Manchester pop band Herman’s Hermits topped the charts with ‘I’m Into Something Good’ and Sir Alec Douglas-Home was Britain’s Prime Minister the last time Sheffield Wednesday beat Wolves at Hillsborough.
Fifty years of pain should have ended on Saturday. At the 16th time of asking, Wednesday should have broken their Wolves jinx.
They controlled the first half, creating several glorious opportunities against a team who looked short of confidence and ideas following five successive defeats.
But the Owls, not for the first time this season, lacked a cutting edge in front of goal. A proven striker remains top of boss Stuart Gray’s January wish-list.
The hosts arguably ought to have gone in front in the fifth minute when Stevie May rounded Wolves goalkeeper Carl Ikeme after pouncing on a weak back-pass by Richard Stearman. But the Scotland international’s drive lacked power, allowing Stearman to clear it off the line. That was the first of several good chances to go begging.
Royston Drenthe fizzed over a sweet volley before Glenn Loovens glanced the winger’s corner narrowly wide as the hosts dominated possession and territory.
Against the run of play, Wolves almost went ahead when Danny Graham missed a one-on-one chance, firing wide after being fed by Dominic Iorfa.
Moments later, May wasted a glorious chance to grab his sixth Wednesday goal, drilling an effort agonisingly off target after racing on to Nuhiu’s flick-on.
Gray said: “Stevie’s got to keep going. You can’t sulk. His job is to stick the ball in the net.
“I can’t fault his effort or desire. His willingness to run in behind was excellent. He made his own chances.
“It’s not just his job to score goals.
“I was reasonably happy with the performance but not the result. We have got a disappointing dressing room. We were mugged.”
Wolves were much improved after the restart and Van La Parra inexplicably steered his shot wide from close range after Keiren Westwood could only parry Kevin McDonald’s strike.
Westwood then expertly blocked Van La Parra’s close-range effort after a deft touch by Graham.
Kenny Jackett, the Wolves boss, felt van La Parra’s effort was wrongly ruled out for offside just after the hour mark.
The truth is Wednesday lost their momentum and rarely troubled goalkeeper Carl Ikeme in the second half. May fired straight at Ikeme from distance, Kieran Lee flicked a shot wide after a neat three-man move and Drenthe’s fierce strike flew narrowly off target.
Claude Dielna made an instant impact after coming on as a substitute against Blackburn last weekend. This time it was the turn of Owls old boy Leon Clarke. With his first touch, the striker turned in McDonald’s delivery with six minutes remaining to silence his former club and extend Wolves’ unbeaten run against Wednesday to nine matches.
Owls defender Tom Lees said: “We can only blame ourselves. We had a few chances where we could maybe have taken the lead. I thought in the first half we absolutely dominated. We had so many chances and could have been five or six nil up.
“We looked bright in the first half. I think we played some of our best football and put their defence under pressure. We made it uncomfortable for the two centre-backs and full-backs. We just didn’t do that last bit of putting it into the net and we got punished for it.”
Lees acknowledged that Wednesday failed to test Ikeme enough throughout the contest.
He said: “The game got a bit open in the second half. We didn’t reach the levels that we did first half and we got punished when we switched off.
“We gave them a bit too much time on the ball. It is just a suckerpunch when you feel you have played so well in the first half and created a lot of chances.”
Gray, who worked as assistant manager at Molineux, labelled Clarke’s winner “one lapse in concentration”. Liam Palmer, perhaps, could have closed down McDonald more quickly to stop the cross from going into the six-yard area but it is inexcusable that Clarke was completely unmarked in the centre to claim his second goal in Yorkshire this term.
“We have given away a few soft goals lately,” said Lees. “You score as a team and you defend as a team. It is frustrating for everyone from defenders to attackers.
“It is a massively disappointing result as it was a great chance for us to climb up the league. We’ve got to over it and move on to next week.”
Lees is acutely aware the team have to rectify their home form if they are to compete in the upper reaches of the division. Wednesdayites have seen just two victories and five goals from 11 league fixtures at Hillsborough during the 2014/15 campaign.
He said: “We don’t lie down and accept our home form. We weren’t happy afterwards and we told each other that.
“We’ve got to try and get better because we haven’t performed well enough at home. We all know that as a group. It’s something we talk about.
“We wanted to start with a high intensity and pressure game and I thought we did that but we didn’t take our chances to get on top.”
Danny Batth excelled on his return to Hillsborough. The Wolves skipper, a promotion-winner with Wednesday in 2012, led from the front and played a big part in ensuring Wednesday fired blanks for the seventh time in their last 10 outings.
Lees said: “We have to get the ball in the box more and not turn down chances to cross.
“We have got to have people breaking their necks to get into the box. We have to practice in the week putting chances away.
“We have got to be efficient when we get our chances. If we had been efficient against Wolves, we could have had six or seven.
“When we aren’t finishing, it’s up to us to keep the back door closed. We didn’t do that so we are disappointed.”
Wednesday: Westwood 7, Palmer 6, Loovens 7, Lees 7, Helan 7; Maguire 7, Lee 6 (Dielna 90), McGugan 7, Drenthe 7; Nuhiu 6 (Lavery 63, 6), May 6. Substitutes: Kirkland, Mattock, Semedo, McCabe, Maghoma.
Wolves: Ikeme 7; Iorfa 6, Batth 8, Stearman 8, Hause 7; Henry 6 (Price 88), McDonald 7, Edwards 6, Sako 7 (Rowe 90); van la Parra 7, Graham 6 (Clarke 84). Substitutes: Kuszczak, Saville, Evans, McAlinden.