WEDNESDAY deepened Gary Megson’s woe by crashing to a fourth successive home defeat on the day he was landed with an FA charge.
The Owls manager had seen last night’s game as far more important than the fall-out from his sending-off at Dagenham, which has put him in the dock for “improper conduct.”
But his team served up a typically dismal Hillsborough show in front of the lowest League crowd of the season, 14,797.
Many fans left after the Owls were killed off by a terrific late goal, having seen their team concede in only the third minute, equalise swiftly through Rob Jones, but soon go behind again and always struggle to create anything.
The loss of Jones to an injury in the first half was another blow.
Megson made four changes and the mid-table Bees made seven ahead of their Wembley date with Carlisle in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final on Sunday, nine days after they beat the Cumbrians 2-1 in the League.
There were recalls for Tommy Spurr, Lewis Buxton, Paul Heffernan and fit-again Isaiah Osbourne, while Tommy Miller, Michael Morrison, Mark Reynolds and Chris Sedgwick missed out. Gary Teale took over from Miller as captain and started on the left wing, with Darren Potter playing fairly narrow on the opposite side and Heffernan up front with Gary Madine in a 4-4-2.
Megson had called for a flying start but Wednesday had the winds taken out of their sails by an all-too-simple goal in front of the Kop in the third minute.
Right winger Nathan Byrne delivered a peach of a right-side corner to the edge of the six-yard box and right back Michael Spillane, virtually unchallenged, steamed in to power a header into the roof of the net. But the Owls were level nine minutes later with a similar goal. Teale sent a left-wing corner to the near post-area and Jones, his head bandaged after he had six stitches on Saturday, headed home from six yards for his first goal for the club.
Still before Wednesday could really get their teeth into the contest they fell behind again, in the 18th minute.
After possession was lost deep in their half, a heavy touch by Jones on the edge of the box knocked the ball to Lewis Grabbam.
The striker nipped down the right to the byline chipped the ball over Richard O’Donnell to the far post where on-loan Leicester forward Jeffrey Schlupp headed his third goal in two games.
Another setback came five minutes later. Jones, who had taken a knock at a corner, was helped down the tunnel looking groggy and soon replaced by Jon Otsemobor, who was getting his first action since he tore a calf at Huddersfield on January 3.
The sub went to right back while Buxton switched to centre half.
Then it was a dire remainder of the half for the Owls and their fans.
The team seemed unable to string passes together and created nothing.
It was far removed from the high-tempo, slick football for which the manager had been hoping.
The only consolation was that Brentford posed no further threats and Wednesday were still in the game.
But it could have become 3-1 in the 46th minute. Grabbam twice beat Buxton in a clever run and hit a shot that was blocked.
Then a Madine cross was acrobatically beaten away by the keeper, and a Teale effort from the loose ball was cleared from the goalmouth - enough to bring a roar of support from home fans desperate for something to cheer.
There were groans, however, after Osbourne hoisted a shot into the Kop after Spurr pulled the back to the edge of the box.
Megson had refrained from making substitutions at half time, but, when no profound change in the game’s pattern followed, he took off Potter and Heffernan in the 56th minute and sent on Jermaine Johnson and Clinton Morrison.
Johnson was quick to inject a bit of pace and strike a few shots: two off target, one blocked when it looked on target.
A rare moment of real creativity followed, when Spurr crossed, Morrison chested the ball down, and Madine half-volleyed just wide from 18 yards.
Wednesday had most of the possession in this half but were finding it hard to break down a Bees team who defended well.
Johnson unlocked them with a burst down the left to go past his marker and fire an effort past the far post.
But the Owls were killed off by a superb strike in the 82nd minute.
From a free kick 23 yards out, sub Sammy Saunders whipped an unstoppable right-foot drive around the wall and into O’Donnell’s left-hand corner.
There was no coming back from that.
OWLS: O’Donnell 7; Buxton 7, Batth 7, R Jones 6 (Otsemobor 25, 6), Spurr 7; Osbourne 6, O’Brien 6, Potter 6 (J
Johnson 56, 7), Teale 6; Heffernan 6 (C Morrison 56, 6), Madine 6. Unused subs: Nicholls, M Morrison, Miller, Sedgwick.
BEES: Carson 7; Spillane 7, Balkenstein 7, Osborne 6, Woodman 6; Byrne 6, O’Connor 6 (Tudur Jones 69, 6), Bean 6, Wood 6 (Saunders 63, 6); Schlupp 6 (Bignall ht, 6), Grabbam 7. Unused subs: Moore, Weston, Wright, Legge.
Goals: Goals: Spillane (3), Jones (12), Schlupp (18), Saunders (82)
Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne and Wear).