MATCH REPORT: Wolverhampton 1 Sheffield Wednesday 0

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sheffield Wednesday....wolves keeper Carl Ikeme at full stretch to collect the ball of Owls skipper Martin Taylor
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sheffield Wednesday....wolves keeper Carl Ikeme at full stretch to collect the ball of Owls skipper Martin Taylor
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ONE occasional wrong decision may be expected.

But when a team suffer from a second, then a third and a fourth in the space of few weeks then they are entitled to think that they are being harshly punished.

That is not counting the controversy over Wolves’ winning goal, a strike that was all that prevented the Owls from collecting a deserved away point after their best defensive performance in the league this season.

There were no costly basic errors this time. The back four of Jermaine Johnson, Martin Taylor, Anthony Gardner and Joe Mattock played solidly in the main.

Dave Jones’ changed tactics worked to a large degree, with Jose Semedo acting as a defensive screen in front of them.

The midfield four provided a certain stability, yet Chris O’Grady, on the left, and Michail Antonio on the right, had licence to get forward and support Jay Bothroyd whenever possible.

The Owls did not just set out to frustrate a

Wolves side who were looking for a fourth successive Championship win. They started very brightly, and might have got their reward in the second minute had they not come off worst yet again in a penalty incident.

Bothroyd held the ball up well in the first half and Antonio, after racing on to his flick in the second minute, was clipped by left-back Stephen Ward in the box , went down, bounced back up and got in an off-target shot, which was also a chance.

Wednesday’s six-match losing run has also included the penalty uproar over a ridiculous decision that changed the nature of the game at Crystal Palace; a spot-kick for an accidental handball in the Huddersfield game, and another one against them for a foul that was outside the box at Southampton.

Jones also questioned the referee’s handling of Wolves’ decisive free-kick.

Sako had shot wide with his first attempt while the ref was in the box with his back to the ball and making sure the wall was 10 yards back. The winger was booked for taking the kick too early, but, as per the rules, was allowed a second attempt, and scored.

If Mr Hooper had not told Sako to wait for the whistle, then his quick, off-target free-kick would have been permissible and play would have re-started with a goal-kick to the Owls.

Jones insisted there was no evidence on video to suggest the referee told the player to wait, and his players heard nothing, and he wondered why Sako had taken the kick quickly if he had been instructed not to.

TV film did, however, show Hooper raising his whistle towards goal, and clearly not expecting a quick free-kick, because he was attending to the players in the box.

Whatever the rights or wrong, it was an unusual incident, and maybe typical of this strange run in which Wednesday find themselves.

You could also say they were unlucky because Sako’s successful shot flew through legs of Semedo, and Chris Kirkland might have saved it if he had been able to see it a split second earlier.

Wolves would say it was a set-piece ploy that paid off. They had two men in the wall who broke away, leaving a gap as there were no markers behind them. Semedo instinctively took a step to his right to cover it and that’s when the ball sped between his legs.

The Owls will also reflect on the moment, during their sparkling start, when Antonio crossed to the near post, O’Grady dived at the ball and just failed to make contact. That came soon after O’Grady put a shot into the side-netting after Antonio found him.

There were a few times when Wednedsday made not clear-cut chances but situations where they might have done better with the cross, final ball or attempt at goal.

They restricted Wolves mostly to shots from medium to long range, but sub winger Slawomir Peszko did drive an opportunity across goal in the 64th minute, during a period where Wolves looked comfortable and controlled passages of play.

The Owls did seem to run out of steam as the second half wore on and struggled to achieve penetration. But I still thought that they deserved a point, on the whole, while accepting Stale Solbakken’s right to be biased towards his side.

He thought Jones had “watched a different game” if he thought the home team were unlucky, and the Wolves boss adopted the Arsene Wenger policy of not being in the right position to judge the penalty incident.

Solbakken claimed: “We were by far the best team. They didn’t have one chance. We controlled the game for long periods. Also their set-pieces, which they are normally good at, we took care of.”

Owls fans would take the opposite view: that their team are not seeing set-pieces pay off. There was an example just before the goal. In a position just as dangerous as that of the Wolves free-kick, the ball was touched to Ross Barkley and his effort was yards off target.

Jones said: “We got into some good positions but snatched at it with the final ball or shot in the anxiety to get that goal.

“We stifled Wolves, then when we won the ball we tried to get at them.

“We haven’t been losing games week in week out because of decisions the referee has or hasn’t made. We were conceding goals.

“But just when you think you’ve done well and are in for your first clean sheet for a while, and you get a bad decision, you feel hard done by.

“We have to keep digging in, keep going.”