KEITH Treacy, one of Wednesday’s promotion heroes last season, returned to Hillsborough yesterday and jolted the Owls’ bid to climb the Championship table.
His scorching long-range drive into the bottom corner in the 63rd minute sent Burnley on the way to a deserved victory.
It was the first goal that Wednesday had conceded in five games and ended their unbeaten run.
Treacy also had a hand in the Clarets’ second goal, in the 76th minute, as his cross forced a penalty given for handball against Lewis Buxton, and the winger hit the post with a terrific shot in stoppage time.
Treacy only got into the game as a 41st minute sub after being dropped to the bench following his first Burnley start since February, in a 1-0 defeat by Leicester last Saturday.
His lack of opportunities at Turf Moor led to his loan move to Wednesday last season.
The Irishman was on Dave Jones’s list of targets in the summer but Jones said this week that the Owls could not afford the package that would have been needed to bring him back to Hillsborough.
Wednesday largely lacked a threat of their own and were mostly second best, with the visitors also making the greater number of chances, and hitting the woodwork in the first half.
The Owls had problems almost from the start, though Michail Antonio did put the visitors under threat in the first few minutes when a through ball by David Prutton nearly sent him clear down the inside-left channel but the striker could not get the ball under proper control and possession was lost.
Within 10 minutes there were a few cries of impatience from the home crowd because the Owls were unable to make a fast start and Burnley stitched together some passes as they attacked the Kop end.
If the Owls needed a wake-up call they got one in the 11th minute: right back Kieran Trippier shook the bar with a marvellous strike from 30 yards that seemed to take Chris Kirkland by surprise.
Ex-Owls keeper Lee Grant showed his familiar agility in pushing a 19th minute header by Kieran Lee past the post; Antonio supplied the cross to the far post after good work by Mamady Sidibe and Jeremy Helan.
Although Burnley played with former Doncaster star Brian Stock as a defensive midfield player in front of the back four, they showed ambition in coming forward and caused Wednesday problems with their possession game.
The Owls also had two let-offs in the space of two minutes. A knockdown from a free kick gave ex-Barnsley centre half Jason Shackell a free volley: he smashed it over the bar.
A diagonal low ball into the box by deep-lying forward Ross Wallace found striker Sam Vokes unmarked behind the defence but he missed it completely.
Burnley had succeeded in quietening the home fans. Their hogging of possession and numerical advantage in midfield led to Wednesday trying to stiffen that area by pushing Lee inside and moving Antonio to his old role on the right wing, which left Sidibe as a lone central striker.
Treacy entered the fray to a ripple of applause from home fans when he was sent on to the left wing in the 41st minute as Martin Patterson went off.
A minute after that the Owls had another close call: midfield man Chris McCann got free on the left by the corner of the corner of the six yard box and Chris Kirkland made an important save.
If Wednesday were going to get anything it was from a set piece or high ball into the box, and this route still offered hope as the game wore on.
But the Owls’ first chance of the game, two minutes into the second half, came from the electric pace of Helan.
The run was similar to the one that earned him a great goal against Charlton.
A shot from the left was not on, and he cut the ball back to the unmarked Lee, who did the right thing in trying to pick his spot but was denied by a block from Shackell. The ball bounced out to Antonio and his effort was stopped by left back Danny Lafferty.
Wednesday had a 4-3-3 look about them when they went forward, with Helan and Antonio looking to get forward and support Sidibe, but the on-loan centre forward had been finding it hard going, and Jones replaced him with Chris O’Grady in the 59th minute.
A minute later, however, Wednesday had Kirkland to thank once again: his acrobatic dive kept out a super 30-yard effort from Wallace.
With a further three minutes on the clock, the Owls keeper was beaten.
There seemed nothing on when Treacy was in possession almost 30 yards out. ut his left-foot drive was hard and true: the ball flew into Kirkland’s bottom left-hand corner and, possibly unsighted, he barely moved.
Wednesday continued to huff and puff; a one-goal margin looked hard enough to overcome, but a second goal, in the 76th minute, was a killer.
Treacy drove in a cross from the left and it struck Lewis Buxton. A penalty for handball was given and there was no real fuss from the Owls.
Wallace hammered the spot kick straight down the middle into the roof of the net.
Wednesday fans began to drift away, having been given little to excite them.
* OWLS: Kirkland 7, Buxton 6, Llera 7, Gardner 7, Mattock 7, Lee 7, McCabe 6, Prutton 6 (J Johnson 72), Helan 7, Sidibe 6 (O’Grady 59, 6), Antonio 6. Unused subs: Bywater,Taylor, Madine, Corry, Jones.
* CLARETS: Grant 7, Trippier 6, Duff 8, Shackell 8, Lafferty 7, Stock 7 (Bartley 90), Ings 7, McCann 6 (Edgar 70, 6),
Paterson 6 (Treacy 41, 8), Wallace 7, Vokes 6. Unused subs: Jensen, O’Neill, Stewart, Long.
* Bookings: Lafferty.
The pace of Jeremy Helan (pictured) looks a potent weapon; the more it can be used, the better. His run and low ball made the chance for Kieran Lee just after half time, when a goal for the Owls might have changed the game. Good defending kept out the shot and the follow-up from Michail Antonio.
When Keith Treacy came on in the first half I said to the person next to me that he’d probably score. It just was not Wednesday’s day, so 2013 has begun with a disappointment, but the efforts of the previous four games should not be overlooked.
NEXT 4 GAMES:
05.01.13 MK Dons FAC 3 (H)
12.01.13 Hull City (5.20) (A)
19.01.13 Wolverhampton (H)
26.01.13 Charlton (A)
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