Exeter 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1: Match Report

Exeter City v Sheffield Wednesday.....GOAL.....Citys equaliser staright from the free kick from Billy Jones
Exeter City v Sheffield Wednesday.....GOAL.....Citys equaliser staright from the free kick from Billy Jones
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ANYBODY who thinks promotion can be achieved standing on your head, figuratively speaking, should have been at Exeter on Saturday.

Jermaine Johnson struck the pose momentarily but only in frustration after shooting wide.

Exeter City v Sheffield Wednesday.....GOAL.....Owls Jermaine Johnson puts Wednesday into a second half lead lat lasted only 3 minutes

Exeter City v Sheffield Wednesday.....GOAL.....Owls Jermaine Johnson puts Wednesday into a second half lead lat lasted only 3 minutes

That came in the Owls’ best spell during the first half when they pressed forward and had chances, as many will have expected the game to go.

It was second against strugglers, a big club against lowly opposition who have lost key players and had not scored for four matches.

But it’s not easy; unless you keep up the right standards the form book can be turned upside down.

Wednesday ended up losing a turgid affair with a strangely lethargic performance.

Johnson struck a smashing second-half goal - his fourth in his last six appearances - and the Owls could have taken a grip on the game before that.

But they were not potent enough going forward and overall lacked the drive and quality you might expect from a promotion-hunting side.

Megson did not reel off names in his strong criticism of the team and made it clear he was not talking about all his players.

But it seemed significant that Gary Madine was taken off relatively early for the third time in his last three appearances, having once again not rediscovered his form and scoring touch.

John Bostock still looked to be finding his feet in his new environment after his move from Spurs and was replaced at half time. Megson said of the loan midfield man: “He needs to get a bit of life in his game. He’s got quality but I wasn’t happy with what I saw. It was only me settling down a bit that stopped me making three subsititutions at half time.”

Maybe it was time to mourn the loss of the guile of Ben Marshall; and the energy and power of the suspended Reda Johnson were certainly missed.

Chris O’Grady is a grafter but he was blunted by some rugged defending. Apart from Johnson, who continually posed Exeter problems with his runs and liveliness, and Miguel Llera, who was impressive once again, the Owls had no-one who had a really good game.

Even Stephen Bywater raised question marks. Gary Megson, talking about the first of Exeter’s two free-kick goals, whipped into the bottom corner by left back Billy Jones said: “I’m not sure about the positioning of the wall but Stephen should have guarded that side.

“It’s right in the corner but that’s his side. If it goes into the corner on the other side, then there’s no blame on the goalkeeper. We’ve got a wall but we didn’t prepare for the free kick in the right manner.”

The free kick had been conceded by Rob Jones, who had just come on for the injured Llera. Exeter’s second was irritating because it came after a dubious decision against Jose Semedo: “It was ridiculous,” said Megson.

“It’s not Semedo’s fault that he’s stronger than the fella who ended up on his backside. That sort of thing had been going on throughout the game. It was an unstoppable strike by the lad, but it wasn’t a free kick in the first place.” It was a remarkable goal. Midfielder David Noble’s right-foot shot went extraordinarily high and dipped home, with Bywater not making an attempt to save, either because he thought it was going wide or because he knew he could not get to it.

Megson clearly felt the Llera was missed after he went off with a facial cut: “I thought he was our best player. The injury has cost us.”

The centre half was hurt while attacking a Lines corner moments before Johnson’s goal: a crisp half-volley from 18 yards with his left foot, after a Julian Bennett long throw had been half cleared.

Wednesday’s first-half opportunities were a shot over the bar from 18 yards by Semedo, an over-running of the ball by Madine after he flicked it over the keeper; a Llera header from a Bostock cross which that was splendidly saved; a half-chance volleyed over the bar by David Prutton; and Johnson’s run where he outpaced the defence on the outside and shot wide of the near post.

Wednesday mostly defended well, getting bodies in the way of crosses and shots - particularly Llera and Danny Batth.

But overall it was a poor game and Wednesday were unconvincing - as they were in the first half against Yeovil.

They travelled to and from Exeter by train and have an opportunity against Stevenage tomorrow to put their promotion campaign back on the right lines.