the Owls defence in to trouble on a number of occasions.
But it was a Burnley opener that fired the Owls in to life.
Both former Blades front men were involved in the run up to the goal which saw Wade Elliott break free and fire home from just inside the box. Mark Crossley should probably have done better with the attempted save bu the ball trickled over the line to give the Clarets the advantage early in the second half.
Wednesday fans may have sensed another defeat on the cards at this point, but if anything the goal gave Wednesday a new lease of life, and it was only three minutes until the scores were levelled as Deon Burton headed home from point-blank range after a dangerous Chris Brunt corner kick.
But the pendulum looked to have swung the Clarets way again minutes later as Andy Gray somehow sliced his effort over the ball from the six-yard box while Wade Elliott also failed to trouble Crossley from close range.
Wednesday's defensive frailties may have remained, despite the impressive performance of Watson at the back, but they certainly looked a different side in attack as they wasted a number of golden opportunities in front of goal.
Wade Small had two chances for himself in a matter of minutes as he was put through on the right-hand side, only to see Danny Coyne save at his near post before John McGreal almost put in to his own net as he deflected an attempted Small cross for a corner kick.
And from the resulting corner Owls new-boy Steve Watson almost opened his account for his new club in fine style but he blasted just wide of goal with Coyne well beaten from a Brunt corner-kick.
Both teams made changes late on with the highly-rated youngster Kyle Lafferty and Eric Djemba-Djemba coming on for the Clarets while Leon Clarke and Marcus Tudgay replaced Small and Maclean late-on in an attempt to take all three points from the match, but both sides were relieved to stop the rot and take a share of the spoils.
Full-Time: Burnley 1-1 Wednesday
Burnley: Coyne: Harley, Duff, McGreal, Caldwell, Elliott, Gudjonsson (Djemba-Djemba, 75), J O'Connor, Jones (McCann 82), Gray (Lafferty 75), Akinbiyi. Subs: Thomas, Foster
Wednesday: Crossley, Bullen, Lunt, MacLean (Tudgay 88), Burton, Brunt, Small (Clarke 88), Watson, Simek, Folly, Spurr. Subs: Gilbert, Beevers, Adamson
Made a great case for a regular partnership between him and Maclean up front with a goal and a brilliant all-round performance. Seems high on confidence, and his link up play and close control contributed the Owls' improved second-half showing.
Brian Laws told BBC Sport:
'We needed to stop the rot and in terms of results we've done that.
'We've got five games coming up, all against teams below us, so we need to kick on from here.'
Steve Cotterill told BBC Sport:
'We need to be prepared to put our bodies on the line and get in there. If you're not prepared to do that you won't score.
'When you're on a bad run, sometimes it's about hope, but sometimes it takes more than that and you have to go and make it happen.'
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