In Dickie Bird’s sport, singles are a way of building a big total.
But one goal a game is proving insufficient for Wednesday to make progress and even Dicky, the Barnsley fan and world-famous cricket umpire, could see why they felt aggrieved in being a denied a second goal on Saturday and a breakthrough victory.
He spotted the handball by Reds defender Jean-Yves M’voto and told Dave Jones so after the game in a bit of banter behind the main stand.
Dickie was right, too, about two great saves by Jack Butland which kept his team in it.
But on the whole a draw was about right in view of the way.Barnsley bossed the first half against an Owls team who in this period were painfully out of sorts, with football far inferior to that which produced probably their best display of the season, at Bolton a week earlier.
In the second half, they were much improved yet no-one else could emulate Matty Fryatt’s killer touch around the box, and the injustice of M’voto’s unpunished penalty offence became important.
The Reds in the first half swarmed around the Owls when they had possession, closing them down and stopping them from playing freely from the back or through midfield,
There were unforced errors too, Wednesday could not string passes together, or get their forwards into the game properly, and even Stephen McPhail’s set-pieces were poor. It was a baptism of fire for Seyi Olofinjana, signed on a month-to-month deal and given Jose Semedo’s midfield job, in his first league outing since the Owls’ final game of last season.
Wednesday’s only sniff in this half was an early diving header put into the side-netting by Roger Johnson.
Barnsley were lively going forward as well, though not creating anything clear-cut except for the sweet scoring volley from Marcus Pedersen after a mistake by Reda Johnson.
It was looking grim for Wednesday at half-time, then David Perkins put a chance over the bar and it turned a bit nasty when the 51st-minute replacement of Jermaine Johnson by Atdhe Nuhiu sparked a chant from some fans of “you don’t know what you’re doing” aimed at Dave Jones.
But JJ, playing as a forward to back up Matty Fryatt, had not been able to affect the game. Nuhiu did, with Fryatt playing off him - so it proved to be a good decision by the manager.
The Owls also seemed seemed to be roused by the handball controversy, in which M’Voto punched a Michail Antonio long throw in the 56th minute.
Jones said of the referee: “I don’t know how he’s missed it. And last week we basically won the game but had a goal disallowed. They’re big decisions, and we feel a bit hard done by.”
Nuhiu held the ball up with strength and control, became a focal point and gave Fryatt better support. He might also have scored with a powerful header. Wednesday played with more precision and freedom all over the park and were the better side in the second half.
Nuhiu had a deflected shot kept out by a Butland first-class save, after an assist by Antonio. Said Jones: “I thought Atdhe did re-
ally well; he probably changed the game for us. In the first half we couldn’t get in the pockets (of space) like we did at Bolton. We couldn’t get people turned. They pressed us and stopping us from passing through the midfield, and we were getting caught on the ball all the time.
“In the second half I just felt we needed a focal point. and someone for Matty to feed off. Before that, he was the striker up top and JJ was feeding off him but we couldn’t get JJ into the game, he couldn’t get into the game. and that’s why he was brought off.”
In a three-minute spell, Fryatt crisply volleyed the equaliser, after a long ball by Jeremy Helan
bounced into the air off Reda Johson, and Butland made his second first-class save, from a close-range volley by Antonio after Roger Johnson headed the ball across the box.
Amid this purple patch for Wednesday, Giles Coke took over
from Olofinjana in midfield. Jones explained: “It’s another player (Olofinjana) who’s been training but he hasn’t been playing, We asked him to give us an hour. We needed some strength in there today, we felt, with losing Semi.
“Seyi just needs game time. He did some really good things.”
Jones felt that if anything Antonio struck his chance too well as the ball flew straight at the keeper. He said: “Cog (Chris O’Grady) scored a goal last week when somebody else’s shot has hit him and gone in.
“Michail hits it sweet. If he catches it on his heel or his toe, it goes in. That’s the bit of luck we need sometimes.”
Luck was with Reda Johnson and Pedersen, in Jones’ view, when they were both booked after an off-the-ball confrontation. David Flitcroft claimed the Owls captain “threw his head” at Pedersen and should have been sent off.
Jones said: “Both lads put their heads together. They were both stupid and both got punished for it. It was probably one of the right decisions, giving them yellow cards. They’re probably lucky the referee didn’t send off the pair of them.” But Mr Madley was caught out by the handball, and this season continues to be a slog for Wednesday.