SHEFFIELD Wednesday manager Dave Jones said he was satisfied with the club’s four point haul over Easter in their battle to stay up.
A controversial last-minute strike from Sam Baldock cancelled out Jermaine Johnson’s stunning first-half opener and means the Owls are fourth-from-bottom with seven Championship matches remaining.
“We are in the driving seat,” he said. “If you had told me we would get four points from the two games over Easter, I would have taken it but I am just more annoyed that we didn’t have maximum points.
“We need as many points as we can get. Everybody is winning around us. We have got another tough one against one of the sides near the bottom next week and we have to keep going.”
Jones reshuffled his pack, leaving out midfield duo Stuart Holden and Seyi Olofinjana altogether and surprisingly handed a debut to Steve Howard. Gary Madine, who ended his 13-match goal drought in the victory over Barnsley, dropped to the bench along with Leroy Lita while David Prutton, Giles Coke and Jermaine Johnson all returned to midfield. With Lewis Buxton serving a one-match ban, Kieran Lee deputised at right-back.
The hosts, seeking a sixth win in seven home matches under Sean O’Driscoll, did not look like a side propping up the Championship table. A fine crossfield pass from Marvin Elliott in the sixth minute released Sam Baldock on the right and it took a superb header from Miguel Llera to prevent his dangerous delivery reaching Steven Davies.
Wednesday, deploying a 4-5-1 formation, struggled to retain possession early on and were indebted to Chris Kirkland when he palmed away Lewin Nyatanga’s fierce left-foot drive after a defensive mistake from Danny Pugh.
The visitors had another let off when Reda Johnson expertly slid in to cut out Davies’ low centre, with Baldock lurking. From the loose ball, Davies unleashed a stinging right foot shot which Kirkland brilliantly blocked.
The Owls lacked rhythm and cohesion in the final third. Jermaine Johnson, one of just two survivors from the side who triumphed at the Robins just over two years ago in the FA Cup, waltzed past three to four defenders but, off balance, blazed over.
Wednesday survived another scare as Davies narrowly failed to connect with Liam Kelly’s pin-point centre.
On the counter attack, the Owls always carried a threat through the lively Jermaine Johnson. The unpredictable winger jinked his way past Elliott before dragging his effort off target when well-placed.
Jermaine Johnson soon made amends as he latched on to Howard’s flick on, robbing Liam Fontaine, who dithered, of possession, before coolly rounding Tom Heaton and tapping into an unguarded net. It was a complete gift and JJ could not believe his luck.
On the stroke of half-time, the Robins almost equalised following good play from Baldock on the left. He outpaced Llera and flashed a ball across goal but the onrushing Davies, sliding at full stretch, was unable to apply the touch.
Wednesday improved as an attacking force, with Llera curling a free kick agonisingly over.
Jermaine Johnson continued to terrorise City’s back four after the interval. After being freed by Prutton, he tricked his way beyond three defenders before seeing his cross-come-shot from an acute angle go wide. It proved to be the Jamaican international’s last major contribution, as he picked up a knock, prompting Jones to throw on Leroy Lita. The striker, who began his career at Bristol City and was booed by the home fans, nearly made an instant impact when he raced onto another lapse in concentration from the Robins but Lita drilled his shot into the side-netting.
With 17 minutes remaining when City had a penalty appeal turned down. Cunningham appeared to knock the ball past Lee and be brought down in the penalty area. But Cunningham was judged to have dived by the referee and was yellow carded. Chris Kirkland was also cautioned after complaining too vigorously over Cunningham’s ‘simulation’.
Wednesday, well organised and difficult to break down, restricted the Robins to few clear cut opportunities. Davies got short shrift out of Llera and Gardner, who oozed class at the heart of Wednesday’s rearguard. Davies did have a rare opportunity in the air to equalise in the 82nd minute after cleverly drifting in between Llera and Gardner but he headed over Neil Kilkenny’s inviting delivery.
Moments later, Albert Adomah, on his 250th appearance in senior football, volleyed over from close range.
In added on time, an inch perfect challenge from Gardner prevented Nyatanga from pulling the trigger but City continued to pile on the pressure and after Kirkland fumbled a cross following an aerial collision with Elliott, Baldock made no mistake.
Jones said: “The players are fuming. They are livid with the referee. Everybody in the ground knows it is a foul.
“The lad took out the goalkeeper. You could do that 10 years ago but not now.
“Everybody did their jobs. I expect the referee in the middle to do his and he didn’t.”
Bristol City: Heaton; Moloney, Nyatanga, Fontaine, Cunningham; Kelly (Kilkenny 67), Skuse (Anderson 83), Elliott, Pearson (Adomah 67); Baldock, Davies. Substitutes: Gerken, Carey, Howard, Bates.
Wednesday: Kirkland; Lee, Gardner, Llera, R Johnson; Pugh, Prutton, Coke (Semedo 77); J Johnson (Lita 52), Helan, Howard (Madine 63). Substitutes: Bywater, Taylor, Maguire, Mattock.
Bookings: Coke, Davies, Cunningham, Kirkland.