BATMAN Live has just ended a run at the nearby O2 Arena but there was only one hero for Wednesday fans at The Valley last night.
Substitute Clinton Morrison swooped to equalise and salvage a deserved first away point of the season for the Owls after they made a poor start against unbeaten Charlton. It was also a reward for a tenacious performance by Gary Megson’s men overall and proof that Morrison still has something to offer despite the arrivals of Chris O’Grady and Ryan Lowe.
Morrison got his chance after Lowe limped off early in the second half, having begun the game only as a sub yet been sent on early after Bradley Wright-Phillips shot the Addicks into a third-minute lead and they missed a clear chance to make it 2-0. But the Owls fought back strongly and ended a run of four away defeats.
Wednesday had made four changes to the side that started the previous League game, the 3-2 home win against Scunthorpe.
Richard O’Donnell’s selection came amid speculation that Nicky Weaver was suffering from another spot of knee trouble. Mark Reynolds came in at left back because Julian Bennett was ruled out by his hamstring injury. With Liam Palmer with Scotland Under 21s, and Morrison dropped to the bench, there were starts for Chris Lines and Chris Sedgwick in a 4-5-1 formation that had Sedgwick on the left and Ben Marshall the right.
New striker Ryan Lowe was only on the bench, as was loan defender David Kasnik, with Reda Johnson on international duty with Benin. Former Wednesday target Danny Green was out as Charlton recalled fit-again Bradley Wright-Phillips to play up front - and it took him less than four minutes to have the home fans singing “he’s better than Shaun.”
The Owls failed to close Wright-Phillips down and his right-foot strike into the bottom corner beat O’Donnell through power, accuracy and surprise. It was hardly the start that Wednesday wanted as they sought to end a run of four away defeats, and it could have grown worse in the 17th minute.
Jones failed to clear a low ball to the far post and it ran behind him to midfield man Dale Stephens who was running in untracked as he lifted a clear-cut chance over the bar. With Wednesday unable to get anything together going forward, and needing a goal to get back in the game, Megson brought on Lowe in only the 22nd minute and switched to 4-4-2.
Sedgwick was taken off, and Marshall switched to the left side of midfield and Lines to the right.
Lowe was given a warm reception by the Wednesday fans - and ex-Charlton star Jose Semedo had been well received by home supporters before the kick-off.
But, while Wednesday were preparing to take a free kick, there was nothing friendly about a pushing-and-shoving between Michael Morrison and one of the men who replaced him in the Owls team, Rob Jones. It resulted in bookings for both players.
Then Semedo annoyed the fans when he sent Wright-Phillips tumbling during a Charlton breakaway and was yellow carded.
Wednesday had not looked like scoring but they were enjoying a healthy share of possession and preventing Charlton from giving them any more scares.
David Prutton was pulling some strings and he contributed an important toe-poke to deflect a dangerous ball across the box by Wright-Phillips early in the second half. Lowe and Matt Taylor collided and needed treatment; soon afterwards the striker limped off, with an ankle injury.
When Morrison entered the fray he received a rough reception from the home fans - he is a former Crystal Palace player. It took him only three minutes to stun them with his goal: headed in off the bar centrally from close range after a Lines right-wing corner flicked off the head of a defender at the near post. Morrison ran the full length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the Wednesday fans.
Charlton knew their grasp on the contest could be slipping; they piled men forward at a corner, forced a scramble and saw a left-foot effort by Michael Morrison clear the post. Semedo received an ovation from the home fans when he was taken out of the heat of battle and replaced by James O’Connor.
Wednesday won tackles and headers in their half to keep the home team at arm’s length. But a terrific forward ball from Marshall showed that the Owls could also be dangerous on the break; good defending ended a fine run into the box by Lewis Buxton. Heading into the last 10 minutes Wednesday had given as good as they got, on the whole, once they had recovered from that bad start.
O’Donnell was right behind a close-range header from a narrow angle by Taylor - and that was the final threat from Charlton, a big-spending, promotion-chasing side who had been matched in many ways by the Owls.
ADDICKS: Hamer 6, Solly 6, Taylor 7, Morrison 7, Wiggins 6, Wagstaff 6, Hollands 7, Stephens 8, Jackson 6, Hayes 6 (Euell 78), Wright-Phillips 7. Unused subs: Sullivan, Hughes, Pritchard, Cort.
OWLS: O’Donnell 6, Buxton 7, Batth 6, R Jones 8, Reynolds 7, Marshall 6, Semedo 7 (O’Connor 74), Prutton 7, Lines 7, Sedgwick 6 (Lowe 22,6; Morrison, 56, 7), Madine 7. Unused subs: Jameson, Kasnik.
Referee: Darren Deadman (Peterborough).
Goals: Wright-Phillips (3). C Morrison (56).
Bookings: Jones (35) unsporting behaviour, M Morrison (35) unsporting behaviour, Semedo (42) foul, C Morrison (62)
dissent, Prutton (72) foul.