MATCH REPORT: Bolton 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1
WEDNESDAY made it three wins on the trot by scoring their first ever victory in the Reebok Stadium home of the Trotters as Mamady Sidibe got his career fully up and running yesterday.
The centre-forward who had been without a senior appearance in more than two years until his loan move from Stoke grabbed his first goal since February 2010 and kept the Owls revival going strong.
His superb 25th-minute header separated the teams but Wednesday richly deserved the points for another display brimming with effort, spirit and organisation.
Chris Kirkland made a great second-half save to earn a third successive clean sheet but Dave Jones’ men had enough chances to have won by a bigger margin .
As in Saturday’s game against Charlton, Reda Johnson lived dangerously in the first few minutes. The ref ignored a third-minute penalty appeal for a debatable challenge on David Ngog just inside the box.
Ngog made the first chance of the match, for himself, 11 minutes later, running at Miguel Llera down the inside-left channel and testing Chris Kirkland with a low drive: the keeper went down to his left to make a good save.
Rain and a slippery surface may have contributed to some errors of judgement by both teams in the early stages, but Wednesday kept it simple around their box and defended well, without coming under concerted pressure, and looked to Michail Antonio’s pace to cause Bolton problems down the middle.
It was from the Owls’ first threatening attack of the match when they scored in the 25th minute.
Lewis Buxton delivered a fine cross to the near post from the right and Sidibe dived forward on the edge of the six-yard box to bullet a terrific header into Adam Bogdan’s top left-hand corner.
That caused an eruption at the opposite end where around 3,000 away fans had been giving their team great backing.
It continued to be a contest of few frills, which was of little concern to Wedenesday or their supporters as the lead was protected, with the home side kept largely at arm’s length and the visitors never slow to look for a second goal.
The Owls were solid in midfield and at the back and, as in the latter stages of the Charlton game, had Kieran Lee offering protection in front of right-back Buxton, which quelled the threat of Martin Petrov.
The presence of Jeremy Helan once again in front of Johnson contributed towards Chris Eagles failing to make the same sort of impact that he had in the Trotters’ 2-1 win at Hillsborough in September.
Wednesday had chances to increase their lead in the 37th and 42nd minutes.
Llera had a free header in the middle from a right-side corner by Rhys McCabe and glanced it wide; Lee made space for a shot from 14 yards and drilled it at Bogdan.
There was a bit of scare in stoppage time when a foul for which Johnson was booked gave Petrov a free-kick which he whipped in with his left left but Kirkland beat the ball away; the danger was past, and the home side were booed off by some of their fans at half-time.
Early in the second half, however, the home crowd were roused by a near-miss. A right-side cross from Benik Afobe found strike partner Ngog free in front of goal. Fortunately for Wednesday the ball was at at awkward height, Ngog tried to chest it into the net and succeeded only in glancing it across goal.
That just after Anthony Gardner narrowly failed to scramble the ball into the net at the far post as the home side failed to clear a McCabe corner.
From another McCabe corner, Antonio was inches away from getting a touch with his head, around six yards out.
Then it was Helan’s turn to loft the ball into the box, and Johnson, under pressure, could only head wide.
Wednesday were always a threat from set-pieces and balls into the box yet were in danger themselves as the home team created a golden chance in the 71st minute. Eagles crossed from the left, Afobe powered in a low, free header from close range and Kirkland made an excellent stop.
Both sides made substitutions, the Owls opting for fresh legs in Chris O’Grady up front and Joe Mattock at left back.
Heading into the closing minutes there was no signing of the Owls yielding.
They kept their shape and discipline and again stopping Bolton from building effective pressure.
Jones went ahead with his policy of rotating the squad during a busy period by bringing in Sidibe and Lee and moving Gary Madine and Chris O’Grady to the bench.That meant a new strike force of Antonio, who had a spell up front in the second half against Charlton, and Sidibe.
Bolton were without the suspended Kevin Davies.
BOLTON: Bogdan 7, Mears 7, Knight 7, Ream 6, Ricketts 6 Alonso 73), Eagles 6 (Sordell 73), Andrews 7, Spearing 7, Petrov 6 (Lee 66, 6), Ngog 7, Afobe 6. Unused subs: Lonergan, Butterfield, Pratley, Riley.
OWLS: Kirkland 8, Buxton 7, Llera 8, Gardner 7, R Johnson 7 (Mattock 76), Lee 7, Prutton 7, McCabe 7, Helan 7, Antonio 7 (J Johnson 90+3), Sidibe 7 (O’Grady 76). Unused subs: Bywater, Taylor, Lines, Madine.
Bookings: R Johnson.
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Weather for Sheffield
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: North