Owls chief closer to brink after Llera’s ‘stupidity’ proves costly

Referee Andre Marriner is confronted by Sheffield Wednesday's Miguel Llera.
Referee Andre Marriner is confronted by Sheffield Wednesday's Miguel Llera.
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Sheffield Wednesday manager Dave Jones hopes a moment of “stupidity” from centre-half Miguel Llera has not nudged him closer to being axed at Hillsborough.

The incident came in stoppage time in Wednesday’s Championship relegation battle with Bristol City on Saturday.

The Owls looked to be cruising at 2-1 to only their third win in 18 league games when Sam Baldock’s penalty and Albert Adomah’s stunning free-kick turned the game on its head.

The Owls poured forward in desperate search of an equaliser and looked to have won a spot-kick of their own when Richard Foster blocked Rodri’s goal-bound effort with an outstretched arm.

Referee Andre Marriner waved away the Owls’ appeals and, while several Wednesday players complained, the ball was crossed back in front of goal and Gary Madine netted.

Amid confusion on the pitch, and all around Hillsborough, Marriner booked Owls defender Llera and then awarded City a free-kick, rather than a penalty or a goal to the hosts.

Marriner accused Llera of pushing him in the melee after the penalty call, something the defender later denied.

“The coaches feel under pressure, the players feel under pressure, but if you lose your job through (Llera’s) stupidity I think that’s a bit harsh,” said Jones.

“If I lose my job because a referee deems it’s not a goal, that’s a bit harsh.

“But that decision will be taken out of my hands anyway, it always has been at every club I have been at. My record is there to be shot at, there won’t be many holes in (it).

“I have seen the referee and the referee says that he pushed him. If Miguel has pushed him, then that’s the stupidity of it.

“Miguel says he didn’t so if he didn’t then the referee has made a decision I have never seen before in football. It was a clear-cut penalty, the guy man-handles it as it’s going in the back of the net, but he (Marriner) says he didn’t see it. The linesman has to see it.

“It was just one of many things that he didn’t see.

“Miguel should have carried on playing – the ball was still alive, he is not going to change his mind and he ran at him.

“I don’t see any movement from the referee, but that’s what happens sometimes when you are down there. Things always seem to go against you and you have to turn that luck around.”

City manager Derek McInnes believes Wednesday were unlucky not to be awarded the late penalty but said Marriner was right to penalise Llera for being “over-aggressive”.

“I think the ref has a decision to make on the hand ball,” he said. “But he gives a free-kick prior to the ball going in the net – my players have said they heard a whistle before the ball went into the net.

“For me, the only thing I have seen is the over-reaction of the centre-back grabbing the referee with both hands; it was over-aggressive.

“You can’t man-handle the referee, he is quite within his rights to give a free-kick, that’s a fact.

“Whether Sheffield Wednesday might have had a penalty before that is another matter, but before the shot came in the referee’s whistle had clearly gone.

“The complaint they should have is whether it was a penalty or not. It could have gone either way.”

Wednesday had taken the lead after just two minutes through Llera’s header but the centre-half then felled Baldock, who picked himself up to convert the first of two penalties for the visitors.

Madine netted his third goal of the season on 79 minutes, only for the striker to needlessly handle inside his own area to gift City a second equaliser.

When Adomah blasted home a 20-yard free kick with two minutes remaining, Wednesday were on their way to a seventh successive defeat in the Championship, which leaves them next to bottom ahead of Saturday’s derby at Barnsley, who are also in the drop zone, just three points clear of the Owls but encouraged by a 2-2 draw at promotion-chasers Leicester City.

Middlesbrough, in third place, are Yorkshire’s top Championship club after a 3-2 win at bottom club Peterborough. Hull City are level with the Boro on 38 points after a 2-1 victory at Watford.

Leeds United failed to make it four wins in a row when they lost 3-1 at Derby County, while Huddersfield Town joined Neil Warnock’s men on 29 points after a thrilling 2-2 home draw against Bolton Wanderers.

Doncaster Rovers and Sheffield United occupy second and third place, respectively, in League One, and Bradford are up to fourth in League Two, a point clear of Rotherham. York City are six points adrift of the play-off spots after defeat at Plymouth.

Reports: Pages 2-4.