SHEFFIELD Wednesday lost for the sixth time in a row with a defeat at Wolves.
Wednesdays shortage of full backs was highlighted by the surprising sight of Jermaine Johnson starting at right back.
He had filled the role previously in his Owls career and was pressed into service once more today with Buxton, Lee and Reda Johnson all injured and
Joe Mattock switching to left back.
Another surprise was a job for Chris O’Grady on the left flank as Dave Jones utilised a 4-1-4-1 formation which had Semedo in front of the back four and Jay Bothroyd, playing against a former club, upfront on his own.
O’Grady and Antonio looked to support the striker going forward and did so in a bright start for the Owls who may have had a penalty in the first minute.
Antonio reached a flick on from Bothroyd and seemed to be clipped by left back Ward. The referee had a good look at it but waved play on. Antonio’s next raid was down the middle and he slipped a ball to O’Grady on his left. O’Grady shot but hit the side netting.
Antonio again did well, this time with a typical run down the right, to deliver a near post cross where O’Grady threw himself into a diving header but just couldn’t get enough contact.
Wednesday passed the ball confidently and at a decent tempo and took the game to Wolves, not looking at all like a side who had lost five games in a row.
All in all it was a very promising start by the Owls. That lead to pressure and foul on Semedo bang on the edge of the box, after much preparation, Bothroyd’s touch to Pecnik who then rolled it to Barkley but the shot was way off target.
Johnson was then penalised for bringing down Ebanks-Blake as Wolves tried to break away down the inside channel. The free kick was given 22 yards out with the right back being booked for the challenge. While the referee was still in the box and pushing the wall back with his back to the ball, Sako ridiculously took the free kick before anyone was ready and was booked but once the free kick was retaken, Sako hammered the free kick powerfully into the bottom corner in the 43rd minute - a cruel blow for Wednesday who did not deserve to be behind.
Good defending by Mattock snuffed out Peszko when the ball came in from the left through Sako but the substitute winger did run free a few moments free, cutting in from the right and putting a chance across the goal. Pecnik was replaced by Mayor in the 67th minute.
Johnson made a fine challenge in the box after the ball was played in following a loss of possession by Gardner after he tried to run forward with the ball just outside the area.
Another good tackle by Mattock stopped Darren Ward and conceded a corner. Wolves were having more possession than they had enjoyed in the first half and were looking more comfortable whilst the Owls found it harder to find a spark and any penetration going forward.
As well as bringing on Mayor, Bothroyd was replaced in the 76th minute by Rodri. The substitute went up front and there was a more central role for O’Grady. Mayor moved to the right of midfield and Antonio switched to the left. A great diagonal ball from Barkley found Antonio running forward
to chest the ball down and go for goal. He was outnumbered by defenders as he let fly from outside the box the ball was blocked, fell to Rodri who’s attempts at trickery came to grief against a wall of old gold shirts.
In the second of four added minutes, striker Doyle was taken off and defender Danny Batth was sent on with Wolves no doubt trying to make sure they protected their lead. Batth took up a position in front of the back four in his first Championship action of the season.
Wolves: Ikeme, Foley, Johnson, Berra, Ward, Henry, Doumbia, Sako, Boukari, Doyle, Ebanks-Blake. Subs: De Vries, Edwards, Stearman, Peszko, Sigurdarson, Batth, Davis.
Sheffield Wednesday: Kirkland, Johnson (J), Taylor, Gardner, Mattock, Antonio, Barkley, Semedo, Pecnik, O’Grady, Bothroyd. Subs: Bywater, Jones, Llera, Rodri, Corry, Mayor, Madine.
Referee: Simon Hooper, Wiltshire