Wednesday’s home troubles show no sign of coming to an end as high-flying Bournemouth inflicted more misery on Stuart Gray’s side last night.
Second half goals from Andrew Surman and substitute Ryan Fraser stretched the Owls’ winless run to nine matches in all competitions. Their last success came against Reading on September 20.
Defeat means the Owls have won just once in eight Championship fixtures in their own backyard during the 2014/15 campaign. No team in the division has scored fewer home goals and are still looking to hit the back of the net from open play.
To compound matters, Royston Drenthe was sent off for two bookable offences while it was all square but, in truth, that had little bearing on the final result.
Gray tried freshening up his midfield department to find a winning formula, bringing in Giles Coke and Kieran Lee. It was Coke’s first start since their 2-1 defeat at Cardiff City on September 27. Jose Semedo dropped to the substitutes bench.
With Joe Mattock ruled out with an ankle injury, Gray switched Jeremy Helan to left-back.
By contrast, Bournemouth named an unchanged starting line-up for the fifth match in a row. That consistency in selection partly explains why they are flying high at the top of the league.
It was Wednesday who created the first meaningful chance after a flowing move on the right hand side involving Lee and Palmer. Nuhiu fed Royston Drenthe but Artur Boruc comfortably held on to his long range strike.
Oozing confidence following his goal at The Valley, Drenthe tried his luck from distance but Boruc was again equal to it.
Wednesday remained on the front foot and Coke dragged a left foot effort well wide after a neat lay off by Jacques Maghoma.
Although Bournemouth monopolised possession in the early stages, there was little end product to their patient build up play. Indeed, Keiren Westwood wasn’t called into action until the 15th minute, holding on to Marc Pugh’s looping header after a good corner to the back post by Matt Ritchie.
Maghoma asked one or two questions of Bournemouth’s back four. The winger cut inside and unleashed a rasping right foot drive which was superbly turned away by Poland international Boruc.
Some of the Cherries passing football was very pleasing on the eye. A nice one two between Pugh and Charlie Daniels led to the latter whipping in a lovely cross which Callum Wilson, their 11-goal top-scorer, glanced well off target.
The diminutive Ritchie wriggled past Helan deep inside Wednesday’s half and slid a pass into the path of Wilson on the half hour mark and the striker side-stepped Glenn Loovens before forcing Westwood into a save. The goalkeeper gathered the rebound with Brett Pitman lurking.
Pugh fired over the top before Ritchie’s tame strike went straight into the arms of Westwood as the Cherries started to dictate proceedings.
Drenthe issued a reminder to Bournemouth that he could punish them on the counter attack, flashing a venomous effort over.
But it was the visitors who carried a greater threat and appeared the more composed side in the final third and Wilson blazed over from an acute angle after racing on to a clever pass by Pitman.
Three minutes before the interval, Pugh fed Ritchie, who let fly from distance but Westwood, diving to his left, palmed it away for a corner. From the resulting corner, Ritchie, who has contributed eight assists this season, drilled a low shot into the side-netting as Wednesday continued to live dangerously.
There were a few boos at half-time. There were too many occasions where Wednesday turned over possession cheaply. Bournemouth stifled Nuhiu’s threat and the big man ploughed a lonely furrow up front at times.
But Gray’s troops almost made the perfect start to the second half as Drenthe’s corner caused mayhem but Tom Lees’ header clipped the crossbar and drifted over.
Wednesday worked hard off the ball throughout to harry and force Bournemouth into making mistakes.
Liam Palmer, seeking his first goal of the season, blasted a shot over after the Cherries only partially cleared another Drenthe set-piece.
The hosts survived a big scare in the 55th minute after Bournemouth intercepted a sloppy pass by Lee. Pitman led a rapid charge and released Wilson but the forward, who cost in excess of £2m from Coventry City in the summer, blazed off target when he should have at least hit the target.
Things got even tougher for Wednesday when Drenthe was given his marching orders after a late challenge on Harry Arter on the hour mark. The Dutchman, cautioned in the first half for upending Daniels, will now miss Saturday’s South Yorkshire derby with Rotherham United.
It took Bournemouth just five minutes to make the most of their numerical advantage as Wilson squared to Surman, who curled a stunning left foot spot out of Westwood’s reach.
Owls kept on battling and Steve Cook had to be alert to cut out Helan’s centre after a fine run by the Frenchman.
Any hopes of a Wednesday comeback were well and truly extinguished in the 69th minute as Fraser made no mistake after running on to Wilson’s inviting through ball.
Gray threw on Stevie May, who turned 22 on Monday, but the Owls rarely looked capable of grabbing a consolation.
The goals have dried up for Wednesday but the three points lifted Bournemouth up to first spot and, judging by this performance, they will take some shifting. That was their ninth win from their last 10 matches and sixth on the spin.
Wednesday: Westwood, Palmer, Loovens, Lees, Helan, Maguire (May 66), Coke, Lee (Dielna 78), Maghoma, Drenthe, Nuhiu. Substitutes: Kirkland, Semedo, Taylor-Fletcher, McCabe, Young.
Bournemouth: Boruc; Francis, Cook, Elphick, Daniels; Ritchie (Fraser 65), Arter, Surman, Pugh; Pitman (Kermorgant 65), Wilson (Rantie 87). Substitutes: Camp, Gosling, Harte, Smith.
Bookings: Drenthe (foul) 26 and 60, Maguire 65
Goals: Surman 65, Fraser 69
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)