Sheffield Wednesday: Owls face 2005 final foe

Jon Daly celebrates his goal for Hartlepool against Wednesday in the 2005 League One play-off final at Cardiff
Jon Daly celebrates his goal for Hartlepool against Wednesday in the 2005 League One play-off final at Cardiff
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Rhys McCabe may be a Wednesday star of the future who tonight faces opposition from his immediate past.

But the possible presence of Jon Daly in the Rangers side adds a touch of nostalgia to the all-ticket Hillsborough friendly.

Daly, a 6ft 3in centre forward, headed the goal that put Hartlepool 2-1 up against the Owls in the 2005 League One play-off final.

That Millennium Stadium showdown of course ended as one of the great occasions of Wednesday’s recent history as, having also led 1-0, they hit back to win 4-2 in front of 40,000 of their fans.

Despite the visit tonight from almost 5,000 Rangers fans and an unusually large attendance for an Owls pre-season friendly, the affair will be relatively low key, with the result less important and the game seen by both clubs as an aid towards preparation for the start of league football next month. Yet for McCabe and Daly, the game has spice.

It is McCabe’s 21st birthday; if he plays, he will be up against the team whom he quit last year - a decision that still irks some Gers fans; he also has family and friends who are Rangers fans.

The midfield player has already spoken of his intention to ignore any outside distractions and concentrate on his own game tonight.

His biggest aim during pre-season is to convince Dave Jones that he is worth a place in the Wednesday team that will kick off the Championship season at QPR on August 3.

Daly will hope to be in Ally McCoist’s side when Rangers, champions of the Scottish Third Division, begin their league campaign against Brechin City at Ibrox on August 10.

The big striker dented Wednesday’s promotion hopes for a spell during that 2005 final. A lead created by Paul McGovern had been wiped out. But Steve MacLean’s penalty forced extra time, and goals from Glenn Whelan and Drew Talbot clinched victory.

Daly had only just been signed by Hartlepool, from Stockport. After two years at Victoria Park, he joined Dundee United, and on the expiry of his contract there he has joined Rangers this summer.

The 30-year-old will be keen to add to his first goal for the Gers, netted in Saturday’s 1-0 win against Dutch Second Division club Emmen.

Rangers have won all five of their friendlies, all away, without conceding a goal.

They beat Highland League team Bora Rangers 2-0, and notched 1-0 wins against Scottish Third Division side Elgin City, League One’s Bristol City, and German outfit Gutersloh.

McCoist’s men spent last week in Marienfeld, Germany.

They play Scottish Second Division club Albion Rovers away in the Ramsden’s Cup on Sunday, Dundee away in a friendly next Wednesday, Forfar away in the League Cup on August 3, and Newcastle at home in a final friendly on August 6.