Match report: Bolton Wanderers 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1

Owls players surrond referee Chris Foy after Jose Semedo's sending off.
Owls players surrond referee Chris Foy after Jose Semedo's sending off.
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Sometimes you just have to grin and bear it.

Wednesday could not smile after Saturday’s misfortunes but they laid bare their respect for the fans.

Players went towards the away end after the final whistle and seven of them stripped off their shirts and threw them to the crowd.

It was a spontaneous gesture to those who gave the team great backing throughout and applauded them after the result.

The scenes, amid a torrential rain shower, could hardly have been more poignant even if that elusive first win had arrived.

But it was a fitting reflection on what was probably the best performance of the season.

It is a wonder that three points were not in the bag after a gripping and incident-packed contest. The team battled, played some fluent football within Dave Jones’ usual away game plan of 4-5-1 and did not look like a side who have set a club record by going through the first 11 league games without a win.

A cynic could say that the Owls still needed an own goal to get on the scoresheet and once again conceded an all too simple goal.

From a seemingly innocuous punt down the middle, Jermaine Beckford bustled past the recalled Kamil Zayatte and found space close to Roger Johnson to make the most of a backheel from Neil Danns and score with an admittedly impressive finish.

Chris Kirkland had to admit: “We gave a sloppy goal away. I felt a couple of us could have done better; I could have done better. We were on top, causing them problems,”

He is right. Slick build-up had just seen Giles Coke fire a chance wide from a pass by Michail Antonio, and Matty Fryatt forced a super stop from Adam Bogdan after a Coke assist.

Wednesday deserved their bit of fortune when danger man Jeremy Helan delivered what Jones described as a “great ball” and left-back Alex Baptiste - probably worried by the presence of Antonio just behind him - headed into his own net.

So, behind for only 11 minutes, the Owls continued to pass and play with confidence.

In the second half Helan hit the post and set up a sharp opportunity that Antonio volleyed wide, then Reda Johnson had a diving header from an Antonio cross cleared from the goalmouth, and sub Jermaine Johnson - on because Fryatt was feeling unwell - received a Coke header to drag a shot across goal.

Bolton had two chances: Chris Eagles shot over the bar from 12 yards and Beckford finished tamely towards Kirkland.

The big moment came in the 72nd minute when a free-kick by Stephen McPhail was nodded out to JJ. His fine header sailed into the net and up went the flag from lineswoman Sian Massey. TV replays are inconclusive whether Reda Johnson was in an offside position when JJ played the ball; it must have been close. But Reda did not touch the ball anyway. It went over him and he was not in Bogdan’s line of sight so, in my view, was not interfering with play. Jones said: “Someone said we were blocking the goalkeeper. But he is in the centre of the goal. The ball has gone into the corner, so how can we be impeding him?”

Wednesday used their own technology to judge that the offside decision was incorrect and the sending-off of Jose Semedo was unjustified.

At the time, I thought the red card was harsh. After reviewing it on TV, sure enough he plays the ball first, so I still think the same.

With the naked eye, it may have looked as if Semedo had missed the ball and caught Jay Spearing late, as Bolton tried to go forward, for the ball shot upfield.

But what happened was that, in a split second, Semedo played the ball first, it rebounded upfield off Spearing, and Semedo - with his foot in contact with the floor - caught the opponent accidentally with the follow-through.

The reaction of players was significant. If Bolton had felt the tackle was deplorable then surely Semedo would instantly have been confronted by angry opponents. He was clearly incredulous and distraught as he left the field.

But it is by no means certain that the appeal against the dismissal will succeed. Chris Foy is a Premier League ref and had a good view of the incident. If he has a mind to it, he could perhaps claim that the tackle was reckless; there was a split second when Semedo, dashing towards Spearing, was off the ground before he slid into the challenge. That is what Dougie Freedman homed in on in his post-match interview

On the whole, though, Wednesday and Semedo were unlucky.

They hung on in the final stages - with JJ even having the opportunity to create a winner, shooting when he should have passed to the unmarked Antonio, before Kirkland made two brilliant stops from Matt Mills headers in stoppage time.

Jones also made the point that, before the red-card incident, Bolton sub Robert Hall could have been sent off.

Seemingly frustrated at having just been denied a foul on the edge of the Owls box, Hall rushed towards Lewis Buxton and chopped him down on the touchline.

Jones said: “Because he hasn’t got the free-kick, he’s run at Lewi. That was premeditated; that’s the one that does the most damage. He could have broken Lewi’s leg.

“But let’s talk about how well we played. After their goal, we were superb. There’s a lot to build on. The only downside was we had to bring Matty off; he’s been ill; he ran himself into the ground, gave everything.

“It would have been nice if more of the chances had fallen to him. We quietened everybody except our fans - they were brilliant.

“It was probably our best performance. I couldn’t fault anybody; at the end Kirky made two great saves.

“We played them off the park. When you feel you have scored the winner, it’s hard when it’s taken away from you.”