Sheffield Wednesday 1 Sunderland 1: Jones equaliser and Owls batter Black Cats in late flurry

David Jones' second half equaliser for Wednesday. Photo: Steve Ellis
David Jones' second half equaliser for Wednesday. Photo: Steve Ellis
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It is victories Carlos Carvalhal and Wednesday require to silence the moaners and groaners at Hillsborough.

Three matches into the new Championship season and the Owls’ expensively assembled team are still searching for a first league win.

But last year’s play-off semi-finalists demonstrated their battling qualities yet again as they came from behind for the second successive home match to secure a point.

Wednesday could have felt sorry for themselves after Sunderland, looking to make an instant return to the Premier League, went ahead early on through George Honeyman.

However, the Owls refused to give in and David Jones’ spectacular 70th minute thunderbolt eased some of the pressure on Carvalhal.

Wednesday put Sunderland under the cosh in the closing stages, throwing everything at Simon Grayson’s team. Gary Hooper came close to snatching all three points for the Owls as he struck the crossbar but that would have been harsh on the Black Cats, who arguably should have been out of sight after dominating the first half.

The result should not paper over all of the cracks. It was an unconvincing display at times against a well-organised, well-drilled Sunderland side.

And there remains big question marks over Fernando Forestieri’s future after Carvalhal elected to leave him out of the matchday squad for the second match running and some of the side’s defending left a lot to be desired. Forestieri was involved in a training ground bust-up with Sam Winnall last weekend and has been dealt with internally by the Owls.

Two of Carvalhal’s three changes were enforced. Glenn Loovens failed to shrug off the back problem he suffered against Queens Park Rangers and Sam Hutchinson (knee) also missed out.

With Loovens sidelined, Daniel Pudil partnered Tom Lees at centre-back. Jones and Almen Abdi returned to midfield while Sam Winnall was preferred to Jordan Rhodes up front.

Less than quarter of an hour before kick-off, the Owls confirmed the signing of Frederico Venancio on loan from Vitoria Setubal until the end of the season. His arrival increases their options at centre-half.

But the former Portugal Under-21 international must have been questioning the wisdom of his move after Wednesday’s shoddy, shambolic defending for Honeyman’s fourth minute strike.

James Vaughan easily slipped in Aiden McGeady down the left wing, Keiren Westwood rashly charged off his line to close down the angle but the winger squared for Honeyman, who controlled the ball expertly before drilling home.

It was a nightmare start for Wednesday and an uncharacteristic error of judgement by Black Cats old boy Westwood, who looked nervy throughout the opening 45 minutes.

Buoyed after back-to-back away victories on the road, Sunderland continued to cause problems to the Owls’ makeshift backline.

McGeady fed the overlapping Brendan Galloway and the Everton loanee’s delivery narrowly evaded Vaughan in the middle.

Republic of Ireland international McGeady, who failed to shine while on loan at Hillsborough in the 2015/16 season, was a nuisance throughout.

It would not have flattered Sunderland had they doubled their advantage and Billy Jones should have forced Westwood into action but he headed wide at the near post after a good set play by the lively McGeady.

It took the Owls until the 19th minute to create a meaningful chance. Adam Reach’s cross was cleverly dummied by Gary Hooper and fell invitingly into the path of Winnall but his scuffed drive was kept out by Jason Steele.

In truth, Wednesday were second best for the majority of the first half and the visitors should have led by more goals.

Lewis Grabban inexplicably nodded wide of an open goal after Westwood failed to collect McGeady’s teasing free-kick. No wonder the striker had his head in his hands after the miss. He was unmarked and should have at least hit the target.

Westwood atoned for his early error, producing a smart save to keep Galloway’s rasping low drive out.

The Owls had some promising situations but Carvalhal’s men lacked end product in the final third and there were some boos at the break.

Carvalhal took off Abdi, who was ineffective at the tip of the midfield diamond, at the interval and threw on Steven Fletcher. Hooper dropped deeper to play behind Winnall and Fletcher.

Wednesday retained the ball well but rarely looked capable of hurting Sunderland’s backline, who were marshalled superbly by Lamine Kone.

And the Black Cats could have added to their lead before the hour mark only for Vaughan to send a fierce right foot effort over the crossbar after McGeady’s initial shot was blocked.

Moments later, the Owls almost made Sunderland pay for their poor finishing when Bannan picked out Hooper in the penalty area but the forward’s looping header was tipped over by Steele.

But Wednesday were not to be denied and Jones’ 25 yard thunderbolt silenced the 2,400 fans who travelled from Wearside.

Carvalhal’s side piled on the pressure after Jones’ equaliser, with substitute Jordan Rhodes heading over after a cushioned knock down by Fletcher before Tom Lees glanced over Wallace’s corner.

Sunderland were camped in their own half and the Owls poured forward at pace and in numbers. They were clinging on for dear life and some how survived an almight goalmouth scramble after more good play by Fletcher.

Hooper was desperately unlucky not to complete the turnaround in the 83rd minute, seeing his right foot piledriver strike the crossbar.

Wednesday’s supporters stayed behind at the end to clap the team off. The key now is for them to build on their strong, spirited finish.

Owls: Westwood; Hunt (Palmer 83), Lees, Pudil, Reach; Wallace, Jones, Bannan, Abdi (Fletcher HT); Hooper, Winnall (Rhodes 73). Substitutes: Wildsmith, Fox, Matias, Boyd.

Sunderland: Steele; Jones, Browning, Kone, Galloway; Honeyman, Cattermole (Gibson 86 87), Ndong, McGeady (Khazri 80); Vaughan, Grabban (Gooch 83). Substitutes: Ruiter, O’Shea, Asoro, Matthews.

Attendance: 27,631

Star man: Barry Bannan.