Match report: Sheffield Wednesday 0 Doncaster Rovers 1

Owls pair Jermaine Johnson and Giles Coke look shell-shocked after yet anothe defeat.
Owls pair Jermaine Johnson and Giles Coke look shell-shocked after yet anothe defeat.
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It is 14 years since Wednesday fans had to wait so long at the start of a season for the club’s first league win.

The Owls took only one point from the first nine games before they were relegated from the Premier League in 1999-2000.

Rovers new boy Federico Macheda scores with a header against local rivals Sheffield Wednesday.

Rovers new boy Federico Macheda scores with a header against local rivals Sheffield Wednesday.

They won the 10th match 5-1 (against Wimbledon) and if only such a fillip could come their way this time to get them out the rut of eight games with a victory.

At least they took a small step in the right direction on Saturday, in a way, simply because the performance was an improvement on the previous two, against Yeovil and Birmingham.

On the other hand, it was the first time this season that they have failed to score. But it was not for the want of trying.

The Owls played so much cohesive football that at half-time they were applauded off the field from three sides of the ground.

Inevitably there were a few boos at the final whistle but there was no venting of any anti-establishment feeling.

Instead, it was a time for the club and supporters to puzzle over how they managed to lose a contest they dominated for long periods.

There was a combination of factors - the missing of what few chances were created, shortcomings in the final ball or cross, good defending and goalkeeping from Rovers, and a winning goal that was sloppy from Wednesday’s point of view but perfectly executed from the Doncaster perspective.

So the goal and result overshadowed an impressive home debut by Stephen McPhail, who pulled strings in midfield, the best display yet from Atdhe Nuhiu and some assured work from Roger Johnson as he made his Hillsborough bow.

It was especially bitter for the Owls in that the one man to find the net was on-loan Federico Macheda, a player they might have signed and who has now hit three goals in two games for Rovers.

Dave Jones reflected: “That can happen. My concern is that he hasn’t had a sniff all game, and shouldn’t even have got the header four or five yards out. The players in there are responsible for that. It’s a poor goal to give away.”

Jones has declined to go into detail about how Macheda ended up signing for Doncaster and not Wednesday. The player seemed to give a guarded response to questions about the affair. On loan initially for a month, he is so content at the Keepmoat that he wants to stay at least until January. “I came to Doncaster because I felt very wanted by the manager. I think I made the right choice,” he said.

He admitted that he did have the chance to join the Owls: “Yes, I did, but it’s not my fault if I didn’t come here. Maybe there have been some problems; I don’t know. Maybe they didn’t really want me the same as Doncaster. Maybe they weren’t so sure about me. I went to Doncaster because they really wanted me.”

While Macheda enjoyed the spotlight, it was a low-key start for the striker whom Wednesday did borrow, Matty Fryatt, who went on as a sub two minutes before the goal.

Fryatt did not get much of a chance to show what he can do, but he played one neat one-two with Nuhiu and very nearly set Giles Coke free in the box with a clever backheel.

Jones explained why he did not give Fryatt a start: “He only came in on Friday. Sometimes it’s best to sit the player there, let him have a look at you, get a feel for the place. When he came on, he had one or two good little touches, was unlucky with one or two things that didn’t fall his way. He’s a goalscorer, and he’ll be a big asset to the club.”

Macheda

- who generally had an undistingushed game on Saturday - made his Rovers debut as a sub, a fortnight ago.

Fryatt seems certain to make a full debut at Brighton tomorrow. Nuhiu, though left out for the last two away games, staked a claim to keep

his place this time.

He was the main threat. He put an early chance wide, saw an effort cleared from the goalmouth, had a header cleared off the line by Rob Jones, and went close with a header from a McPhail corner.

Jones said: “Atdhe did well. There are lots of things he can improve on. He’s now adjusting to the game here. He was unlucky with a couple of chances; he had a couple cleared off the line; on another day it goes in. He’s a threat.”

The manager enthused over two home debuts: “Stephen McPhail ran the show. I can’t remember him giving the ball away. His set-plays were spot on. Roger Johnson did what he does: he heads it, he tackles.”

The centre-half could also have grabbed the spotlight. He had an injury-time chance but mis-hit his shot.

Miguel Llera too could have been a hero, earlier. His far-post header from a cross by McPhail was well saved by Ross Turnbull.

Rovers were second best all over the park in the first half. With Paul Dickov giving them a gee-up at half- time, and bringing on James Coppinger to provide more width, they improved, but it was still against the run of play when Coppinger’s cross was headed home by Macheda as the striker came in behind Llera.

That lifted Doncaster, and Wednesday wilted a little. Macheda hit wide and Chris Kirkland made a double stop from Richie Wellens.

Jones admitted: “It’s hard for everybody. If you play poorly and lose, you have to accept it. But when you give everything ... I think the supporters stuck with the team. We’ve got to keep fighting, and we won’t allow anyone to feel sorry for themselves.”