MATCH REPORT: AFC Bournemouth 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0

Aerial command: Isaiah Osbourne gets in a header as the Owls battle it out at high flying Bournemouth.     Pictures: Steve Ellis
Aerial command: Isaiah Osbourne gets in a header as the Owls battle it out at high flying Bournemouth. Pictures: Steve Ellis
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WEDNESDAY stopped the rot last night by picking up their first point in eight away League games.

It was also their best League performance in the two and a half months since they thrashed Bristol Rovers 6-2 at Hillsborough in December.

Close call: Bournemouth keeper Jalal foils Owls pair of Tommy Miller and Mark Beevers

Close call: Bournemouth keeper Jalal foils Owls pair of Tommy Miller and Mark Beevers

The Owls lived dangerously in the second half when Bournemouth missed a penalty and hit the post.

But, against a side who were second in the table, Wednesday were the better side in the first half, matched the Cherries in the second, and made chances at intervals throughout the 90 minutes.

At times they were kept out only by the saves of ex-Hillsborough loan keeper Shwan Jalal, who was voted the home team’s Man of the match.

The Owls also showed a new effectiveness in their defending as a team, and earned their first League clean sheet since the 3-0 home win against Walsall in November.

All hands to the pump: Gary Madine clears the danger for Wednesday

All hands to the pump: Gary Madine clears the danger for Wednesday

The Owls are still without a League win in 10 games, but this was a hugely encouraging result and display.

They looked better for further changes: for the first time, Gary Megson fielded five in midfield, and he made six alterations to the line-up that started at Birmingham.

Gary Madine was recalled as a sole striker after being Cup-tied last Saturday.

There were starts for the successful St Andrews subs, Richard Hinds, Mark Beevers and Liam Palmer, while Tommy Miller - back after missing seven games with a hamstring injury - and Chris Sedgwick were given their first games under the new manager.

Liam the lion: Liam Palmer runs at the Bournemouth defence

Liam the lion: Liam Palmer runs at the Bournemouth defence

Miller was also captain, with Clinton Morrison dropped to the bench along with Daniel Jones, Neil Mellor and James O’Connor.

There were no places at all for Mark Reynolds and Michael Morrison, two of Alan Irvine’s January signings, who were taken off last Saturday and were the principal cause of Megson’s unhappiness over the defending that preceded Birmingham’s first two goals.

Gary Teale played on the left flank, Sedgwick on the right.

Isaiah Osbourne was the most defensive of a centre-midfield three comprising him, Miller and Palmer, but the on-loan Villa man made a strong run into the box to hit the first chance of the match in the fifth minute - a low shot saved by ex-Owls loan keeper Shwan Jalal - after creative work from Madine and Sedgwick.

Bournemouth, unbeaten in seven games under new manager Lee Bradbury, were unchanged after a late equaliser robbed them of a 1-0 win at Huddersfield on Saturday.

The Cherries went into last night’s game in second place in the table but Wednesday went forward with speed and determination and were the better side in the early stages, dominating possession.

A second opportunity came to Osbourne in the 16th minute: after pressure caused by a fine corner from Spurr, the midfield man saw his shot touched past the near post by Jalal.

It was 24 minutes - by which time the Owls are normally two down - before Bournemouth posed any sort of threat, as midfielder Marc Pugh shot tamely at Weaver from 20 yards.

Striker Danny Ings did exactly the same from just inside the box in the 37th minute in a counter-attack after Wednesday had continued to press forward and cause the home side problems.

In the last minute of the first half the Owls hunted for the goal they deserved: Madine’s lay-off sparked a run by Miller, and only desperate defending in the box thwarted the skipper.

It was a first half appreciated by the 728 Wednesday fans in the corner of the ground who had refused to be put off by a long midweek trip.

They were almost cheering a goal only 25 seconds after the restart: Madine missed the ball, it ran for Palmer, who was bursting through the middle, and his rising shot from the edge of the area was turned for a corner by Jalal.

So it was against the run of play when the Cherries were gifted the chance to take the lead.

Johnson barged into the back of striker Michael Symes just inside the box and flattened him: a penalty, in the 54th minute. But Symes clipped the spot kick past Weaver’s left-hand post while the keeper went the other way.

A needless foul by Johnson on Ings just after that earned the defender a booking and gave the Cherries the opportunity to launch the ball into the box.

Megson must have been hoping that all the sound work of the team so far was not going to be marred by rash play.

But four minutes later it took an exceptional save to deny the Owls a breakthrough.

After a raid down the left, Spurr pulled the back to Miller, who tried to pick his spot but saw Jalal get down quickly to stop his shot.

Bournemouth, however, seemed to have derived some encouragement from the penalty incident and were more of a threat than they had been in the first half.

Wiggins angled a cross into the box, Johnson seemed to leave it, Symes was running in, and Weaver had to palm it away for corner.

When the corner was played out to centre half Shaun Cooper, he produced a terrific long-range strike to hit Weaver’s right-hand post.

The Owls had received two doses of luck in this half but they still looked far more solid than in recent games.

And they created another chance in the 76th minute. Sedgwick broke through the middle into the box and hit a left-foot effort along the ground: again Jalal would not be beaten.

Wednesday battled to the end and richly deserved the applause from their supporters.