FT: Blackpool 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday - Gray wants McGugan to stay

Owls boss Stuart Gray
Owls boss Stuart Gray
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Lewis McGugan’s third goal in five games secured Sheffield Wednesday a 1-0 victory at the Sky Bet Championship’s bottom side Blackpool.

The Watford loanee struck nine minutes after the break for the Owls who have now won three of their last four league games.

Conversely Blackpool, who are now 17 points off safety with just 10 games to go, are winless in eight and rarely troubled to end that run at Bloomfield Road.

Wednesday boss Stuart Gray would like to keep loanee McGugan.

“He is a good player and we like to keep good players but the problem is he is on loan from Watford and he is still Watford’s player,” said Gray.

“You can see Lewis McGugan has got great quality. And he showed the sort of quality he has with the free-kick.

“It’s our 18th clean sheet of the season and we deserve credit for that. Obviously credit has to go to the goalkeeper and the back four but we defend from the front and you needed to do that on a pitch like this.

“It was very hard to play any kind of decent football on this pitch, it just wasn’t conducive to knocking the ball around.

“But to be fair we can’t use that as an excuse as our pitch isn’t that good either.

“We stuck to our task and kept working away and eventually we got the reward our efforts deserved.”

McGugan had the first shot in anger in the fifth minute but he blazed over the bar from just outside the box after the ball bobbled on Blackpool’s horrendous pitch.

Giant Wednesday striker Atdhe Nuhiu then missed a free header at the back post in the 24th minute after substitute Marnick Vermijl, who replaced the injured Sam Hutchinson early on, appeared to get in the Austrian’s way from an inviting McGugan cross.

The Owls continued to push for the opener and Chris Maguire’s right-footed drive forced home goalkeeper Elliot Parish into a low save at his near post in the 26th minute.

On 34 minutes, Blackpool midfielder Jamie O’Hara curled a free-kick from 30 yards narrowly wide of the top corner - much to the relief of Owls keeper Keiren Westwood who was scrambling across his goal.

But the visitors continued to torment Blackpool and, after riding several challenges in the centre of the field, Maguire forced Parish into another low save in the 37th minute.

In the final act of the first half, Owls loanee Will Keane could only blaze over after swivelling and shooting inside the area as the sides went in all-square.

Nathan Delfouneso embarked on a breakaway run for the hosts in the 49th minute, sliding the ball to O’Hara who got away from Liam Palmer but shot straight at Westwood.

McGugan deservedly gave Wednesday the lead on 54 minutes when his curling free-kick from the left touchline evaded everyone inside the penalty area and nestled in the far corner of Parish’s net.

Owls skipper Tom Lees nearly doubled his side’s lead in the 64th minute but his half volley was held by Parish at the backpost, after Nuhiu had knocked down Maguire’s floated cross-field ball from the left.

Miles Addison registered a rare Blackpool attempt on goal in the 67th minute but headed straight at Westwood after Tom Barkhuizen’s long throw from the right was only partially cleared.

Dom Telford then saw his deflected shot from just inside the box loop over the bar in the 79th minute after a punt up-field was not cleared properly by the Wednesday defence.

But the visitors held out to consolidate their own position in mid-table and send Blackpool even closer to relegation to League One.