MATCH REPORT: Sheffield Wednesday 0 Stevenage 1

Agony: A dejected Danny Batth at the final whistle
Agony: A dejected Danny Batth at the final whistle

WEDNESDAY have now lost two League games in a row for only the second time this season after coming unstuck against set pieces.

On Saturday at Exeter it was two free kicks; against Stevenage last night a corner did the damage.

It was all that divided two top-six sides at Hillsborough though the Owls made most of the running.

Waves of attacks were repelled by opponents who were well drilled and stubborn and showed why they have lost only once in their last 20 games.

The Owls often lacked penetration but could still have retained their second place if they had managed more quality around the box.

They almost made a dream start. Chris O’Grady charged towards the Leppings Lane end and let fly from 20 yards: Chris Day did well to touch the ball over the bar.

Jermaine Johnson joined in with some typical runs and sent a buzz of anticipation from the crowd whenever he set off.

But it was not until a free kick was won around 32 yards out that the Owls had their next real strike at goal.

Chris Lines - playing on the right side of midfield - curled it past the wall but Day caught the ball easily.

Wednesday also had a bit of defending to do against set pieces.

With less than half an hour gone there were signs of some frustration in the home crowd. There were even some boos after a mis-hit pass by David Prutton.The midfield man made amends by finding the overlapping Lewis Buxton. The left back’s cross was chested down by Gary Madine but the striker’s volley was charged down.

Jones might have done better than head a Jose Semedo cross wide, and too strong a touch by Madine let him down when he was in a promising position just outside the area.

Another good move saw Johnson run with the ball then find Prutton, who was steaming forward in search of a shooting position when he was chopped down by Lawrie Wilson.

Johnson, instead of playing on the left wing, had a started in a more central role behind the front two.

It allowed him to pick up the ball deep and then make his runs, which he did before unleashing a tremendous strike from 28 yards in the 41st minute. Day pushed it over the bar with difficulty.

Lines’s cross from the resulting corner was headed over the bar by Jones, whose reaction suggested he thought he might have made it count.

Wednesday had shown the greater initiative but they fell behind in the 45th minute after giving away a corner.

The right-side kick by midfielder Joel Byrom was delivered to the far post. Striker Chris Beardsley headed down into the middle and left back Scott Laird steered the ball home close range with his left foot.

The Owls might have equalised five minutes into the second half: a great ball from O’Grady sent Johnson away down the left; JJ played the ball low across goal and Madine, running in, failed to get on the end of it.

Johnson began this half on the left; Lines was in the middle and Prutton on the right of a 4-4-2.

Wednesday had a lot of possession as they attacked the Kop end. But it was hard going against a side who were tough to break down.The Owls huffed and puffed and struggled to make a chance. When they did so, an unbelievable stop by Day denied them.

O’Grady ran down the left and played a fine ball acorss goal. Prutton slid in to get a boot to it but the ball bounced away off the keeper, apparently hitting him in the face.

Johnson, playing down the right after the arrival of Mike Jones, made an opening for O’Grady, who shot tamely at the keeper.

Stevenage held out, and Wednesday must now focus on doing better against Chesterfield and United.

Gary Megson made three changes to the side that started the 2-1 defeat at Exeter on Saturday.

Lines, Jon Otsemobor and Rob Jones came in for John Bostock, Julian Bennett and the injured Miguel Llera.

Stevenage, who suffered three postponements recently, fielded the team that beat Notts County 1-0 in the FA Cup in their previous game three weeks ago.

The Owls wore black armbands after the death yesterday of Tom McAnearney, a Hillsborough star of the 50s and 60s. He was 79.

OWLS: Bywater 7, Otsemobor 7, Batth 7, R Jones 7, Buxton 7, Lines 6, Semedo 6, Prutton 6 (M Jones 74), J Johnson 8, Madine 5 (Morrison 67, 6), O’Grady 7. Unused subs: Weaver, Bennett, Beevers.

BORO: Day 7, Henry 5, Roberts 7, Ashton 7, Laird 7, Wilson 6, Byrom 7, Bostwick 7, Freeman 8 (Long 79), Beardsley 6 (Edwards 88), Charles 6 (May 69, 6). Unused subs: Julian, Cowan.

Bookings: Roberts, 13, Lines 31.