Match report: Sheffield Wednesday 1 Barnsley 0

Sheffield Wednesday's Chris Maguire hits the injury time winner against Barnsley. Pic: Steve Ellis.
Sheffield Wednesday's Chris Maguire hits the injury time winner against Barnsley. Pic: Steve Ellis.
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What intense emotion football can stir. Wild celebrations for Wednesday, heartbreak for Barnsley - that was the potent mix in one of the most dramatic of Yorkshire derbies.

In its own, different way, it was just as extraordinary as the Owls’ 6-0 thrashing of Leeds.

Not free-flowing, goalscoring football against a depleted side this time; but three sendings-off, a winner in the seventh minute of stoppage time,a sprinkling of controversy and the effect of the result made it just as memorable.

With Wednesday now in the lofty position of 17th, will these three points turn out to be as significant as last season’s 1-0 win at Oakwell, which proved to be a turning point in a survival fight?

The scorer then was Chris O’Grady, but on Saturday it was hard to decide who deserved the most sympathy: O’Grady, taken off because a midfield sub was needed to replace the red-carded Emmanuel Frimpong, or a slightly hoarse Danny Wilson, doing a good job of keeping his emotions in check at the post-match press conference, his team having come so close to earning some reward.

You would not expect the managers to agree on everything and they did not.

What must be beyond argument is that this tumultuous contest was settled by a moment of quality, very late though it was.

There was only one thought in Chris Maguire’s mind when Jose Semedo passed the ball to him, after Jim O’Brien had given it away. The Scot let fly from 25 yards and hit the bottom corner - his fifth goal in eight games and one of the most thrilling of his career. “It’s a great feeling to have scored it right at the end,” he said.

It was also a strange contest. Wednesday started the brighter, but then Barnsley had near-misses. Semedo and Chris Kirkland blocked and saved from Nick Proschwiz and Miguel Llera cleared a header from Peter Ramage.

Two off-target headers by Atdhe Nuhiu, one each side of Frimpong’s 31st-minute dismissal, were the best that Wednesday could manage in this period, and Kirkland kept out a Dale Jennings shot in first-half stoppage time.

Frimpong paid for two yellow-card fouls on Maguire in the space of seven minutes, after being warned earlier. So his debut was torrid, but that of his Arsenal colleague, Benik Afobe, was very promising.

The striker showed pace and decent passing and positional play. He faded in the second half, almost certainly because of his lack of league match play, so was taken off.

Against opposition who defended diligently with two banks of four, Wednesday struggled to find a way through. They were hasty in their keenness to score and lacked composure in possession, or the final ball was wayward.

When Kieran Lee did hit the target, in the second half, Luke Steele clawed the shot away from the top corner.

The first whiff of controversy came when Maguire, unjustly booked at Burnley a fortnight earlier when he should have had a penalty, received the same treatment, much to his annoyance and Gray’s.

“There’s no way Chris has dived; it’s not a penalty but there was contact,” said the manager.

Said the forward: “I can’t believe it. I said to the ref ‘I’m not looking for a penalty’. I went to go into the tackle and pulled out. I slipped; it was just the contact.”

Barnsley’s Jack Hunt was cautioned for diving just after that. Danny Wilson judged that in all there were six cases of “simulation” but that only two were punished.

Maguire thought that Jacob Mellis dived in the “penalty” incident that annoyed the Reds manager when it was 10 a side. The midfielder cut inside Miguel Llera and went down. At first sight I suspected it was a foul, too, but having seen it again I do not think there was contact.

Just after that Mellis launched himself into a challenge on Jacques Maghoma. He did no real damage but both feet were off the floor.

So, in the first minute of stoppage time, after the board had shown five extra, Barnsley were down to nine men, after Owls sub Jermaine Johnson had evened the numbers by getting himself sent off in the 80th minute for a high challenge on Brek Shea.

Gray said: “I don’t think JJ had the intent but he caught the boy. It (the card) was thoroughly deserved. Their boy in the first half, they looked like two yellow-card challenges. With the last sending-off, it looked like the intent ...”

Wilson saw it differently: “I think the officials have got to look at their performances. To have three sent off ... I don’t think there was a bad tackle in the game.” He thought Frimpong and Johnson were just naive - “a winger’s tackle” was his view of JJ’s offence - and regarded Mellis’s reaction as frustration caused by the “penalty” incident.

Gray said: “I don’t want to get into an argument about penalties, because we don’t get them.”

Wilson admitted: “I feel I have every right to feel aggrieved, I’m full of emotion. Our lads should be proud.”

Gray, who jumped into the air like everyone on the Owls bench after the goal went in, reflected: “We had a lot of possession but we didn’t pepper the goal enough. But you keep going to the final whistle, and that’s what we did.”