Match report: Sheffield Wednesday 0 Nottingham Forest 1

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When Roger Johnson took a vicious kick at an advertising board after he was narrowly denied an equaliser in stoppage time, it summed up Wednesday’s frustration on Saturday.

In general the defeat by Forest was a kick in the teeth for the Owls to follow the promise they showed in beating Leicester.

Owls Seyi Olofinjana tackles Forest's Henri Lansbury

Owls Seyi Olofinjana tackles Forest's Henri Lansbury

It was the sort of game seen many times this season: not much in it, but with Wednesday lacking an extra bit of quality in vital areas and paying for a defensive lapse.

Looking on the bright side, they were good enough to beat Leicester and have now run another promotion-chasing team close. That is a thought to sustain hope as they seek that elusive climb up the table.

There were compliments too from Billy Davies.

The Forest boss said: “Wednesday had a fantastic result against Leicester. They have very good players at this club, They are a strong team.

“It was a very, very solid performance from us. Tactically, we were excellent and I thought we competed very, very well with a club that has good players and a club that is probably sitting in the wrong position.

“I am sure they will get themselves up this league table.”

There still seems to be no lack of drive in the Wednesday camp.

Once again they gave it their all. But Stuart Gray ended up spotlighting the same shortcomings that Dave Jones used to talk about, concerning quality in the attacking third and concentration when defending.

The result also hinged on the matter of chance-taking: Atdhe Nuhiu missed two early opportunities; Forest capitalised fully in the second-half counter-attack that brought them the winner, with a fine ball by ex-United defender Greg Halford the key element, giving Simon Cox a tap-in.

The break came indirectly from a Wednesday free-kick in the opposition’s half. The Owls were caught pushing forward and Halford had lots of space.

A second look suggests that Glenn Loovens, who on the whole forged a classy partnership with Roger Johnson, might have made more of a an effort to cut out the cross as it passed in front of him. Roger Johnson did throw himself at it, and there were three other teammates in the middle, but somehow the ball reached a striker who put away his fourth goal in five games.

Connor Wickham had an identical record until Saturday. But the star of the Leicester game was tightly marked by Forest and struggled to make an impact, as did Wednesday as a team when they were attacking.

They could not get behind Forest often enough, and when they did get into good areas the final ball or telling set-piece was usually missing. Jacques Maghoma’s free-kick which made Nuhiu’s fifth-minute header was an exception, but the striker powered his effort over the bar.

When keeper Karl Darlow gifted Nuhiu another chance in the 15th minute, with a pass to his feet, Nuhiu’s first touch let him down and the ball bounced back towards the keeper.

The only other real opening was that shot by Roger Johnson in a penalty-area scramble, in the last few minutes when Wednesday were throwing everything at Forest.

Davies’ team worked hard throughout to close the Owls down and defended stoutly, but they too found it hard to create openings.

Djamal Abdoun missed one, shooting over the bar just before half-time, and I think it should have been a penalty at 1-0 for a challenge on Cox by Damian Martinez.

Gray tried a double substitution as a way of finding more penetration, sending on Reda Johnson, in the hope that could score from a set-piece, and Jeremy Helan, as early as the 62nd minute, and using Jermaine Johnson near the end.

Gray was irritated when a corner in the last few moments was taken short, fruitlessly, instead of being played towards the big men in the box.

“The workrate was up there, like it was in the Leicester game,” said the

caretaker manager. “Maybe we didn’t get a break in the box where the ball bounced for us.

“But we have to improve in the final third. Forest are a good side; Reid, Cox and Halford have played in the Premier League. You’ve got to have full concentration. You’ve got to come off the field mentally shattered and physically shattered - that lapse in concentration has cost us.

“Credit to Forest - they defended well when the ball do go into the box with any qualitiy.

“I was pleased with our performance in terms of workrate, application and commitment. Maybe the effort of the Leicester game

caught up with one of two of them.

“We played a lot better against Leicester, obviously. Like I said to the players, you’ve got to have a bit of ice in your head when you get into the final third.

“We’ve probably let the crowd down with our (shortage of) quality in front of goal.

“When we got in to good areas we either chose the wrong option or turned out and

didn’t take

responsibility.

“I keep saying to the players ‘I’d rather you have a go, because the crowd will support you’.

Gray’s options are reduced by the injuries to Giles Coke, Michail Antonio and Lewis Buxton, none of whom will be fit for Saturday.

He added: “We’re down to the bare bones regarding players. But the players have to go again.

“We’ve got a diffficult game at Watford on Saturday.

“They have put in a fantastic shift. I’m just disappointed with the quality on the ball.”