MATCH REPORT: Sheffield Wednesday 1 West Brom 1

Class act: Nejc Pecnik celebrates after his goal against West Brom
Class act: Nejc Pecnik celebrates after his goal against West Brom
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WHILE Wednesday were preparing to come out for the second half on Saturday a familiar figure was driving away from the South Stand car park.

It was Michail Antonio - presumably off to see to some personal affairs, with his transfer from Reading virtually done.

On the evidence of the last two friendlies he may not be the only new full signing capable of lighting up Hillsborough when the Championship action starts.

Nejc Pecnik (it’s pronounced Nates Pechnik), playing in Antonio’s usual spot on the right flank, looks a real find.

His goal was a bit of a fluke - a diagonal effort, probably intended as a cross, from 35 yards which found the far corner at the Leppings Lane end and took a slight deflection off the top of Youssouf Mulumbu’s head.

But against Doncaster and in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with West Brom he has shown talent on the ball and vision.

He is not an exciting speed merchant like Antonio, more a big, strong, clever player, and he can play up front as well as out wide.

Maybe we could see both him and Antonio in the side eventually. Jermaine Johnson’s shooting was wayward, and the left winger was chided by Dave Jones for several times having a crack at goal when the boss thought a pass would have been the better option.

In many ways this was a typical pre-season friendly, not overloaded with excitement or goalmouth incident.

But Wednesday put in a pretty good performance against Premier League players, and Pecnik, a 26-year-old with 15 Slovenia caps, showed why he was signed on a two-year deal after only a couple of days on trial.

Jones enthused: “He’s a decent player. He’ll get better. He came to us, we threw him straight in; he’s worked hard; he’s a strong boy, with great technique, great feet, and he sees the game.

“He can play in a couple of positions - across there (on the wing) or in behind (as a second striker), as we did with him near the end. He’s a full international. You don’t get the caps he’s got and play where he’s been if you’re a poor player.

“He’s a good age. We’re really delighted with him, He’s a super kid, he really is. He’s settled in really well - that’s difficult sometimes when players come in.”

Jones pointed out that Antonio will have competition, from Pecnik and Johnson, and he added: “I’m still trying to bring another (wide man) in. We want competiton all the way through.”

Pecnik arrived as a free agent, having terminated his contract with Portuguese club Nacional, where there was a financial crisis and he had not been paid for two months. He has also played for Slovenia against England at Wembley, and plied his trade with clubs in the Czech Republic and Russia.

He said: “I am happy that I am here to get an opportunity to play in the Championship. I have scored many goals from distance. That (Saturday’s effort) was a little luck.” He rates his form as “okay”, saying: “We still have two weeks. We will get better and better.”

But whether Marlon Harewood will still be at the club come the start of the season must be open to doubt. Again he was taken off fairly early, and replaced by Chris O’Grady.

Harewood did not have a bad game, though, as with most colleagues, he did not do anything that was really eye-catching, and he and the lively Chris Maguire did not find it easy against top-flight centre-halves Gareth McAuley and Jonas Olsson.

Sub trialist Marek Jarolim, a 28-year-old from Czech club Baumit Jablonec, made some positive runs and did basic things okay after replacing Chris Lines, who brought a hush to the ground when he lay motionless in the centre circle. Lines had been playing well.

But he collapsed to the ground after playing a simple square ball and was soon carried off.

The immediate fear was that he had damaged his cruciate ligaments.

The diagnosis of a groin injury sounds less serious, but it still seems likely that he will miss the start of the season - a blow for him and the club.

There was calm defending from Miguel Llera and the classy Anthony Gardner, and good goalkeeping from Chris Kirkland, without him ever having to do anything spectacular.

Kirkland was rooted and possible unsighted for the late equaliser when Peter Odemwingie smacked the best shot of the afternoon into the bottom corner from 30 yards.

Lewis Buxton came through his first outing of the summer, there was some typically boisterous play from Reda Johnson, and, just like at Doncaster, Wednesday put together some constructive stuff without finding a razor sharp cutting edge.

The game was competitive enough, even ill-tempered on a few occasions.

There would have been some cards produced if it had been a league match; local ref Michael Naylor called captains Olsson and Jose Semedo together in the 78th minute and was no doubt asking them to tell their teams to cool it.

Jones said: “It was a solid performance. We’re pleased with the work-out and the things we tried to do.

“We were up against a good side who put us under pressure in certain areas and shift the ball quickly in the final third.

“Once we sorted that out, it was pretty even in the first half; the second half got bitty because we were making subsititutions.”

More changes to the starting line-up are likely at Kilmarnock on Wednesday as Jones hones his team for next Monday’s Capital One Cup match.

“Our preparation now is for the Oldham game,” he confirmed.

OWLS: Kirkland, Buxton (Mattock 65), Llera, Gardner, R Johnson, Pecnik, Semedo, Lines (Jarolim 55), J Johnson, Harewood (O’Grady 53), Maguire (M Jones 88). Unused subs: Bywater, Beevers, Prutton, Amado, Larrea.

WBA: Foster, Reyes (Hurst 79), Olsson, McAuley, Ridgewell, Odemwingie, Mulumbu, Dorrans (Cox 79), Morrison (Yacob 65), Gera (Thomas 75), Long (Fortune 79). Unused: Myhill, Jones, El Ghanassy, Tamas.