Sheffield Wednesday 0 Stoke City 0 - Owls frustrated in Hillsborough stalemate
On a biting, cold afternoon, after a week when the Government announced some supporters will be able to return to football next week, the Owls and Stoke City failed to conjure up a goal between them.
It continued a worrying trend for Wednesday, who have won just once at home all campaign in the Championship.
The Owls – with just one win in their last eight outings - made three changes from the midweek 1-1 draw at Swansea City.
Kadeem Harris was recalled after a three-match ban, while youngster Liam Shaw was handed a start, along with goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith.
Wednesday went into the game having scored just three goals in six Championship games at Hillsborough this term. One of those was a Barry Bannan penalty – to secure their only league win at S6 this season against Bournemouth – and another was an own goal.
But without the injured Jack Marriott and Josh Windass – serving the second of a three-game ban – Wednesday were light in attack.
Callum Paterson was a lone figure in attack, and all either side had to show going forward in the opening 30 minutes was a long-range effort from Harris which ended up wide of the Stoke goal on 16 minutes.
In a game full of effort, but little quality in attack, Harris lit up the afternoon with a fierce long-range strike which was blocked on the line by John Obi Mikel.
How Wednesday boss Pulis must have looked on enviously at the forwards which Stoke – his former club – had at their disposal.
Former Owls striker Steven Fletcher – Wednesday’s top scorer last season, who moved to the Potteries in the summer – was missing injured, so Lee Gregory started.
And when the Sheffield-born striker limped off in the first half, Stoke boss Michael O’Neill introduced Wales international Sam Vokes.
In contrast, Paterson – still to find his best position at Wednesday after arriving in the summer – was feeding on scraps up front, with Jordan Rhodes on the bench.
Pulis brought on Rhodes for Shaw at the start of the second half.
But it was the visitors who came closest to breaking the deadlock.
Joe Wildsmith produced his first save of the afternoon on a bitterly cold day at Hillsborough, diving to his left to palm away Tyrese Campbell’s strike.
The Owls goalkeeper than denied Vokes from close range, before the Stoke striker spurned another chance, failing to make proper contact with a header.
At the other end, Rhodes raced clear, but failed to get in a shot before the Stoke defence recovered.
Record signing Rhodes has struggled to make an impact in his career at Wednesday.
And he didn’t even see out the game, the substitute substituted by midfielder Izzy Brown as Pulis juggled his resources as he searched for a goal.
It was harsh on Rhodes, who like Paterson, had been starved of any decent ball.
Wildsmith made a great save, booting away Vokes’s shot in stoppage time.
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