Date:Sunday October 21 2007
Britannia Stadium, Stoke
20/10/07 - 15:00
Losing at home in a drab game against Leicester City one week, putting in a performance and a half to convincingly take all three points from high-flying Stoke City the next - it's what being a Wednesday fan's all about.
And Brian Laws and his men were worthy of an unexpected three points at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday, although the good news was also met with some bad following another crushing injury blow for striker Francis Jeffers.
The injury list hasn't been going in Wednesdays favour in recent weeks with seven players missing for the previous clash with Leicester City.
But the international break had given the Owls' medical staff the time to improve the fitness of a number of players, including Jeffers, ahead of the tough trip to City.
Frank Simek, Steve Watson and Wade Small were still missing, but Tommy Spurr and Richard Wood both recovered to join the defence, while Jermaine Johnson returned from suspension and Michael Johnson and Francis Jeffers both shook off knocks to bag a starting role.
But it wasn't just Wednesday with the problems in the medical room, with Tony Pulis also facing a selection headache following injury to Mamamdy Sidibe and the problems surrounding Vincent Pericard, leaving Stoke without two key attacking options.
And it was Wednesday who made the brighter start to the clash, despite what looked like a daunting task ahead of them.
On-loan Graham Kavanagh had spoken of the importance of the Owls' next three matches, and what better way to start with three points against the club where he played over 200 matches, and he enjoyed the first shot on goal when he sent a low drive wide of the Stoke goal.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis had said in his programme notes that he was unaware of what reaction the Sunderland midfielder would get on his return, and as he continued to cause the City defence problems as the match wore on, he became subject of more and more abuse from the home fans throughout.
Pulis' men had struggled to find any fluency which had seen them enjoy a great start to the campaign, but they broke the deadlock after just 12 minutes as the problems in the Wednesday defence once again came to the forefront to allow Ricardo Fuller to open the scoring.
The former Preston man looked to have fouled Richard Wood while through on goal, but his power saw off the challenge of the Wakefield defender and the efforts of Tommy Spurr to slot a low shot by Grant and open the scoring against the run of play.
Fuller proceeded to enjoy a 'Jonny Wilkinson' celebration in front of the Stoke fans, and had the Owls' defensive problems continued throughout the match, many Owls fans could have well envisaged a rugby score rather than that of a football match.
But Wednesday didn't let their heads drop, and in Jermaine Johnson they have a man capable of causing problems to any defence in the division.
It was the Jamaican international who drew the Owls level just minutes later as some fine interplay between the former Bradford man and the lively Francis Jeffers saw Johnson cut inside two men before launching an unstoppable left foot effort in to the roof of the net.
Johnson helped rip Norwich apart and caused Watford all kinds of problems in the Owls' last journey, and the Stoke faithful were growing increasingly aware that their side's defence was struggling to cope with the pace and the skill of the Owls' winger.
Johnson linked with Jeffers again to almost put Tudgay in, and then the trio did the damage minutes later as Wednesday took turned the game on its head.
Jeffers put a superb ball in for Tudgay to see his low effort come back off the post, but Burton O'Brien picked up the rebound and floated a long ball to the back post where the Owls' number seven was well positioned to head home and give Wednesday the advantage.
Wednesday were in the ascendancy, but they suffered a blow just minutes later as Jeffers was dealt a massive blow with another injury worry after a bad tackle from Stoke's Ryan Shawcross, which saw a yellow card for the City player, and a stretcher for Jeffers.
The former Everton man was keen to put his injury worries to one side, but knew the damage was done instantly by indicating for a substitution the minute he hit the ground.
Deon Burton came on to replace the 'fox in the box' and he almost had an immediate impact on the clash as he fed O'Brien, who neatly threaded the ball through the legs of his marker before flashing a powerful drive across the face of the City goal.
Wednesday continued to dominate, but once again they were let down by defensive errors which have cost the Owls points galore this season.
This time it was Lee Bullen to blame, his weak header failing to find Lee Grant and Fuller being on hand to tuck the ball over the Owls' stoppers head and in to the back of the net to draw the hosts on level terms, rather undeservedly.
Half-Time: Stoke 2-2 Wednesday
Many Wednesday fans will have surely been thinking their chance of an upset had been and gone, but Marcus Tudgay should have put the Owls back in the lead just seconds after the restart but he somehow blasted his effort in to the Owls fans behind the goal from yards out.
The effort seemed to drill the Stoke players in to life, and they enjoyed their best spell on the game, although rarely threatened Lee Grant's goal.
Former Sunderland man Liam Lawrence was central to the Stoke attacks, with his long range effort forcing a comfortable save for Grant, before he put in former Owl Richard Cresswell who somehow fluffed his shot from yards out.
Substitute Peter Sweeney added more pace to the Stoke attack but it was his long range effort just after the hour mark which could have drawn Stoke level but it went straight in to the arms of Grant.
And the best chance of the half for the hosts again fell to Cresswell as some neat work from Fuller gave the former Leeds man the chance to level but Grant performed heroics to grab the ball on the line.
But the Owls left with all three points thanks to a late double salvo from their front pairing which gave them their second victory on the road this season.
And it was former Stoke hero Kavanagh who provided the 85th minute corner which saw Tudgay arrive at the back post to head home his second of the afternoon to the delight of the travelling Wednesday fans behind the goal.
And all nerves were put to rest just minutes later as Deon Burton saw his long-range effort take not one, but two deflections to wrong foot Simonsen and gave the Owls the two-goal cushion which saw the home fans flock out of the Britannia Stadium.
Maybe the luck is starting to turn for the Owls after all...
Wednesday: Grant; Bullen (Hinds 45), Wood, M Johnson, Spurr; J Johnson (Sodje 87), Whelan, Kavanagh, O'Brien, Tudgay, Jeffers (Burton 34). Unused subs: Lunt, Esajas.
Stoke: Simonsen; Zakuani, Shawcross, Matteo, Wilkinson; Lawrence, Eustace, Delap, Cresswell, Fuller, Parkin (Sweeney 62). Unused subs: Hoult, Buxton, Dickinson, Phillips.
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Date:Sunday October 21 2007
|Sheff Wed||0||-||0||Derby County|
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