DAVE Jones came up with a good line when it was suggested that a run of three games without a goal provided evidence that the Owls need a striker as they hunt for players this month:
“When there’s a tile missing from your roof, you don’t go for a plumber do you?”
Leaks of the defensive kind have not been a profound problem lately, as shown by the haul of five clean sheets in the last six games.
But time and again Wednesday’s lack of goal flow has been illustrated.
It looked as if they were improving in this respect, in the wins against Barnsley, Charlton and Bolton, but the problem has kept resurfacing this season, and during the last three games, against Huddersfield, Burnley and MK Dons, they have struggled to score.
Jones is hoping to address this issue in this month’s transfer window.
The clean sheet was a consolation on Saturday - as is the fact that the Owls are still in the FA Cup.
“If you’re not going to win it, don’t lose it,” says Jones. “That’s the important thing.
“You still have a chance. If you go out, then you feel a lot worse than you do now.
“We’re disappointed but we have another crack at it.
“You have to take the positives. It’s a clean sheet; we can build on that.
“But we need to score goals. In open play we don’t look like we’re going to do that, at the moment. We just have to keep working at it.
“They [MK Dons] didn’t look like scoring; they had a lot of the ball, but in their half, where it’s not going to hurt you if you do things right.”
“We want to do better, but we’re still in the tie. That’s the important thing.”
In an effort to make a difference up front, Jones turned to Chris Maguire, the striker whose only three previous starts for the club were in the Capital One Cup and who was about to join Portsmouth on loan when he injured a knee.
Fit again, he looked lively in the early stages, though a couple of his passes perhaps betrayed an understandable touch of rustiness, and in Jones’ words he ran out of steam in the second half.
“He looked okay,” reflected the manager. “He was injured a long time and he’s been pushing in training; in the first half he was sharp and bright. Training is so different to playing. It was difficult for him.”
Wednesday rested Anthony Gardner and gave Martin Taylor a game. With Chris Kirkland rested and feeling a deadleg, there was no point in playing him when another capable keeper, Stephen Bywater, could do with an outing.
It was hard to tell from the South Stand whether or not Bywater got a touch to the shot of the match, by Shaun Williams. But the giving of a corner and the pats on the back from teammates for the keeper told the story.
“Stephen tells me it was a save,” said Jones. “If it is, he’s worked really hard in training to get that, so I’m really pleased for him.”
Another solid game for Joe Mattock, with Reda Johnson not risked, was another positive, and Rhys McCabe tried to get Wednesday going with his passing and set-pieces, but really there were too few bright spots in a largely dull match.
In the first half, Madamy Sidibe missed an early
chance with his header from a Miguel Llera free-kick; Michail Antonio might have scored had his shot not been deflected and been sent dipping over the bar; and a Kieran Lee shot was easy for the keeper.
In the second half, Sidibe could have gone for goal or set up a chance for Antonio but did neither; and with Wednesday continuing to pose little threat, Jones first replaced Sidibe with Madine, then
took off Maguire, switched Antonio up front and sent on Jermaine Johnson to the left wing, to no avail.
Wednsday ended up fighting to make sure they did not lose, in a vibrant little spell for the Dons near the end, in which Bywater made his save, and Williams, in the 85th minute, side-footed a shot against a post.
MK Dons were pretty much what had to be expected in view of Wednesday’s tussles with them last season: a tidy, well -organised side. Ryan Lowe was kept quiet.
Dons’ pleasure in earning a replay was heightened by the fact that they were without five injured first-teamers.
Manager Karl Robinson had three 16-year-olds among only five subs.
The Dons boss said: “This is a club who deserved their promotion - but I think we deserved to win. I thought we were very good. To come to this wonderful stadium steeped in history and put in a performance like that was nice to see.
“Dave Jones is someone I respect, with what he has done in his career. We tried to conduct ourselves in a classy way against an experienced manager and wonderful club, and that’s what we’ve done.”