Owls FT: Sheffield Wednesday 3 Blackburn Rovers 3

Floral tribute at Leppings Lane
Floral tribute at Leppings Lane
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Sheffield Wednesday this afternoon displayed an unheralded tribute to the Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

They have installed 96 new white seats in the front two rows behind the Leppings Lane goal - and each today bore a red rose with a card showing the name of a victim of the tragedy.

Sheffield Wednesday's Michail Antonio evades Blackburn's Lee Williamson -Pic by: Richard Parkes

Sheffield Wednesday's Michail Antonio evades Blackburn's Lee Williamson -Pic by: Richard Parkes

The 25th anniversary of the disaster saw games across the country kick off seven minutes late and be preceded by a minute’s silence.

Hillsborough fell silent as soon as the teams lined up on the rim of the centre circle, Wednesday on one side, Blackburn on the other, even before the referee’s whistle sounded.

The silence was acutely observed and was followed by applause as two officials walked from the centre of the pitch to lay wreaths on the ground behind the Leppings End goal.

The action began with the Owls facing the Kop end and showing once again a focus on midfield strength.

Nuhiu was on his own up front; Hutchinson protected the back four; Palmer had a central midfield role, and Antonio and Maguire looked to get foward on the left and right flanks respectively.

After some innocuous sparring, Wednesday fell behind in the 15th minute thanks to a spot of defending far worse than anything they produced in the Forest goals that disappointed Stuart Gray.

A simple ball was hoisted into the box and knocked down towards goal. Players seemed to get in each other’s way and nobody cleared it, so the ball rolled to the waiting RHODES, who from a few yards out accepted the easiest of chances and tapped in his 24th goal of the season.

It seemed to provoke a response, with the Owls pressing and Antonio playing a short forward pass to create a clear opportunity for Nuhiu, whose blast from around 12 yards was well block by Robinson.

Wednesday went on to earn a deserved equaliser.

A left-side cross by Mattock was headed back across goal by Buxton, and Antonio’s header was touched over the bar by Robinson - a first-class save by the ex-England keeper. Iit was only a reprieve. Maguire delivered the corner from the left, there was the merest of flick-ons at the near post, and BUXTON forced the ball home at the far post, in the 30th minute.

The same Maguire-Buxton link on a corner brought the second goal at Forest.

But Wednesday were level for only six minutes. CONWAY had a pop from around 25 yards and found the bottom corner, against the run of play.

Nuhiu headed down a Mattock cross invitingly to Lee, who swung at the ball and missed; Palmer did not, but his effort was blocked.

Away went Rovers on the counter-attack, and Hutchinson got back to make a great tackle on Gestede after the striker had raced away from Llera.

But the visitors struck again in the 42nd minute. Lowe played a fine cross from the right to far post, and right back KEANE was up there to head into Kirkland’s bottom right-hand corner.

Half-time re-runs of Blackburn’s first goal showed that Llera, possibly distracted by Hutchinson right in front of him, missed the ball completely in trying to clear.

Wednesday could afford no more gifts, and Gray sought greater firepower by putting Maguire closer to Nuhiu and switching Palmer right and Antonio left. Then in the 59th minute, Lavery and Helan took over from Palmer and Mattock. Straightaway the Owls looked like going 4-1 down; Rhodes got in behind them but Kirkland pulled off a block. A mis-hit cross by Antonio stretched Robinson and came back off the bar to present Lavery, who was now the one supporting Nuhiu, with a 66th minute chance: he miscued his volley.

The Owls pulled one back in the 71st minute: Antonio made a great run, Robinson could not hold his low cross and NUHIU slid the loose ball home. Wednesday, a minute after their second goal, had a reasonable shout for a penalty when Lee seemed to be hauled down by Lowe.

In the fifth minute of stoppage time Helan launched the ball forward, Llera had a shot blocked and NUHIU hooked the ball into the roof of the net. With the last attack of the game, a Robinson save denied Nuhiu a sensational hat-trick, and Lavery hit the rebound over the bar.

What a thrilling finish.