Sheffield Wednesday 0 Carlisle 1: Curran shock for Owls

SHEFFIELD Wednesday supporters chanted 'sack the board' at the end of a week to forget at Hillsborough

A solitary goal by Carlisle United's Craig Curran – his first for the club – condemned the Owls to a second defeat in a row but it was off-the-field issues which sparked fans' fury rather than the state of the team.

Only an eleventh hour loan in midweek from the club's major creditors, the Co-operative Bank, prevented the Owls slipping into administration.

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With debts in excess of 30m, the League One club may also have to keep on borrowing until major new investors are found.

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett has rubbished newspaper reports that he is planning to join a takeover consortium led by boxing promoter Dennis Hobson.

But Blunkett, a lifelong Wednesday supporter, is understood to be willing to join the board if it would help improve the current situation.

Manager Alan Irvine refused to blame the unrest for his side's dip in form but captain Darren Purse expressed a degree of sympathy for the unhappy supporters.

"The fans have been at this football club for years – some have followed it for 50 or 60 years, seen the good times at the football club – and they don't like what they see at the moment," he said.

"Everyone is jumping the gun and saying this or that is going to happen but, until it happens, let's carry on as we are.

"As footballers, you can't affect what goes on off the field. All we can do is concentrate on matters on the pitch," Purse added.

"The (tax) bill has been paid, Revenue and Customs have stopped their threat, so why should there be a 10-point deduction?

"It's important to win the next two games no matter what is happening off the field. We need to get back to doing things right on the pitch as we were two weeks ago."

The Owls slipped from top spot to sixth in the table after this defeat and, if the club entered administration, would be docked 10 points under Football League rules.

There is now a growing number of Wednesday supporters who actually think administration would be a good idea.

Yes, it may be unethical but plenty of other football clubs including Leeds United and Leicester City have wiped the slate clean that way and moved forward again.

The Owls started the afternoon one point clear of Carlisle at the top of the table and were seeking to bounce back from a first league defeat of the season, against Brentford, six days earlier.

But Carlisle, who had never previously won at Hillsborough, are also likely to be one of the leading contenders in this season's League One promotion race and oozed confidence from the first whistle.

Striker Curran scored the only goal of the game in the 36th minute when turning Lewis Buxton and curling a shot past Nicky Weaver from the edge of the penalty area.

It would not have been flattering to the Cumbrians if their margin of victory had been even greater as they enjoyed more possession than the Owls – and missed more opportunities.

Wednesday had only four shots on target all afternoon and Carlisle goalkeeper Adam Collin was never seriously tested.

Things might have been different if striker Neil Mellor had been available for the Owls but the loan signing from Preston North End was ruled out by tonsilitis and his replacement Clinton Morrison still looked short of match fitness.

Expectations are so high at Hillsborough this season that patience is thin on the ground. Carlisle's goal sparked a chorus of boos from the Kop End and underlined the pressure that Irvine's players are now under.

Chants of "Sack the Board" and "We want our Wednesday back." echoed from the North Stand midway through the second half and there was also a protest outside the ground involving around 50 supporters after the final whistle.

Irvine, who was well backed by the board this summer in the transfer market, said his team had been punished for sloppy play.

"The biggest lesson we have to learn from this game is that the minute you get careless or sloppy you will lose control of games and that will put you on the back foot.

"We started well and looked like we would give them a lot of problems but then we got careless and let them back into the game by some bad decisions on the ball, some bad decisions without possession, and giving away some needless set-pieces.

"Things that happen off the pitch shouldn't have a bearing on what happens on the pitch," he stressed. "I certainly don't want to use that as an excuse."

MATCH FOCUS

Hero: Nicky Weaver

The Owls' goalkeeper kept the scoreline respectable with a series of fine stops at full stretch or coming off his line to block with his legs and restricted visitors Carlisle United to just one goal from Craig Curran.

Villain: Owls' directors

A section of angry supporters vented their fury in the direction of the Wednesday board and some staged a protest after the Hillsborough game.

Key moment

36th minute: Carlisle striker Craig Curran scores the only goal of the game with a shot from the edge of the box.

Ref watch

Chris Sarginson: Top marks. Allowed play to flow and kept things under control as required.

Verdict

A disappointing result for the Owls, overshadowed by events off the field, but Carlisle's quality should not be lost in the fog.

Quote of the day

We want our Wednesday back!

– The chant from dissatisfied Owls supporters during the home defeat to Carlisle United.

Next game

Plymouth Argyle, away; Saturday September 18; League One

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