Rochdale 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0: Match Report

Rochdale v Sheffield Wednesday.....Danny Batth's header inches over the Dale bar
Rochdale v Sheffield Wednesday.....Danny Batth's header inches over the Dale bar
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AS IF to illuminate the beginning of the Dave Jones era, a double rainbow appeared behind sunlit Spotland half an hour before kick-off.

Jones and Milan Mandaric took their places in the stand a little later and sat together to witness a reasonably bright start to the new manager’s reign.

Rochdale v Sheffield Wednesday.....Owls caretaker boss Chris Evans

Rochdale v Sheffield Wednesday.....Owls caretaker boss Chris Evans

It could be said that Wednesday were lucky because Rochdale missed a penalty, but probably the award should not have been given, and the Owls showed spirit, effort and organisation in plenty.

They also made it two clean sheets in a row.

One shortcoming has become familiar: a lack of clinical work in and around the opposition’s box.

Wednesday have scored only two goals in their last five league games, though, as in several recent ones, there were many occasions on Saturday when they seemed only a whisker away from getting it right.

Whether it was because of a wayward finish, or sound defending, or an unlucky break, the ball would not go in - and perhaps they should have had a penalty in stoppage time when Ryan Lowe went down in a goalmouth scramble.

The penalising of Rob Jones for his seemingly ball-winning challenge on midfield player Jason Kennedy was harsh, so justice was done when Dale captain Gary Jones hit the post and fears of a Chesterfield-like defeat for Wednesday were banished.

Fans appeared to heed Dave Jones’s call for them to support him and the team: the backing for the players from around 3,000 followers was as usual.

There was one chant of “there’s only one Gary Megson” from some of them, and a chant to acknowledge Chris Evans, who, along with coach Neil

Thompson, had clearly prepared the team well and helped to make sure that the turmoil of the previous week did not shatter the team ethos.

Evans’ recall of Gary Madine was rewarded by the striker beginning to look something like his old self.

Julian Bennett made a decent stab at replacing Reda Johnson, who had a tight hamstring after playing in midweek for Benin against Ethiopia.

Jose Semedo was top man for a powerhouse show in midfield.

Michail Antonio showed he could be a star, if he adds composure in his crossing and shooting to the pacy and powerful running that at times made him as exciting as Jermaine Johnson.

With Dave Jones having given himself a watching brief before he took up the reins fully, and with Evans handed the post-match press conference duty, it was time for the caretaker boss to sum up.

First of all, he paid tribute to the players’ character and endeavour: “When changes are made above you, it’s how you react to it. I told them to do this for their families, for us as a group, for the 3,000 Wednesday fans who were watching, and for the 10,000 who have bought season-tickets because they have belief in these players and a bright future.

“I feel great affinity with the supporters. I was delighted that they sang my name.

“It would be remiss of me not to pay tribute to Gary Megson for the work he has done at Sheffield Wednesday.

“He is a fan, he played for the club, his father was a legend. I have worked with him for five years and hold him in the highest esteem.

“He has a bright future, like his past, and his services will be much sought after.

“Equally, I wish Dave Jones well.

“He addressed the players before the game. After the game, after I had addressed the players, it was only proper that Dave said a few words, which he did.

“He gave them a lot of praise. He thought there was a lot in that dressing room to be pleased about.

“I’m sure he’ll have his own ideas, and rightly so. Hopefully the performance gave him food for thought.

“We now have two home games at home, where we’ve beeen decent, and hopefully we’ll follow on from the Sheffield United game when we won and put in a really good shift.

“It was a good opportunity for Dave to come into. It’s the start of a new era.”

Jones has said he has no immediate plans to make staff changes.

Evans played down the issue of his own future: “The last few days haven’t been about me; it’s been about the players and preparing for this game.

“Graham Taylor at Wolves taught me that you don’t make rash decisions. You reflect calmly.

“I’ll take time to consider my position.”

He also saluted coach Neil Thompson, goalkeeping coach Andy Rhodes and physio Paul Smith: “They’re terrific, talented people.

“And I cannot thank the supporters enough. They are fantastic.”

Now it’s over to Jones for tomorrow’s home game against Bury.

Arron Jameson was on the bench because Nicky Weaver was unwell and Richard O’Donnell is out on loan at Macclesfield.