Sheffield Wednesday: Antonio serves up some success

Dave Jones and Michail Antonio have both been on the ball during the international break.

The Owls manager’s signing on loan of Arsenal’s Damian Martinez has brought a successful end to end his lengthy search for another goalkeeper.

Michail Antonio in action during his table tennis challenge match

Michail Antonio in action during his table tennis challenge match

And Antonio has hitting a different kind of ball in the build-up to Saturday’s game at Bolton.

He took on Sheffield League player Steve Parkinson at Middlewood in a table-tennis challenge match and won, 24-22, 21-19, 21-18.

Antonio said in a recent programme article that he was bored with beating team-mates and needed someone to challenge him - players pick up the bats occasionally as relaxation after training.

Season-ticket holder Steve, aged 66, responded to the challenge,

He used to play for Sheffield and South Yorkshire, is a qualified table tennis coach, and these days plays for Vulcan in the third of six divisions in the Sheffield League.

But he was impressed by Michail: “He would be ok in our division; he’s better than I thought. It could have been a bit different if I had used my own bat, but take nothing away from Michail: he played well.”

Antonio said: “It was a good match. Steve is better than all of our boys. I don’t play a lot these days. I used to play for the school team. When you’ve learned how to use the bat, you don’t forget; it’s like riding a bike.”

The Owls player has offered a rematch - playing next time with bats of the type that Steve normally uses.

The match was a bit of fun amid the serious preparations for the Bolton game, and it was refereed by goalkeeping coach Andy Rhodes.

Rhodes’ “pupils” now included Martinez, whose signing came after Jones had been looking all season for extra goalkeeping depth.

The exit of last season’s No 2, Stephen Bywater, left the club with a young crop of Cameron Dawson and Adam Davies, and injuries to Davies and Arron Jameson contributed to the equation.

All the keepers are now fit but Jones is keen to have as much competition as possible for first choice Chris Kirkland.

Arsenal have publicly wished Martinez well during his Hillsborough spell. Ex-Owls assistant manager Terry Burton is their head development coach.