Match analysis: Brentford 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0 - Owls winless run stretches to six

Owls Jose Semedo flies in on Bees Alex Pritchard
Owls Jose Semedo flies in on Bees Alex Pritchard
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It was not quite how Stuart Gray would have liked to crown his 50th match in charge of Sheffield Wednesday.

But his Owls players capped the milestone by recording an eighth clean sheet and claiming a well-earned point at Brentford.

Owls Stevie May stoped by Bees Alan McCormack

Owls Stevie May stoped by Bees Alan McCormack

The result extends Wednesday’s winless run to six matches in all competitions but, had they been more clinical, could have clinched maximum points.

Gray, who has won 20 of his matches at the helm, decided to freshen up his starting line-up following their 3-0 defeat to Watford. He recalled Chris Maguire to midfield, with the Scot having served a one-match suspension for collecting five yellow cards.

Gray also handed Jeremy Helan his first league start of the season. With Sam Hutchinson ruled out for at least a couple of weeks due to a knee problem, Jose Semedo was given the nod to partner Kieran Lee in the middle of the park.

As Gary Madine hinted earlier in the day on Twitter, he dropped to the substitutes bench along with Jacques Maghoma and Hallam Hope as top-scorer Atdhe Nuhiu was preferred up front.

Owls Kieran Lee

Owls Kieran Lee

Lining up in a 4-4-2 formation, Wednesday had the first sight of goal in the fifth minute after Nuhiu fed Helan, whose shot from distance took a deflection and looped over the crossbar and out for a corner.

Brentford, celebrating their 125th anniversary, enjoyed plenty of possession in the early stages and got in several promising positions in the final third but struggled to break down the Owls’ stubborn rearguard. They thought they had breached the visitors backline in the 10th minute when Andre Gray turned in Jota’s low centre but the linesman chalked the goal off for off-side.

Jota, the long haired Spaniard, posed Wednesday one or two problems with his pace and clever movement. There were some vital headers, blocks and clearances made by skipper Glenn Loovens and Tom Lees as they battled to keep a stylish Brentford outfit at bay.

But Gray’s men soaked up the pressure and David Button produced a smart save to keep out Maguire’s fierce half volley mid-way through the half.

Wednesday gradually grew into the contest after a shaky opening and Tom Lees’ left foot effort was superbly cleared by Harlee Dean, a replacement for the suspended James Tarkowski.

Then Scotland Under-21 international May was sent scampering down Brentford’s left wing before being denied by Button from an acute angle.

Moments later, Button blocked Helan’s strike and Kieran Lee struck the crossbar with the follow up but the goal would not have counted as Lee was stood in an off-side position.

Wednesday had a strong penalty appeal turned down in the 35th minute when Alan McCormack appeared to bundle over May but referee Oliver Langford was not interested and waved play on.

Lady luck continued to desert May as his shot from Maguire’s inviting free kick hit the left-hand post and bounced to safety.

You sensed those missed chances could comeback to haunt the Owls in an entertaining and open first period and Gray nearly made punished them for their profligacy after he combined well with Moses Odubajo only to drag his attempt off target.

Much to Wednesday’s relief, Alex Pritchard, on loan from Tottenham, lifted over a free kick just before the interval.

Brentford made a bright start after the re-start and Lees sliced behind McCormack’s pacy delivery. From the resulting corner, Liam Palmer headed Jonathan Douglas’ bullet header off the line as the Owls continued to live dangerously.

Try as they might, Wednesday could not get a grip of the midfield area and Bees striker Gray wriggled his way past Lees before picking out Jota but the talented Spaniard dwelled too long on the ball and, under pressure from Palmer, blazed over.

They survived another major scare when Jota dinked a lovely ball over Wednesday’s backline but Gray volleyed wide. Even if Gray has scored, the strike would have been ruled out for off-side.

McCormack was penalised for a clumsy challenge on Helan just outside the box in the 66th minute and Button expertly palmed away Maguire’s free-kick.

Joe Mattock joined McCormack in the referee’s notebook after a rash tackle. That was the left-back’s fifth caution, meaning he will miss Saturday’s home engagement with Norwich.

Not content with a point, Gray threw on Madine at the expense of Lee while Brentford made a double alteration, putting on big striker Nick Proschwitz and Toumani Diagouraga.

With six minutes left, Proschwitz wasted a glorious chance to break the deadlock. He peeled away to the back post and, unmarked, side footed McCormack’s cross into the side-netting.

Owls substitute Royston Drenthe fired a free-kick straight at Button in the closing stages before Westwood spread himself brilliantly to foil Proschwitz with the outstanding Lees hacking the loose ball to ensure it finished all square.

Brentford: Button; McCormack, Craig, Dean, Bidwell; Douglas, Pritchard; Odubajo, Judge (Diagouraga 76), Jota (Proschwitz 76); Gray (Toral 84). Substitutes: Bonham, Betinho, Yennaris, Moore.

Wednesday: Westwood; Palmer, Lees, Loovens, Mattock; Maguire, Lee (Madine 72), Semedo, Helan; May (Drenthe 84) Nuhiu. Substitutes: Kirkland, Coke, Maghoma, Hope, Dielna.

Bookings: McCormack 66 for Brentford, Mattock 70 for Wednesday, May 84 for Wednesday

Goals: None

Attendance: 10,826

Referee: Oliver Langford (East Midlands)