Burnley 3 Sheffield Wednesday 3: Antonio rescues Owls who avoid an unwanted record

‘STOPTOBER’ is a worthy campaign running this month that is designed to help smokers give up the fags for 28 days en route to kicking the habit for good.

For Sheffield Wednesday, however, their first outing of October last night was all about kicking the damaging habit of losing that had become the norm during a September that saw Dave Jones’s side slide to six straight defeats.

In that respect, the Owls can look back on the trip to Burnley with a sense of satisfaction after a spectacular late strike from Michail Antonio rescued a fully deserved point from a thrilling contest that kept the 12,122 crowd engrossed to the very end.

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That Wednesday had to stub out their losing run by coming from behind three times against a side boasting the country’s deadliest marksman Charlie Austin – who, true to form, netted a hat-trick to take his tally for the season to a phenomenal 14 – merely served to underline the strength of character running through the Owls.

The point means Wednesday now won’t emulate the class of 2000-01 who suffered eight straight league defeats, albeit in a run that was broken up by a couple of resounding League Cup victories over Oldham Athletic.

Antonio’s late equaliser together with Chris O’Grady’s double meant honours ended even in one of the half-dozen Yorkshire v Lancashire clashes taking place last night.

As is to be expected in any ‘War of the Roses’ tussle, the opening exchanges made it clear that both teams fancied striking a blow on behalf of their respective counties as play raged from one end to the other.

Inside the first five minutes, both sides managed two efforts on goal apiece as Burnley also had a penalty appeal rightly turned down by referee David Coote after Jay Bothroyd had denied Junior Stanislas with a wonderful last-ditch tackle.

Such an eventful start set the tone for the night as Antonio and Martin Paterson then narrowly missed with fierce drives before the Clarets took the lead on 22 minutes courtesy of a close-range header from Austin.

Wednesday were deceived by the quality of the right-wing cross from Keiran Trippier that found Austin in sufficient space to capitalise but, credit to Jones’s men, they were back level within 75 seconds.

Once again, impressive delivery from out wide – this time by Antonio – did the trick as O’Grady ghosted past a couple of defenders to head deftly past Lee Grant.

It was the perfect response to falling behind and the Owls’ night could have got even better before the break with Ross Barkley twice being denied in quick succession by Grant.

First, the former Wednesday goalkeeper turned a 20-yard drive round the post and then, as Barkley latched on to a Nejic Pecnik through ball, he forced the Everton loanee so wide that his subsequent shot hit the side-netting.

Antonio also took an unnecessary tumble just after the half-hour when, had the powerful wideman stayed on his feet as the Owls broke at pace, he could have provided either O’Grady or Barkley with a clear run on goal.

Wasting such an excellent opportunity soon came back to haunt the visitors with Burnley regaining the lead seven minutes before the interval.

As with the home side’s opener, a fine cross from Trippier deceived the Owls defence as makeshift right-back Jermaine Johnson jumped a fraction too early and Austin swooped to capitalise with another close-range header.

Considering the energy levels that had been needed to sustain such a frantic pace in the opening 45 minutes, the second half wasn’t quite as hectic.

Wednesday did, though, level on 63 minutes when O’Grady scored after latching on to a through ball from Bothroyd.

Both sides had excellent chances to go in front.

First, Austin was denied by the legs of Kirkland after ghosting past Anthony Gardner and then Antonio miscued what should have been a tap-in from two yards out to allow Grant to claw the ball to safety.

Austin then looked to have snatched all three points for the home side with a stunning finish after stepping inside a challenge from Martin Taylor.

With just six minutes remaining, Wednesday’s losing run seemed set to be extended. Antonio, though, had other ideas as, just two minutes later, he collected a pass from Gary Madine before firing an unstoppable 30-yard shot that gave Grant no chance in the home goal.

Barkley and Bothroyd then had chances to seal all three points for the Owls but couldn’t capitalise to ensure honours deservedly ended even between these two old White and Red rose rivals.

Burnley: Grant; Trippier, Mee, Edgar, Duff (Long 88); Wallace, Stock, Marney, Stanislas (Vokes 90); Austin, Paterson (Stewart 71). Unused substitutes: Jensen, O’Neill, Mills, Bartley.

Sheffield Wednesday: Kirkland, J Johnson, Taylor, Gardner, Mattock; Pecnik (McCabe 46), Semedo, Barkley; Bothroyd, Antonio; O’Grady (Madine 83). Unused substitutes: Bywater, Rodri, Mayor, Jones, Llera.

Referee: D Coote (Nottinghamshire).