So much for kicking off the New Year in a positive fashion.
Wednesday produced a limp, lacklustre performance and rode their luck in the team’s first match of 2017.
It is not easy playing twice in three days and there were plenty of tired bodies and minds at Hillsborough yesterday.
But the Owls, playing in front of a season’s best crowd of over 30,000, carry a big squad and should be able to cope with the gruelling schedule.
Wednesday’s strength in depth was supposed to come into its own over this period and boss Carlos Carvalhal freshened things up, making five changes to the side who were held at Deepdale last weekend.
Debutant Callum McManaman looked lively, at times, before coming off.
“It is not realistic to expect players to play at the top of their performance with two games in three days,” argued Carvalhal.
“It is not possible to play correctly because they are in the red and this is when the injuries can occur.”
To put it bluntly, the Owls failed to perform against a side who they were expected to beat and beat convincingly. It just wasn’t good enough and leaves Carvalhal with plenty to ponder over the next few days.
After a promising start, Wednesday faded and Wolves took control of proceedings.
Not only were the visitors denied what looked a blatant penalty in the first half, Wolves dominated for long spells and created the better chances, hitting the woodwork twice either side of half-time and finding Keiren Westwood in inspired form.
On another day, Wolves could have won by two or three goals.
Carvalhal insisted: “The draw was the correct score. My players gave their maximum in attitude but we accept we didn’t perform well.
“Sometimes the body gives a good answer but the head doesn’t think so fast.”
Vincent Sasso, making his first start since joining the Owls on a permanent basis last August, could have opened the scoring early on.
The centre-back, one of the few bright spots for Wednesday, saw his bullet header from Barry Bannan’s free-kick superbly tipped away by Carl Ikeme. Sam Hutchinson was also denied as the Owls made a strong start.
Steven Fletcher, playing against his former club, tried his luck from just outside the penalty area after a bright, positive run by Sasso.
His weak shot was kept out by Ikeme, who then thwarted Fernando Forestieri, fit-again following a muscle problem, on the follow up.
Wolves, languishing in the lower reaches of the division, lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation and initially showed little attacking intent.
The visitors packed midfield and looked to contain Wednesday.
Paul Lambert’s side came to S6 with a game plan and executed it well.
Having restricted Wednesday to few clear sights at goal, Wolves grew in confidence and were unfortunate not to be awarded a spot-kick in the 40th minute when full-back Matt Doherty appeared to be unceremoniously brought down by Westwood but referee Simon Hooper ignored Wolves’ strong protests and waved play on.
“It wouldn’t have looked out of place at Murrayfield,” said Lambert.
“How we didn’t get that was incredible. The ref thought the goalkeeper got the ball.
“(What I said to him) is probably unprintable. It’s a stonewall penalty.
“The referee calls it the way he’s see it but I don’t think you’ll ever see a more blatant penalty than that.”
Wednesday failed to heed that warning and moments later Jon Dadi Bodvarsson’s looping header was brilliantly pushed on to the crossbar by Westwood and the rebound dropped to Joe Mason, who some how blazed over from three yards out. It was an extraordinary miss.
Too much of the Owls’ play was slow and predictable and straight forward to defend against and Mason rattled the right hand upright after the re-start following good play by teenager Connor Ronan, who excelled on the left flank.
Wednesday lacked fluency and rhythm in the final third, with Carvalhal throwing on Ross Wallace and Lucas Joao to try and inject a spark.
However, Wolves continued to carve out the bulk of the opportunities and Reach hacked Doherty’s goalbound effort off the line before Westwood foiled Mason again.
Forestieri, recalled to the starting line-up after passing a fitness test, was largely well shackled by Wolves’ defence but was twice denied by Ikeme.
A point is better than nothing and the result keeps the Owls in sixth spot.It is another clean sheet to add to the collection but the draw shouldn’t mask another mediocre showing from Wednesday.