Wednesday punished for sleepy second half display
Sheffield Wednesday’s hopes of avoiding relegation from the Championship were dealt a blow on Tuesday evening when they slipped to a 1-0 defeat away to out-of-form Stoke City.
Having had their weekend fixture against Swansea City postponed due to a frozen pitch at Hillsborough, the Owls travelled to Stoke relatively fresh while their hosts suffered a tough defeat at league leaders Norwich City on Saturday and they went into the game without a league win since mid-December.
In a fairly even first 45 minutes neither side really looked like making a breakthrough. Stoke enjoyed more possession but rarely tested Westwood other than forcing him into a routine save from a scuffed Jacob Brown shot. At the other end Rhodes clipped a Bannan cross over the bar, Shaw saw a header hit the crossbar but the whistle had already gone for a foul anyway and as the half drew to a close Rhodes headed softly into the arms of Gunn.
Stoke began the second half with much more intent, forcing Wednesday back but still struggling to create clear cut chances. Westwood made a smart save from Powell, McClean fired off target and Fletcher saw a shot on target blocked by Lees.
The Owls were unable to offer anything going forward and finally paid the price with six minutes to go. A Stoke corner was half-cleared but the ball was crossed back in to the far post where Paterson inadvertently headed into the path of Fletcher who made no mistake from inside the 6-yard box.
As the Owls tried to find a route back into the game the action became more stretched and Fletcher almost doubled his tally, forcing Westwood into a flying save from his back post header. Wednesday were given a late chance with a free-kick deep into stoppage time. Bannan’s delivery found Lees but his tame header was comfortably grasped by Gunn to seal three points for the home side.
The result leaves Wednesday 3rd from bottom of the Championship table, a points behind Rotherham, but the Millers have two games in hand. Coventry City are three points clear of the Owls having played the same number of games. Next up for Neil Thompson’s team is a massive game against 2nd-bottom Birmingham City at Hillsborough on Saturday.