Watford 2-1 Wednesday
Vicarage Road, Watford
02/10/07 - 19:45
Wednesday were unable to make it three league wins on the spin against table-topping Watford but were able to take plenty of heart from a performance which could, and maybe should, have merited much more.
Former Owls target Darius Henderson and Marlon King bagged the Hornets goals as the hosts looked rampant in the early stages.
But Wednesday got themselves back in to the clash and looked the more likely to level in the second half with a much-improved performance which saw a number of chances come and go, and a penalty decision waved away.
Owls boss Brian Laws was forced in to making six changes to the side that beat Norwich on Saturday with his squad carrying a number of knocks and injuries to Aidy Boothroyd's table toppers.
Lee Grant had to sit out through illness and was replaced by Rob Burch while Tommy Spurr, Francis Jeffers, Wade Small, Richard Wood and Steve Watson were all missing for the trip to Vicarage Road.
Jermaine Johnson came in on the left while Marcus Tudgay was forced to fill in on the right and Akpo Sodje partnered Deon Burton in attack, Richard Hinds filled in for Richard Wood at the back.
Watford boss Aidy Boothroyd was keen to ensure that his men 'finished off' their opponents following the weekend draw with Blackpool on home soil, and his men set out in determined fashion with a rampant start to the match.
And it took them just six minutes to gain the advantage as former Owls target Darius Henderson finished neatly from close range after a flick on from Dan Shittu.
But Watford weren't going to take their foot off the gas, and they kept pressing the Owls inside their own half.
Wednesday had Burch to thank for a superb save from Williamson after 15 minutes as Watford piled on the pressure on the Wednesday goal.
And the Hornets got their second of the night just minutes later as Richard Hinds pulled Henderson inside the box and conceded a penalty which Marlon King slotted by Burch to double their advantage.
Watford continued to push forward but the makeshift Owls defence held firm and prevented any further clear cut chances for the hosts as Wednesday began to get in to the game.
The Owls created half a chance after 25 minutes from a corner as Graham Kavanagh's deep cross found Sodje whose scrambled header went back to the Owls loanee and he lashed an effort across the six yard box but to no avail.
And Wednesday came closer just minutes later as Richard Hinds' goal-bound header somehow hit Deon Burton on the line from another Kavanagh cross and went out for a Watford goal kick to the dismay of the travelling Wednesday fans behind the goal.
And utlity man Hinds had another chance just minutes later as he forced a fine save from Watford stopper Mart Poom, but the Owls were showing signs of getting back in to the game with a number of good efforts.
Wednesday had come in to the game no end and they were rewarded before the break as Graham Kavanagh's terrific strike found the back of the net as the Sunderland loanee bagged his first goal in the blue and white stripes.
The goal had visibly lifted Wednesday and Frank Simek's superb run down the right forced a series of corners which troubled the Watford defence.
Henderson had another chance just before the break from a tight angle to restore Watford's two-goal advantage but his header edged against the post and out for a Wednesday goal-kick.
Half-Time: Watford 2-1 Wednesday
As if Wednesday's injury worries weren't bad enough, Laws was forced in to making a substitution at the break with Richard Hinds being replaced by Lee Bullen at the heart of the defence.
And the Owls made an impressive start to the second half as they played the opening five minutes inside the Hornets half, with Glenn Whelan having a pop from a long-range free-kick but seeing his effort crash against the Watford wall.
And it was less than ten minutes in to the second half when Wednesday made their second change as Frank Simek was brought off with what was believed to be a knock to be replaced by Etienne Esajas.
Wednesday continued to create chances and it was Lee Bullen who almost drew the Owls level with a bullet header from a Kavanagh cross after Jermaine Johnson had run half the length of the pitch to force a corner.
And they came even closer as Johnson whipped in a superb cross for Akpo Sodje to fire in to the side netting before Esajas saw his long range effort well saved and Sodje saw another effort well blocked.
The Hornets were a totally different side in the second half and they failed to really trouble the Wednesday defence in the second 45, but Wednesday needed to lift the tempo for the final ten minutes as their chances became few and far between as the match wore on.
But Watford did have a half chance to wrap the points up as a superb cross from the right found King who forced a fine save from Burch before Johnson launched a long-range effort straight in to the arms of the Wednesday stopper.
At the other end, Etienne Esajas was aggrieved not to have been given a penalty as the Wednesday players surrounded the referee following a foul on the Dutchman but the official waved away the protests.
The Owls task was made even harder with just minutes remaining after Jermaine Johnson saw red for a second bookable offence which seemed a tad harsh on the Jamaican international, who will now face a suspension after just getting back in to the side.
The referee had made two crucial decisions against the Owls with the penalty appeal by Esajas waved away while Johnson could also have felt hard done by for two yellow cards.
The Owls may well have fallen to defeat against the league leaders but Brian Laws and his men will be sure to take heart from an encouraging performance which could have seen so much more in the way of points.
Watford were hot favourites to take all three points from the match, and anything taken from the clash could well have been seen as 'bonus points' for Wednesday as they look to climb up the table.
Laws is sure to be looking forward to the weekend match with Leicester City, with a similar performance sure to reap more rewards.
Full-Time: Watford 2-1 Wednesday
Wednesday: Burch; Simek, M Johnson (c), Hinds, Gilbert, J Johnson, Whelan, Kavanagh, Tudgay, Burton, Sodje. Substitutes: Bullen, Beavers, Lunt, O'Brien, Esajas.
Watford: Poom, Stewart, Shittu, DeMerit, Doyley, Johnson, Mahon (c), Williamson, Smith, King, Henderson. Substitutes: Lee, Priskin, McAnuff, Ellington, O'Toole.