SHEFFIELD Wednesday lost ground in the pronotion race as they lost 1-0 at home to leaders Charlton Athletics as neighbours United won at Bury and strengthened their position in second placce.
Wednesday included new signing Mike Jones and leading scorer Gary Madine, back after injury for the first time since November 19.
Madine made his presence felt in the first minute, fouling a defender after the Owls launched a long ball towards the Leppings Lane end.
When ex-Wednesday defender Morrison missed the ball inside the Charlton half, Madine took advantage with a quick pass towards Mike Jones, who showed pace in chasing it though he was just beaten to it in the box by Hamer.
Wright-Phillips let fly from a very narrow angle, on the right and Weaver had a save to make at his near post.
Wednesday had a double opportunity after great work by O’Grady on the left side of the area. His low ball was well aimed at Mike Jones, who missed his kick in front of goal. The ball fell for Lines, who shot low and on target but Hamer blocked his effort.
A Marshall corner brought the slightest of touches from Hamer to deflect the ball from the heads of the Wednesday big men in the box.
Madine flicked on a cross by Lines, but the ball carried through to the keeper. The promising start was followed by the jolt of a Charlton goal against the run of play in the 29th minute. Rob Jones and Reda Johnson were trying to win the ball against Pritchard a couple of yards outside the box and towards the right. Rob Jones was hurt in his challenge and Johnson was in quickly but brought down Pritchard.
After having treatment, Rob Jones had to go to the touchline, while the visitors took the free kick but his absence made little difference as Charlton captain JACKSON put away a first class free kick, the midfielder’s left footed shot being whipped into Weaver’s top left hand corner.
Bookings for Madine and Mike Jones followed soon afterwards.
A neat pass by Madine sent Mike Jones to the byline and he did the right thing in playing a low cross that Morrison intercepted.
The Owls had another chance in the 40th minute. Otsemobor launched a high ball down the middle and Rob Jones flicked it on to Batth. The centre half did not get much contact but the ball popped up in the air to Johnson who had a clear header but sent it straight at Hamer.
Madine chested down a forward pass from Lines to strike a sweet shot into the net in the final of four added minutes but an offside flag was up before he hit the shot.
The Owls had two scares in the opening four minutes of the second half.
Green streaked away from Reda Johnson down the right and played the ball in low and hard but it ran across the face of goal with nobody getting a touch.
Left back Wiggins played a fine through ball to Wright-Phillips, who out paced Rob Jones to get in behind the centre back down the inside left channel. With Weaver to beat, the striker shot firmly but the keeper not only stopped it but held on to the ball. It was a splendid save.
The Owls were next to have a chance three minutes later. A corner by Marshall was a real tester for the visiting defence as the big men attacked the ball and two of them challenged, Johnson and Rob Jones. The ball went over the bar with Jones seeming to get the touch.
Another Marshall corner from the right and this time Jones were virtually unimpeded at he jumped as he headed over the bar from six yards.
Weaver had to make another save, going down to his right to touch a shot from Wright-Phillips past the post.
Megson made a double substitution in the 64th minute, with Llera and Lowe coming on for Madine and Mike Jones.
Llera became a third centre back in a switch to 3-5-2, with Johnson and Otsemobor now playing as wing backs with Marshall playing just behind a front two of Lowe and O’Grady.
Marshall’s loan spell came to an end when he was taken off in the 74th minute to a warm ovation and Morrison sent on to make up a front three. When Charlton removed Wright-Phillips with Clarke, the ex-Wednesday striker received a hostile reception.
The Owls had switched to more of a 4-3-3 shape after the introduction of Morrison and they threw men forwards at every opportunity. At set pieces there was everybody in the Charlton box but Wednesday were finding it hard to make opportunities.
They needed a goaline block by Lines after more pressure from Charlton, who had been formidable opposition in this half. In the second of four added minutes, a Clinton Morrison header was cleared off the line. Weaver made another impressive save in the dying moments from sub Russell.