A draw against one of the teams tipped to gain promotion from the Championship this season, may on the face of it, not seem like a bad result...and it isn’t.
However, Sheffield Wednesday fans leaving Hillsborough will have felt a slight pang of disappointment that they weren’t celebrating the capture of all three points after dominating much of their clash with highly-rated Derby County.
Wednesday nullified the threat of the Rams three-pronged attack of Chris Martin, Jamie Ward and Simon Dawkins, while wonderkid Will Hughes was virtually anonymous before finally being substituted just before the hour mark.
Stuart Gray gave a debut to new signing Stevie May and the young Scot impressed up front. He was bustling, a constant threat and County at times struggled to deal with his movement.
While he had few chances to score, May certainly didn’t look out of his depth at this level and could become a Hillsborough hero if he continues in this vein.
May was one of four changes to the line up from the team that beat Notts County in the Capital One Cup in midweek.
Keiren Westwood, Sam Hutchinson, Kieran Lee and May came into the side while out went Chris Kirkland, last week’s goalscorer against Brighton Giles Coke, Jose Semedo and Gary Madine.
Derby had the first shot in goal in a scrappy opening few minutes, as both sides attempted to get a foothold on the game.
Jeff Hendrick was way off for the Rams after a little over a minute with his shot from distance, then on six minutes Simon Dawkins tried his luck from the edge of the box but Owls keeper Westwood was equal to it, saving from the centre of the goal.
Wednesday then began to gain the upper hand with May showing signs of the bustling frontman that Owls fans were hoping to see.
On seven minutes he was found by Joe Mattock on the edge of the six yard box but was thwarted by bearded Rams defender Jake Buxton.
However the ball broke to Kieran Lee whose shot was deflected by May towards goal, but Lee Grant saved down low to his left.
Derby had the next opportunity as a corner from their right went too deep but was headed back into the path of Hendrick who sliced his shot wide.
The game flowed from end to end, with both defences looking a little open and on 18 minutes Wednesday fans thought their side had taken the lead when Atdhe Nuhiu took a pass well into space on the left from Jacques Maghoma. His cross was deflected back to the left winger who had continued his run and shot, but into the top corner of the side netting.
Then again just seconds later at the other end Chris Martin raced through but he too hit the side netting.
Nuhiu’s weak effort caused little worry for Grant on 19 minutes, however a minute later the keeper was grounded and breathinga sigh of relief.
After Nuhiu was brought down 22 yards from goal, Chris Maguire’s thunderous free kick hit the underside of the crossbar and was cleared by the Derby defence.
Wednesday continued to press and on 31 minutes May came close again as his run down the right was followed up by a shot across goal, which, from 12 yards at a tight angle went wide.
On 33 minutes the Hillsborough crowd applauded in unison to remember baby Hannah Rose, who died when she was only 33 days old.
While Derby looked dangerous on the break, it was the home side who looked most likely to break the deadlock and on 34 minutes Tom Lees had a header cleared off the line.
Stuart Gray was forced into a substitution after 40 minutes when Kieran Lee came off injured, and was replaced by Coke.
In first half injury time, May’s awkward overhead kick went wide of goal.
The second half was even more open than the first with Derby getting more of the ball in important areas in the early stages.
However, it remained Stuart Gray’s men who looked the biggest attacking threat and on 56 minutes Maguire warmed the hands of keeper Grant with a fierce shot from 22 yards, through a crowd of players, which the Derby stopper, though late, did well to parry.
May, after a quiet period, came into the game more at around the hour mark and on 64 minutes his great touch and cross right across goal just evaded Nuhiu who had been a little slow to react.
Derby, again like the first half, had been soaking up the pressure and pushing forward quickly on the break.
And that tactic almost paid off on 68 minutes when substitute Johnny Russell raced through down the left and his shot looked destined for the bottom corner only for Westwood to tip around the post. To further County’s frustration, referee Scot Duncan to award a goal kick.
On 75 minutes came the clearest chance on goal yet - and it went to the visitors.
Russell again had broken through the Wednesday backline to go one on one with Westwood.
However, the Owls keeper, who hadn’t had a lot to do over the course of the game, stood up well, not giving Russell too many options and the Rams forward shot straight at Westwood.
The Owls defence scrambled away an effort with ten minutes remaining as Derby pushed forward in greater numbers and at that stage it was Wednesday who were hitting on the break.
On 86 minutes Palmer’s superb cross from the right found substitute Gary Madine, who had replaced Nuhui on 70 minutes, but, under pressure, the striker couldn’t find the target with his header.
Maghoma shot from 20 yards in injury time as the home side made a late push but in the end they had to settle for a draw and after what was regarded as a tough start to the season, reaping four points from the first two games is an impressive tally
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood; Palmer, Lees, Loovens, Mattock; Maguire, Lee, Hutchinson, Maghoma, Nuhiu, May. Subs: Kirkland, Semedo, Coke, McCabe, Helan, Zayatte, McCabe.
Derby County: Grant; Christie, Buxton, Keogh, Forsyth; Hendrick, Hughes, Bryson; Martin, Ward, Dawkins. Subs: Roos, Russell, Naylor, Eustace, Whitbread, Best, Mascarell.