Birmingham 2-0 Wednesday
28/04/07 - 15:00
Wednesday's hopes of a play-off place were ended against 10-man Birmingham City on Saturday thanks to goals from former Owls trialist Cameron Jerome and Sebastian Larsson in front a bumper St Andrews crowd.
The Owls put in a brave effort and should have made their chances pay after the sending-off of Fabrice Muamba for two bookable offences, but Kenny Lunt could only hit the bar from yards out while the hosts made the most of their opportunities at the other end to put them on track for a swift return to the Premiership.
Owls boss Brian Laws was boosted with the inclusion of Deon Burton in the squad following an injury to the eye, while Kenny Lunt came in to replace the recalled Steve Watson and Chris Adamson was given his chance in goal in place of Iain Turner who had been recalled to Everton.
Meanwhile, Blues boss Steve Bruce stuck with the same starting eleven which pulled off a superb victory in a five-goal thriller with local rivals Wolves last weekend.
Bot sets of fans paid tribute for World Cup winner Alan Ball who sadly passed away earlier in the week, even with renditions of 'One Alan Ball' coming from the Owls section.
But the atmosphere couldn't carry over in to the match itself as both sides endured a scrappy opening with no chances falling to either side early on.
Many would have expected to hosts to come out the traps all guns blazing to test Adamson in the Wednesday goal but the closest they came was after 21 minutes when McSheffrey was sent free with a net through-ball but was pulled back by the assistant referee for offside.
And as Wednesday began to dominate the play possession wise the home crowd soon became strangely quiet as some neat passing in the Wednesday attack carved out a number of corners which the Owls should have capitalised from.
Deon Burton broke free down the right and confused the Birmingham defence before putting a dangerous ball in to the box which Maclean was inches away from prodding in to the back of the net only to see the Brum defender clear for a corner.
And Burton himself had a golden opportunity to give Wednesday the lead but his close range effort from one of the resulting corners was blocked by a Birmingham defender.
The hosts were still looking lively on the attack though only to see the final efforts of Bendtner, Cole and McSheffrey all fail to trouble Adamson who was having an easier than expected ride in the first half.
Half-Time: Birmingham 0-0 Wednesday
The game carried on where it left off in the second half with a high-tempo feel to it but nothing in the way of clear-cut chances.
The first notable action in the second half came when Fabrice Muamba was shown a yellow card which later on proved to be fatal for the midfielder after a rash challenge on Steve Maclean.
The Blues continued to become frustrated with their visitors and Rahdi Jaidi quickly followed his teammate in to the referee's book with a challenge on Richard Wood after the Wakefield-born defender went on a superb mazy run through the heart of the Birmingham defence which set up a dangerous free-kick.
And Wednesday were given the advantage just before the hour mark as Muamba was sent-off for a second bookable offence for a late challenge on Glenn Whelan.
But where the Owls should have gone on in search of the three points the man deficit seemed to lift the hosts even more.
Wednesday did have a golden chance minutes later as some superb build up play saw Maclean put in Kenny Lunt, but the former Crewe man could only smash the Birmingham bar from just yards out after beating his man and Marcus Tudgay saw his rebounded effort blocked to safety.
But a rash challenge by Lee Bullen gave the hosts a good opportunity from a free-kick at the edge of the box which seemed to be headed wide for a goal-kick by substitute Cameron Jerome.
The referee awarded a corner-kick though and from that Adamson dropped his attempted catch to the feet of former Cardiff hitman Jerome to put the hosts in front and send the majority of the fans inside St Andrews barmy.
Only a win would do for Wednesday and boss Laws made a number of attacking substitutions including Jermaine Johnson and Leon Clarke being added to the fray, but the hosts managed to counter attack in superb style to make the game safe.
Sebastian Larsson went on a mazy run down the right and beat youngster Tommy Spurr for pace before turning inside Richard Wood and slotting a superb finish by Adamson to make it 2-0 and secure the points.
Wednesday thought they found their way back in to the game late on as Leon Clarke looked to have steered home a Steve Maclean effort but the assistant referee adjudged it to be offside to the dismay of the Owls attack.
But the Wednesday dream was over until next season at least, with the Owls team enjoying a good sending off from the superb travelling Barmy Army.
Brian Laws told BBC Sport
"I said each team was going to have their moments and who dealt with those better would come out on top. Unfortunately, we were not as clinical as we would have liked to have been.
"Had Kenny Lunt's shot gone in, rather than hitting the bar when it was 0-0, I believe there would have been no way back for Birmingham.
"But what we can look on is a great end to the season and I am as proud as punch with my players."
Steve Bruce told BBC Sport
"If it has to go to the wire, then so be it but it's a big ask for Derby on Sunday now.
"Personally I feel we should all be kicking off at the same time. I know TV has got a part to play but, when there are only one or two games left, we should all start at the same time.
"It is a big disadvantage to Derby and I would not like to have to play catch-up like we had to last weekend."