Big Match Analysis: How Sheffield Wednesday failed to launch party celebrations

AFTER the sheer relief of Saturday's last-gasp draw at Preston North End, Sheffield Wednesday were minded to acknowledge more fortune just 48 hours on.

Wednesday's Vincent Sasso tries an overhead kick to break the deadlock.

For the second successive match, the Owls produced an underwhelming and jaded performance, with the start to their 150th anniversary year in front of their biggest Championship home attendance of the season thus far of 30,549 being non-vintage.

At least, in the final analysis, Carlos Carvalhal’s side were able to reflect on at least taking something from a largely forgettable afternoon. Some draws are better than others and this one was definitely a point gained.

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After totally dominating Wolves in a 2-0 victory in the reverse fixture at Molineux on November 26, Wednesday found the Midlanders a wholly different proposition yesterday.

Seeking a fourth successive Championship win at Hillsborough for the first time in almost a year, the hosts’ could not find a way to get over the line as they previously had done against Preston, Barnsley and Rotherham United.

For the visitors, their sense of frustration was rather more manifest. No Wolves’ central striker has scored since August 20, although quite how Joe Mason failed to find the net was an unfathomable mystery.

Quite how Wolves were not awarded a 40th-minute penalty was also somewhat inexplicable when Matt Doherty went down under the challenge of Kieren Westwood. Visiting manager Paul Lambert said that the challenge belonged ‘at Murrayfield’ and you understood the drift of the Scot.

Carvalhal also felt that Wednesday were unfortunate not to be awarded a second-half spot-kick for a handball against Richard Stearman.

Although he would have perhaps been rather more relieved at his side somehow not conceding at the other end.

The glass-is-half-empty argument may point to a second successive draw, but conversely, a run of just one defeat in nine matches at least indicates the right sort of consistency and sense of durability. It is all a question of interpretation.

Ahead of the game and mindful of the fixture schedule, head coach Carvalhal had alluded to the dangers of players becoming mentally and physically fatigued – being ‘over the red line’ as he called it – and on the evidence of yesterday’s events, you knew where he was coming from.

That said, it did not stop Wolves making light of their own quick turnaround to produce a vibrant performance, with Wednesday still awaiting their first double against them since way back in 1932-33.

Events at the start did yield some promise, but it proved illusionary with Wolves growing into the game and finishing the half strongly, with the interval seemingly coming at an opportune moment for the Owls – who handed a debut to new signing Callum McManaman.

Even with talismanic forward Fernando Forestieri back in harness, Wednesday struggled in the invention department, with the closest that they came to scoring arriving just eight minutes in.

A towering header from Vincent Sasso – making his first Championship start of the season in place of rested captain Glenn Loovens – was tipped away spectacularly by Carl Ikeme.

The Wolves custodian also made a key redeeming save to deny Forestieri after initially spilling a shot from ex-Wanderers striker Steven Fletcher.

Taking the initiative in the run-up to the break, Wolves were apoplectic with rage when referee SImon Hooper failed to point to the spot after Westwood clearly impeded Doherty after failing to deal with a high centre.

Matters were compounded when Mason somehow fired over from just a few yards out after Jon Dadi Bodvarsson saw his close-range effort hit the bar.

After an indifferent first half, hopes would have have been high that the Owls could provide a telling second-half riposte, attacking their massed ranks in the Kop.

But it failed to suitably inspire the toiling Owls, with Wolves going close moments into the second half when the luckless Mason saw his shot strike the post with Westwood beaten, with Jack Price blazing just over soon after.

The pressure continued and Adam Reach was forced to make a key goalline block to deny Doherty after Bodvarsson’s centre.

A Forestieri curler which drifted wide at the other end represented a rare moment of threat from Wednesday.

Mason’s tough afternoon continued when he was sent clear by Conor Coady, but Westwood got his angles right to block his low shot, while at the other end, Ikeme held Forestieri’s low shot.

Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood; Hunt, Lees, Sasso, Reach; McManaman (Joao 53), Lee (R Wallace 45), Hutchinson, Bannan; Fletcher (Jones 76), Forestieri. Unused substitutes: Wildsmith, Palmer, Pudil, Nuhiu.

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Ikeme; Coady, Baath, Stearman, Doherty; Edwards, Price; Costa (Cavaleiro 61), Mason, Ronan (Dicko 68); Bodvarsson. Unused substitutes: Burgoyne, Iorfa, Hause, Saville, Enobakhare.

Referee: S Hooper (Wiltshire).