JAMES O’Connor marked his recall to the Wednesday side as captain last night by scoring the winner as the Owls edged past a 10-man Blackpool outfit 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out.
Keeper Richard O’Donnell played his part by saving the Seasider’s opening spot kick, with the visitors having forced extra time and penalties despite having centre half Ashley Eastham sent off in the 78th minute.
In the penalty showdown, O’Donnell denied Billy Clarke, Liam Palmer scored, Neal Eardley shot over the bar, Jon Otsemobor netted, Ludovic Sylvestre succeeded, Clinton Morrison and Miguel Liera made no mistake, and O’Connor fiinished this Carling Cup tie off by driving the ball straight down the middle.
Gary Madine was the only player in the two 11s who had started his club’s previous League game.
But it was a big night for loan signing Danny Uchechi, who began the game on the right side of a five-man Owls midfield, and academy graduate Cecil Nyoni, aged 18, who made his debut in a more central midfield role.
Considering that this was a makeshift side, Wednesday produced some promising football in the early stages, and Jon Otsemobor showed some flashes of class.
A well-hit effort by Nyoni was blocked in the box, and a shot by Madine suffered the same fate.
In the 39th minute Eardley sweetly struck from the edge of the box and saw the ball deflected for a corner off Mark Beevers.
The first real chance came during one minute of first-half stoppage time, when striker Craig Sutherland dragged a close-range shot past O’Donnell’s left-hand post.
Gary Megson, with tomorrow’s game at Bournemouth in mind, would not wish to overtax Madine so it was no surprise when he was replaced by Clinton Morrison at half time.
O’Connor was pushed into a more forward position to give Morrison support. ittle had been seen of Uchechi before he was taken off in the 61st minute.
Youngster Matt Tumilty, who played in the friendly at Barnsley, came on at right back for a home debut and Otsemobor moved forward to the right side of midfield.
Sutherland wasted one chance then an even better one when he provided more of a back pass towards the keeper than a shot, from an unmarked position.
Just before that, Daniel Jones limped off and made way for Liam Palmer on the left side of midfield..
Right back Chris Basham drove a half-chance wide from 16 yards.
But Blackpool missed an absolute sitter in the 76th minute. Forward Tom Ince, son of Paul Ince, crossed low from the left; Clarke had virtually an open goal but smacked the ball against an advertising board to O’Donnell’s left.
Two minutes later Ashley Eastham lunged into a bad tackle on Reynolds. who was flattened but fortunately not badly hurt, and the centre half was sent off.
Wednesday could have had a penalty when Morrison seemed to be hauled down by sub Miguel Liera, and the Owls created their best opening in the 87th minute.
Morrison played a short ball to Coke, who from the edge of the box sidefooted straight at the keeper.
Megson sent Johnson up front alongside Morrison in a late bid to force a breakthrough and kept it that way in extra time, with Tumilty on the right side of midfield, Palmer at right back, and Otsemobor at centre half.
Nyoni went close in the second period after getting a touch to a Reynolds cross but Blackpool sub Tom Barkhuizen went closer, with O’Donnell making a splendid save by touching his shot on to the bar.
OWLS: O’Donnell 7, Otsemobor 7, R Johnson 7, Beevers 7, Reynolds 7, Uchechi 6 (Tumilty 61, 6), Coke 6, O’Connor 8, Nyoni 7, D Jones 6 (Palmer 71, 7), Madine 7 (Morrison ht 7). Unused subs: Weaver, Batth, Semedo, Prutton.
SEASIDERS: Halstead 7, Basham 7 (Barkhuizen 83, 6), Eastham 6, Hill 6, Harris 7, Sylvestre 7, Martinez 6, Eardley 8, Clarke 7, Sutherland 6 (Bruna 91, 6), Ince 7(Liera 83, 7). Unused subs: Bignot, Bruna, Tomsett, Djordjic, Kettings.
Ref: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne and Wear).
Bookings: Reynolds (31) foul, Tumilty (77) foul, Coke (102) foul, Clarke (112) unsporting behaviour.
Sending-off: Eastham (78) serious foul play.