DARREN Deadman provided a bitter pill for Owls fans to swallow once again as they were anticipating a place in the FA Cup fifth round and the sweetness of their take-home Sheffield Wednesday rock - a sell-out in shops close to Bloomfield Road.
Deadman was the referee when the stoppage-time board went up at Hillsborough showing five extra minutes at the end of the Huddersfield game and the opposition went on to snatch a vital goal.
Exactly the same thing happened on Saturday: five extra minutes and an equaliser even more cruel, considering that it came from a debatable penalty decision.
Deadman could not be blamed for Jordan Rhodes’s leveller in the 4-4 thriller at Hillsborough (which actually came in the sixth minute of injury time) but it was controversial when he penalised Chris Sedgwick on Saturday in the second of the five added minutes, and Kevin Phillips’ spot-kick forced a replay.
For me, even a close study of the TV film fails to show conclusively how exactly Seasiders forward Gary Taylor-Fletcher ended up on the deck.
Sedgwick was said to have tugged the sub’s shirt. At the time, I wondered about contact, or whether the forward had just gone down.
What the film does show, however, is that, though the ref was only around 12 yards away, his view may have been impeded by Mark Beevers.
But Stephen Bywater and Danny Batth seemed to be the only players to make a fuss about the decision.
Whatever, the Owls were unlucky to concede in such circumstances and at that stage of the game. Another irritating factor was that Taylor-Fletcher was not likely to have scored anyway: Batth was in a covering position.
whose brilliantly-taken goal had looked like taking Wednesday through, said: “When the board came up and you knew there were five minutes of injury time, I thought we’d hold on. We’ve got a great defensive unit.
“Sedg said it was a bit dubious. He didn’t think he tugged him.
“You have to move on. It’s an added game for other players who are trying to impress the gaffer. Hopefully we can finish them off at Hillsborough.”
It was a pity, too, for Sedgwick, one of those who came into a side showing seven changes, and who had a decent game along with most other members of the team, including Batth, solid at the back, and Chris Lines, who kept things ticking over in midfield.
As in the third-round win against West Ham, Wednesday did not look out of place against promotion-chasing Championship opposition, though a Blackpool side with eight changes did sometimes have the edge in possession.
Boss Gary Megson observed: “We’ve got 20 outfield players and four goalkeepers. We don’t have reserve players. all are considered, by me anyway, as first-team players.
“They all train together, travel together, do everything together. It was no great surprise to see people come in and do well. They’re all pretty well versed in what we are trying to do.”
The Owls manager questioned the penalty decision and praised Morrison’s goal, which to me looked better at a second viewing.
After keeper Matt Gilks had prevented Ryan Lowe from going around him and had knocked the ball loose, Morrison had two defenders and Gilks between him and the goal, but he still bent a right-foot shot into the net from the right-hand corner of the box, in the 52nd minute.
Wednesday also had first-half chances: Lowe had one volley blocked by Gilks - then Morrison stabbed the rebound wide - and another splendidly saved by the keeper, who also gathered all too easily when Lowe failed with a lob.
On the other hand, Bywater saved impressively from a header by Keith Southern and wonderfully from a volley by ex-United loan forward Billy Clarke, with his left hand.
Blackpool boss Ian Holloway claimed injustice over Wednesday’s goal. His team had only 10 men on the field at the time.
Keith Southern, back after beating testicular cancer, had walked off with a gash that needed eight stitches.
Holloway alleged that his captain had been hit by a “nasty tackle”. He said: “We were aggrieved. The game should have been stopped then they wouldn’t have scored. I was very careful when I spoke to the fourth official, because my behaviour is being monitored probably by aliens and the FA.
“If you ask me, justice was done. They think it wasn’t a penalty. I’m absolutely delighted that it was.”
Megson began with a usual 4-4-2 against Blackpool’s 4-3-3 (or 4-5-1) but changed to 4-1-4-1 in the 59th minute, to “tighten things up”, with Lewis Buxton playing in front of the back four after Jon Otsemobor came on.
The Owls boss summed up: “They had more of the possession in the first half. We could have nullified that by matching up their five in midfield but we were trying to get a win.”
“Once we did score, it was trying to keep hold of what we’d got; I can’t remember them having an opportunity other than chucking balls into the box.”
One such ball paid off for Blackpool. Rob Jones was beaten in the air - a rarity - and a flick-on led to the penalty incident. It was an anti-climax for the Owls.