Sheffield Wednesday 0 MK Dons 0: Owls draw blank but still edge closer to play-offs

IF SATURDAY was frustrating for Sheffield Wednesday, then last night took that feeling to a whole new level.

GONE: Sheffield Wednesday's Ross Wallace is sent off in Tuesday night's 0-0 draw with MK Dons. Picture: Steve Ellis.

At the weekend, it was Ipswich custodian Bartosz Bialkowski who repelled most things that the Owls aimed in his direction in a 1-1 draw.

Three days on, the performance of Milton Keynes Dons goalkeeper Charlie Burns was not the major source of ruefulness, more that the hosts hit the woodwork on four occasions – with the performance of referee Darren Handley compounding their ire.

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Handley controversially dismissed Ross Wallace seven minutes from time following an off-the-ball incident shortly after Fernando Forestieri was harshly booked for simulation.

The Lancashire official subsequently received a welter of boos at the final whistle.

At least, developments in the capital applied some balm with seventh-placed Cardiff City losing 2-1 at Brentford to enable the Owls to move six points clear of the Welshmen with just three matches to go – their play-off place looking fairly secure.

That was the good news on an evening when Wednesday, so strong at home this term, fluffed their lines in a limp first half, only to up the ante considerably following the interval introduction of Atdhe Nuhiu.

The lumbering forward took the Wednesday fight, belatedly, to the relegation-haunted visitors.

But try as they might, the hosts could not muster just the one goal needed to down Karl Robinson’s side.

Thrills and spills abounded in a second half in which the Owls displayed the “exciting, aggressive, entertaining football” that persuaded Dejphon Chansiri to extend Carlos Carvalhal’s contract.

But somehow the ball just would not go in during the 50th match in charge for the Portuguese as the Owls suffered more angst against a side toiling at the wrong end of the table and destined for League One.

The main talking point ahead of kick-off centred on the involvement of Burns, drafted in for his first full start for the visitors due to a goalkeeping crisis, with two senior alternatives unavailable.

It was hardly a night for a rookie. But, in the event, the 20-year-old, making only his second appearance for the club, had little to do in the opening 45 minutes.

Wednesday looked laboured and their most dangerous moment was a touch freakish and owed little to polish, with a speculative cross from Daniel Pudil hitting the bar just before the interval.

On a night when he could have expected to be busy, Burns was seriously tested just once just in the first period when he grasped Wallace’s low shot just before the half hour.

Pudil dragged a volley wide and Barry Bannan ballooned over when well placed, but aside from that, there was nothing of note from Wednesday, who produced a stodgy, slow-paced half which gave the Hillsborough faithful little to feed off.

MK Dons, busy and comfortable in possession, were entitled to be the more satisfied of the two sides, with their best moment coming when ex-Owls loanee Jordan Spence surged through down the Owls right and saw his low shot from an acute angle blocked by Keiren Westwood.

Clearly having seen enough by the interval, Carvalhal made a positive change with Nuhiu coming on for Alex Lopez, with an offensive change by the visitors seeing Josh Murphy come on.

The Owls finally got on message and showed much more urgency and conviction after the restart, with Pudil’s cross diverted unconvincingly by Burns before Nuhiu headed over.

The exasperation of the big striker was soon there for all to see when his header struck the post in the hosts’ next raid and he nodded over again as Wednesday started to pepper Burns’s goal with crosses.

Glenn Loovens then spurned a headed chance before Forestieri, moved to the left, twice went close.

A miraculous block by Joe Walsh denied Nuhiu before a Pudil lob struck the woodwork.

The blue-touch paper was then lit after Forestieri was cautioned and Wallace received his marching orders after lengthy delay with salt rubbed into wounds in stoppage-time when Bannan’s free-kick hit the upright.

Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood; Hunt, Lees, Loovens, Pudil; Wallace, Lee, Lopez (Nuhiu 45), Bannan; Forestieri, Hooper (Joao 89). Unused substitutes: Wildsmith, Palmer, Turner, Matias, McGugan.

MK Dons: Burns; Spence, McFadzean, Walsh, Lewington; Potter; Baker, Williams (Maynard 84), Carruthers (Murphy 45), Bowditch (Powell 66); Revell. Unused substitutes: Long, Kay, Brittain, Emmanuel-Thomas.

Referee: D Handley (Lancashire).