Owls crowd targets Irvine

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GOALS from new boys Gary Madine and Reda Johnson salvaged a point for the Owls against a nine-man Yeovil side in a dramatic clash at Hillsborough last night.

The Owls trailed twice to 11 men and missed a twice-taken penalty after two sendings-off then narrowly failed to snatch a much-needed win during six minutes of stoppage time.

They piled on pressure after Yeovil defenders Luke Ayling and Adam Virgo were dismissed within five minutes of each other during the second half.

Giles Coke scored from the spot kick awarded for Virgo’s offence, but it had to be retaken, and he shot over the bar.

Madine, on his home debut, scored his first goal for the club in the first half after the visitors took an early lead.

Wednesday were 2-1 down when the red-card drama erupted, and Reda Johnson hit a late equaliser, which was followed by close shaves for the visitors.

But a point was not enough to satisfy many fans, and there some anti Alan Irvine chants as his team’s promotion challenge continued to falter.

Irvine made six changes to the side that started the Orient match.

In the first minute the Owls were tested by the sort of inswinging right-side free kick from which Orient scored with a free header; this one was headed away by Spurr at the far post.

Then the Owls applied early pressure, with Gary Teale a threat down the right, and were stopped by several fouls.

They were also getting fine backing from the fans who took advantage of a “home away day” offer to sit in the Upper West Stand, normally reserved for visiting fans.

Yeovil’s small following were in the lower section and celebrated in the 15th minute.

Dean Bowditch broke away into space behind Spurr and cut inside a challenge by the covering Michael Morrison.

As the left winger shot he was tackled by Spurr; the ball looped into the air off the defender and dropped into the net.

A stunned home crowd were almost lifted eight minutes later. A lovely move involved Potter, Mellor and Gary Madine, who slid a pass to Teale on his right and the winger’s side-footed shot hit the outside of the near post.

Spurr was the architect of the equaliser. His cross went into the air off the top of a defender’s head and dropped at the far post for Madine to leap and head home from seven yards.

In first-half stoppage time a header by Mellor from a Teale free kick was held by Stephen Henderson.

Wednesday’s bad start to the first half was matched by their opening to the second.

A little burst of Yeovil pressure forced a right-side corner; Irvine had warned that the Glovers were a threat at set pieces, and so it proved.

The ball was delivered fast and high and centre half Paul Huntington jumped best in a crowded box to bullet a header into the roof of the net, in the 57th minute.

The Owls were handed a possible lifeline when Ayling’s sending-off in the 64th minute for his second booking - a foul on Teale - began a madcap seven-minute spell.

Henderson saved from Owls sub Paul Heffernan, touching his shot around the post.

Potter played a through ball to Jermaine Johnson whose cross to the far post was met by Yeovil sub Adam Virgo, who had been on the field for only two minutes.

The defender was shown the red card either for a push or handball on the line.

Coke slammed the resulting penalty into Henderson’s top right hand corner as the keeper went the right way.

But the spot-kick had to be retaken because of encroachment, and this time Coke shot into the Kop.

Faint chants demanding the axe for Irvine came from the North and Upper West stands.

But home fans erupted in when their team equalised in the 86th minute.

Potter had a shot well saved, and Henderson also blocked an effort from the follow-up, but the ball ran loose for Reda Johnson to slot home from close range.

Henderson made a brilliant one-handed save from Jermaine Johnson at his near post in the 89th minute.

In the first of six added minutes Madine headed a far-post cross from Jermaine Johnson and Henderson made a fantastic stop on the line.

Johnson volleyed inches past the top corner. And the match ended in anti-climax for home fans.

OWLS: Weaver 7; Spurr 7, M Morrison 7 (Sedgwick 87), R Johnson 7, Reynolds 7 (C Morrison 75); J Johnson 6, Potter 6, Coke 6, Teale 7 (Heffernan 67, 6); Madine 7, Mellor 6. Subs: Jameson, Jones, Beevers, O’Connor.

YEOVIL: Henderson 9; Ayling 6, Huntington 7, Ehmer 7, Smith 7; Welsh 6, Upson 6, Wotton 6, Bowditch 7; Johnson 6, A Williams 6. Subs: Martin, S Williams, Russell, Calver, Gibson, Baggridge.

Goals: Bowditch (15), Madine (36), Huntington (57), R Johnson (86).

Ref: Trevor Kettle (Berks).

Bookings: Coke (53), Ayling (53), Reynolds (57), Henderson (70), Johnson (75). Sent off: Ayling (64), Virgo (69).

Attendance: 16,618.