Match Report: Middlesbrough 1 Wednesday 1

Back-to-form Michail Antonio volleys Wednesday  into the lead at the Riverside after Reda Johnson's  head down from a Helan corner
Back-to-form Michail Antonio volleys Wednesday into the lead at the Riverside after Reda Johnson's head down from a Helan corner
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Wednesday have their problems just now and are in need of reinforcements but one SOS has already been answered.

Jordan Spence was so keen to join the Owls on loan that he made a remarkable dash to make his debut at Middlesbrough.

“I got a call at 7pm (on Friday) when I was just about to have dinner with my fiancée,” he said.

“Quickly I went to West Ham’s training ground and got my boots. I got on a train from King’s Cross to Darlington, jumped in a cab, got to the hotel at about 1.30am, signed the papers and got myself off to bed.

“I knew Monday’s deadline was coming around so I was ready for every eventuality, but it arrived a bit more unexpectedly than I thought.”

Some will also see the Owls’ draw at the Riverside Stadium as a little unexpected, all things considered, but they just about deserved a point for another battling performance despite having lost Lewis Buxton and Anthony Gardner.

Spence enjoyed a steady debut and did not look out of place. He said:“I thought I did okay. The most important thing was we get a result. It was disappointing that we couldn’t hold on for longer at 1-0 to give us the chance of all three points.

“I can be much better than that. I am not making excuses but I have not played a lot of football so far this season. Physically it was demanding and something to build on.”

Miguel Llera made a capable deputy for Gardner, who was carried off in the 39th minute with a serious Achilles tendon injury, and though Wednesday had to hang on in the second half, and overall Middlesbrough created more chances, the Owls had opportunities that could have snatched them a win.

There was a welcome return to form for Michail Antonio until he missed a late, great opportunity.

His first goal of the season was smartly taken, volleyed into the roof of the net after Reda Johnson headed down a 34th minute corner by Jeremy Helan.

Last season’s top scorer nagged Boro with his pace and power, confidently struck a terrific long-range effort that went just wide, and set up an opportunity for Liam Palmer in first-half stoppage time. “He was a handful,” said Dave Jones.

The home team’s equaliser just after half time, created by striker Lukas Jutkiewicz after he got away from an off-balance Kamil Zayatte, inspired them to power forward in the second half but in the first of seven added minutes Antonio ran clear on the break and from the left side of the box shot tamely at the keeper when Atdhe Nuhiu was waiting in the middle for a tap-in.

The consolation for Wednesday was that despite their injuries and need for new blood this was a third successive game unbeaten and an away point against a side who by all accounts outplayed Wigan the previous weekend.

No-one had expected Jones to sign a right back, and Buxton trained on Friday and was part of the game plan. When he pulled out because of his hamstring problem, Jones elected to sign someone rather than switch Liam Palmer to right back and disrupt midfield plans that had already been made.

“We got straight on the blower and Sam (West Ham boss Sam Allardyce) helped us out,” said Jones, who said he did not know how long Buxton would be out. “It’s difficult to come in in the early hours of the morning and then perform, but Jordan had a good debut. He got forward when he could and defended really well.

“Once Lewis felt his hamstring, I didn’t really want to put a square peg in a round hole. We’d worked for three days on what we were going to do and I felt it was better if we just made one change, a right back for a right back. Liam gives us good cover but his position is where he plays (midfield).”

Jones set up to counter-attack Boro with the pace up front of Antonio and Jermaine Johnson and with other players breaking forward - which meant no place this time for Atdhe Nuhiu. Tony Mowbray acknowledged: “Antonio, Helan and Johnson are very fast players...Wednesday were dangerous on the break and a threat at set pieces.”

Nuhiu’s fellow sub, Llera had not been on the team sheet but was given a place after Caolan Lavery felt his calf just before the game.

A 61st minute change came when Boro were an attacking force and a defensive midfield player, Jose Semedo, replaced Johnson, which was unpopular with those fans who wanted the Owls to attack primarily.

Antonio then appeared to be on his own up front, but Giles Coke was given licence to go forward from midfield, and Jones insisted: “Liam and Jeremy were pushing on. We had four forwards on the pitch and we’d had four strikers on the bench. We didn’t try to settle for a draw. We tried to win it.” Nuhiu too joined the attack when he came on for Coke in the 77th minute.

Jones appreciated that everybody will have an opinion about how the game could be won but said if the team had lost it would have been the wrong decision.

“We came up against a very good side,” said Jones. “I watched them against Wigan and they totally dominated the game for near on 75 minutes; they were sharp and quick.

“Against us they came up against a side who are probably a bit quicker than them all round.

“It was a very hard fought point. In the end we nullified each other; we were expecting a bit of speciality from the forwards, in the end, as Tony was. It didn’t come.

“But we’ll continue to dig in and keep going.”