Shot-shy Sheffield Wednesday failed to muster a single shot on target in 93 minutes, and Bristol City – fourth in the table and flying high – were little better.
Former Barnsley manager Lee Johnson’s side came with a game plan to stifle the Owls in midfield, and they did just that.
It nullified Wednesday’s passing movement in a pedestrian-paced midfield, and with little natural width, the hosts never looked like making it three successive wins.
The fact that an unsuccessful penalty appeal, when Scottish midfielder Barry Bannan tumbled in the box, was the big talking point afterwards illustrated how little entertainment had gone before.
It came in the second half as Bannan played a neat one-two with Adam Reach, receiving the ball as he raced beyond last man Joe Bryan.
But the visiting defender collided with Bannan, only for referee Tony Harrington to wave away the vociferous calls for a penalty.
Wednesday also saw decent penalty claims dismissed in the first half when Jordan Rhodes was dragged down by Nathan Baker inside the box.
They are the latest in a run of seemingly blatant penalties – including the foul on Steven Fletcher when clean through at Derby County last month – that Wednesday have seen rejected this season.
In fact, conspiracy theories abound around S6 as the Owls have not been awarded a single spot-kick this season.
“We have played 17 games now and not had one penalty kick,” said Carvalhal. “These small things make a big difference. I have seen the video and in my opinion it is a penalty. There is no reason for Bannan to go down when he is in front of the goal about to shoot.
“This was the same situation with Steven Fletcher at Derby, there is no reason to go down.”
Owls midfielder Ross Wallace, in the dugout when the incident happened after being sacrificed for a third striker in Lucas Joao, agreed with his boss.
“I thought it was a penalty,” he said. “I spoke to Barry, and he went for the ball and the guy he came in from the side. From where I was sitting it was a penalty.
“You have to know your players. Barry wants to score goals, he wouldn’t want to go down.”
This said, the Owls did not deserve to win.
Wallace had two long-range efforts go wide, and Rhodes – looking to score for the third successive game – failed to find the target with two headers, which represented Wednesday’s best chances of the day.
The first came after Bannan picked out Gary Hooper at the far post, who headed back across goal, only for Rhodes to get under the ball and see it sail over the crossbar.
Then, after the break, he diverted another header beyond Frank Fielding’s left-hand post, from a Jacob Butterfield corner.
Bristol City had the better chances, defender Aden Flint – linked with a £6m move to Wednesday in the summer – twice went close.
Substitute Milan Djric, though, had the game’s golden opportunity. He raced clear of the Owls’ defence, but goalkeeper Keiren Westwood sped off his line to rescue his team-mates.
It was easy to see why the Robins have the best away record in the Championship this season, losing just once in nine outings. They are well-disciplined, and this game brought back memories of last season’s Hillsborough play-off match against Huddersfield Town. Carvalhal’s side, who lack pace in attack, struggle to break down stubborn opponents, and frustrate and delight in equal measure.
“They had a game plan to come and press us in the middle of the park and made it hard for us to get the game started,” said Wallace.
“We take a point, it wasn’t the best performance, but it’s a clean sheet. I don’t think we created much inside the box, but in general I thought we were all right.
“We got a bit edgy, the fans were getting a bit edgy, which is unlike us.”
The final whistle was greeted with boos and jeers from those who had opted to stay to the bitter end. It seemed more out of frustration than displeasure, but the Owls now face back-to-back away trips to Ipswich Town on Wednesday night, followed 72 hours later with a game at Reading.
“It was just one of those games,” said Wallace. “We go away from home now, and if the game opens up I think we can cause teams lots of problems. I don’t think Bristol City opened up much.
“It’s concerning that we didn’t have a shot on target, but we have got players that can score. I can understand the boos, we weren’t creating much, but you have to understand Bristol City came with a game plan. It wasn’t one for the fans to watch.
“Bristol are flying, full of confidence, and well organised on the pitch. I think they could be up there at the end of the season.
“Maybe playing away now will suit us. Like at Villa, we were good on the counter-attack.”
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood, Hunt, Lees, Loovens, Fox, Reach, Bannan, Butterfield (Lee 69), Wallace (Joao 60), Hooper (Fletcher 83), Rhodes. Unused substitutes: Wildsmith, Jones, van Aken, Palmer.
Bristol City: Fielding, Bryan (Paterson 73), Flint, Baker, Smith, Brownhill, Taylor (Djuric 67), O’Dowda, Reid, Pack, Magnusson. Unused substitutes: Steele, Woodrow, Eliasson, Vyner, Leko.
Referee: T Harrington (Cleveland).