The boo-boys were out in force at Oakwell.
Large sections of the Barnsley faithful jeered Sam Winnall every time he touched the ball in Saturday’s entertaining South Yorkshire derby. One Reds fan briefly disrupted the lunchtime kick-off after throwing a Peppa Pig cuddly toy in the striker’s direction early on.
But Winnall, who controversially left Barnsley for Wednesday in a £500,000 deal in January, fed off the abuse he received from the terraces and almost enjoyed a perfect return to Oakwell.
After an uneventful first half, Winnall capitalised on a goalkeeping howler by former Owls youngster Adam Davies to put the visitors ahead in the 50th minute.
“I was over the moon for Sam,” said Owls teammate Adam Reach. “When you make a change of clubs and you come back to play them, you are classed as the villain.
“But Sam moved on for football reasons. He wanted a bigger challenge and he’s certainly got that now.”
But centre-back Angus MacDonald, fresh from extending his Reds contract, netted deep into added on time to deny Wednesday a much-needed win in their promotion push.
Indeed, Carlos Carvalhal’s side were indebted to Keiren Westwood and Morgan Fox for not leaving empty-handed after MacDonald’s late header. Westwood produced a stunning save to claw away substitute George Moncur’s low strike before Fox brilliantly headed off the line from Adam Hammill.
Reach said: “It’s very frustrating. We thought we did enough to win the game but without Foxy at that far post we could have actually lost it.
“We’ll learn lessons from it. They’re the kind of games where you need to get that second goal. So we’ll take the positives, but at this stage of the season it’s all about wins and we should have got one today.”
Barnsley, managed by Paul Heckingbottom, a member of the Owls’ 2005 promotion-winning team, had the better of a first half packed full of industry but short on goal-scoring opportunities.
Tom Bradshaw dragged wide and Tom Lees nodded clear MacDonald’s flicked header from near the goalline.
In reply, Wednesday twice went close through Callum McManaman, who made only his second start since arriving on loan from West Bromwich Albion.
Both sides were forced to make changes due to injuries, with Sam Hutchinson and Andy Yiadom withdrawn because of calf and shoulder problems respectively.
The contest required a spark and Winnall, the public enemy No 1, profited after a Davies error. The shot-stopper, on his 100th Barnsley appearance, tried to shepherd the ball out of play for a goal-kick but was dispossessed by Reach, who squared it to Winnall and he calmly tapped into an empty net. Winnall celebrated wildly and ran straight towards Barnsley’s supporters. Barnsley 0 Piggy 1.
Reach said: “When that ball was running away from the keeper, I wasn’t going to give it up because I knew Sam would be lurking there. I’m really pleased for him.
“Sam kept his head in a hostile game. He kept composed and did well. Hopefully he can keep scoring goals.”
Winnall and Wednesday fell short of bringing home all the bacon, with MacDonald capitalising on the visitors poor zonal marking from a Hammill free-kick to send the home fans into raptures.
MacDonald, who scored an own goal in the reverse fixture, said: “It is one of the best moments of my career so far. It’s up there. It was a great ball in and I was in the right place at the right time and guided it in.
“All the lads were bang at it and it would have been disappointing to lose. I am glad we got a point.
“I couldn’t breathe after the celebration and we could smell blood and we tried to take that. But this result is one for the fans and we will try and enjoy it.”
Both teams slipped places following the draw and are out of form heading into the final stretch. A top-half finish would represent a superb first year back in the second tier for Barnsley. As for the Owls, anything less a play-off spot would be seen as a major disappointment.