Sheffield Wednesday defeated Rangers 1-0 in their penultimate pre-season friendly thanks to Michail Antonio’s 12th minute strike, writes Dom Howson.
The forward’s miss-hit volley from Joe Mattock’s corner some how went in to reward the hosts for their early pressure.
Watched on by Rotherham United chairman Tony Stewart and manager Steve Evans, who welcome their South Yorkshire neighbours to the New York Stadium a week on Tuesday in the first round of the Capital One Cup, the Owls almost took the lead after two minutes but Gary Madine nodded Antonio’s inviting cross inches wide.
Jermaine Johnson, operating just behind Madine, charged forward and let fly from distance moments later and goalkeeper Scott Gallacher did well to hang on to his fierce effort.
Birthday boy Rhys McCabe was subjected to boos just before kick-off by the 4,000 plus Rangers fans in attendance. The midfielder, a product of the Glasgow club’s youth system, opted to leave Ibrox and join Wednesday last summer.
Wednesday’s pace in the wide areas continued to trouble Rangers and just before the half hour mark Liam Palmer sent Antonio scampering down the right and his delivery was superbly cut out by Sebastien Faure, denying the sliding Madine a sight at goal.
Then the hosts first-choice shot-stopper Chris Kirkland was taken off and replaced by Adam Davies. As Kirkland trudged off the pitch, he did not appear to be carrying an injury.
After the re-start, Antonio laid a lovely pass into the path of Johnson, who tried to bend a right foot shot past Gallacher. However, the Jamaican international’s effort lacked power and accuracy as Gallacher comfortably held on.
Rangers continued offered little as an attacking force as Wednesday continued to monopolise possession and territory. A brilliant crossfield pass from the impressive Liam Palmer found Antonio and he cut inside and unleashed a low right foot drive which Gallacher smartly kept out.
But against the run of play, Rangers threatened three times in the space of five minutes. Nicky Law, formerly of Sheffield United and Rotherham United, dragged a shot wide from an acute angle. The dimunitive midfielder then freed Andrew Little, who stung the palms of Davies. Just after the hour mark, Little flashed a shot narrowly wide.
Back came Wednesday and Madine, on the stretch, stabbed Chris Maguire’s teasing cross over the top.
Spurred on by their vociferous fans, Rangers almost equalised courtesy of Nicky Clark but the substitute blazed wide from close range.
Owls: Kirkland (Davies 31); Palmer, Taylor, Zayatte, Mattock; Antonio, McCabe (Coke 71), Prutton (Semedo 56), Helan (Maguire 49); Madine, J Johnson (Corry 64). Substitutes: Gardner, Llera, Floro, Lavery, Dieseruvwe, Lambin, Obileye, Arnaud.
Rangers: Gallacher; Faure, Cribari (Mohsni 62), McAusland (Smith 71), Wallace (Peralta 71), McCulloch (Clark 62), Little (Forster 62), Black, Daly, Macleod (Crawford 71), Law. Substitutes: Bell, Smith, Clark, Airo, Gasparotto.
Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire)