OWLS MATCH REPORT: Sheffield Wednesday 0 Hull 1

Sheffield Wednesday v Hull City....Owls Miguel Llera claims his header is over the City line
Sheffield Wednesday v Hull City....Owls Miguel Llera claims his header is over the City line

DAVE Jones probably wishes he could change his tune.

But how can he when Wednesday are like a needle stuck in a groove on a record?

They continue to concede goals; they keep seeing decisions go against them; they do not get badly beaten; they play reasonably well, on the whole, but the run without a win goes on and on.

On Saturday it was another close game that could have gone either way, but it was settled by the outcome of three key incidents:

Nineteen minutes: Miguel Llera powered in a header from a Rhys McCabe corner and the ball was cleared. But had it gone over the line?

Fifty-eight minutes: Chris Kirkland launched a clearance, Hull left-back Andy Dawson lost his footing, Michail Antonio was getting away from him, the defender recovered slightly and the two went down in a tangle just inside the box.

It looked a penalty but nothing was given.

Seventy-seven minutes: Hull keeper Ben Amos kicked the ball down the middle, Llera was beaten in the air by an Aaron Mclean flick-on to Sone Aluko, his strike partner; Aluko backheeled the ball through Anthony Gardner’s legs to find Mclean running through and the sub scored less than two minutes after taking the field.

The result was cruel on Wednesday.

They have not picked up only one point from the last 21 because of continual dodgy refereeing decisions, or just because of bad luck, but it is easy to understand if the team and Jones think that not much is going their way, and that there has been only the great fightback at Burnley last week to console them.

BBC TV film could not settle the debate over the Llera header, because of the

camera angle. It confirmed that winger Ahmed Elmohamady was well behind the line - but he extended his foot forward to clear the ball.

Llera was convinced the ball was over, so were Jones and Jay Bothroyd.

The telly’s Football League show did not screen the “penalty” affair, but Jones needed no convincing that the Owls should have benefited from a spot-kick award, as did Southampton after Joe Mattock slipped and brought down an opponent in the Capital One Cup tie at St Mary’s.

“Antonio was through and he was brought down,” said Jones adamantly.

Hull boss Steve Bruce, who thought the better side won, commented: “I don’t know if we got away with one or not. I haven’t seen the replay. It didn’t look like a penalty where I was, but it was the only mistake we made all day.”

He added: “We defended the way you should defend.”

So did Wednesday, for the most part, with Gardner in particular having another solid game, but the goal they let in was scored all too easily from a straightforward long punt.

Jones reflected: “We’re saying the same things week in, week out. We have to stop conceding sloppy, lazy goals.

“One of our players was out of position. He hadn’t been out of position all through the game. That’s the one where you’ll get punished at this level.

“Even so we had two bites of the cherry.

“You can’t switch off. It’s a frustrating time for everybody.”

He pointed out that the club do work at improving their defending. On Saturday he also took the bold step of dropping his captain, Martin Taylor, after the centre-half’s recent form, which is why Llera was in the team.

“Like a lot of players, he [Taylor] has got to be given time,” said Jones.

”When somebody comes in, you want them to be right from the start; some have and some haven’t. He’s one who has struggled a bit. Players wait for an opportunity to come in and do their bit. That’s what you have your squad for.”

One who did come in as an instant success was Rhys McCabe - and he did his stuff again on being recalled to the starting line-up after his thigh injury. “I thought the two kids in midfield were outstanding; they were up against two experienced players as well,” said Jones.

“They didn’t look out of place. They got on the ball and picked out some good passes.”

Indeed the Owls played some attractive stuff at times, with Jay Bothroyd a creative force once again on the right side of midfield, and deserving the ovation he received when he was taken off after having trouble with his breathing.

Lewis Buxton made a welcome return and there were moments of solid defending and forward running from the full-back who had a good battle with the talented Stephen Quinn.

Wednesday threatened and had strikes from Antonio, but found it hard to make clear-cut chances against stubborn defending.

Hull had the better of the early part of the second half, and there were a couple of warnings when Quinn and Aluko drove shots across goal.

When Jermaine Johnson was on instead of Bothroyd, the Owls could not seem to get the ball often enough to the winger, until his two late efforts: a shot that was saved at the near post, and a ball that he curled past the far angle.

Jones knows he is repeating himself but he had to say it: “It was a tight game. We had a lot of possession. We created chances; that wrong decision or lack of quality in front of goal was frustrating for us.

“We had a lot of the ball. We also broke things up. . For the majority of the time we didn’t look exposed.

“You’ve got to take hope from the performances and not the result sometimes.

“It’s not a game we feel we deserved to lose.”

But it was a seventh defeat in the last eight games.