Kadeem Harris believes Sheffield Wednesday have to swiftly “learn lessons” if they want to earn promotion to the Premier League.
For the third successive away game – a run which has yielded just a solitary point from a possible nine – Garry Monk’s promotion hopefuls were left with a return journey to Sheffield in a frustrated mood.
Tom Eaves’s goal with 18 minutes remaining denied the Owls a point at Hull City last month, before an 87th-minute equaliser – from Lee Tomlin’s controversial free-kick – saw Cardiff City snatch an unlikely 1-1 draw in Wales.
Wednesday thought they had grabbed all three points at Ewood Park on Saturday, after substitute Jacob Murphy nodded in an 83rd-minute opener.
But late goals from Tosin Adarabioyo and John Buckley condemned Garry Monk’s Owls to another frustrating road trip.
“Everyone is very disappointed, including myself,” Harris told The Yorkshire Post.
“We were a few minutes away from winning the game, and ended up losing. We just have to take it on the chin.
“If you want to get promoted you can’t let leads slip like that in the last few minutes, and end up with no points.
“I wouldn’t put it down to anything in particular. Maybe a lack of concentration because I think the boys have done brilliantly.
“We stuck to the gameplan from the first minute and it was all going well until five minutes before the end.
“We have thrown it away, but we have to learn from this and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“It’s important we learn lessons if we want to get promoted. It’s a long season ahead of us.
“I thought everyone was excellent, it’s a difficult place to come.
“It’s a disappointing end to a good performance.”
Those six dropped points in their last three away games would have seen Wednesday top the Championship, and with five minutes remaining at Ewood Park the Owls were set to be just a single point behind leaders Leeds United.
Monk opened up with back-to-back away wins at Huddersfield Town (2-0) and Middlesbrough (4-1), but Harris insists the Owls have just been unlucky with a return of just one point from their subsequent three trips
“It’s not a concern, we have been unlucky,” said the former Cardiff City winger. “We have conceded late goals, I don’t think that’s down to anything apart from luck.
“That will change in the coming games, it’s a long season and, hopefully, we can get more points on the road in future games to come. I am sure we will be right up there.”
If Monk’s gameplan was to keep it tight for the first half, it certainly worked.
In a pedestrian opening 45 minutes, chances were at a premium.
Owls goalkeeper Keiren Westwood produced the first of a string of fine saves, palming over Sam Gallagher’s header.
At the other end, Dominic Iorfa saw his header booted off the line by Tosin Adarabioyo, Harris forced Christian Walton into a good save at his near post, while Steven Fletcher – an isolated figure in attack – was feeding off scraps, twice failing to find the target.
Where the Owls let themselves down was their set-piece delivery at corners. The visitors had nine corners in the first half, 13 in total, but sorely missed midfielder Barry Bannan – out with a groin strain – and Joey Pelupessy struggled with his corner-kick routine.
Having failed to win in their six previous outings, Blackburn were unlucky not to take the lead after the interval.
Lewis Holtby set Gallagher free, whose original shot was blocked by Borner, before Westwood denied Lewis Travis from close-range.
Gallagher then appeared to be tripped by stand-in captain Hutchinson, but referee Andy Woolmer waved away Rovers’ penalty appeals.
Westwood twice rescued the Owls, diving full stretch to deny Adam Armstrong, before tipping Joe Rothwell’s header over the crossbar.
The visitors had their chances too, Harris cutting in only to be frustrated by Walton, before Atdhe Nuhiu – one of three attacking substitutes made by Monk, along with Fernando Forestieri and Murphy, as the Owls chased a goal – headed over.
The changes paid off when Morgan Fox’s deflected cross was flicked on by Fletcher, hit the crossbar, before falling into Murphy’s path for the opening goal on 83 minutes.
That should have seen Wednesday put up the shutters, but two pieces of poor defending allowed the hosts to claim all three points.
Adarabioyo towered above two Owls defenders to send a looping header over Westwood.
Then, in stoppage time, a rare error from German defender Borner conceded possession in his own area, and despite an initial recovery block, substitute John Buckley’s shot took a wicked deflection off Hutchinson to leave Westwood helpless.
To sum up Wednesday’s afternoon, Forestieri nearly snatched an unlikely equaliser, but his deflected shot smashed against the post and Walton saved from Hutchinson’s follow-up.
“We need a bit of luck,” said Harris. “On another day it takes a deflection and goes in, or comes back to Hutch and he buries it.
“It wasn’t meant to be, but we can’t dwell on that, and I am sure we won’t.”