In the picturesque setting of the Sportplatz Irdning stadium, nestling in the foothills of the Austrian ski resorts Sheffield Wednesday had a relatively pleasing start to their pre-season friendly matches.
A 0-0 draw against a strong and fit FC Volga team is a good result after a week’s training at altitude and the clean sheet in particular will delight Owls manager Gary Megson.
While the message from the club before the match was that the result was secondary to having a good work out for fitness no set of professionals enjoys losing.
It was a habit that Wednesday frequently fell into last season and one that Megson is doing his utmost to shake from the club by signing combative players such as David Prutton and Jose Semebo.
Both new signings were eventually booked in a match that at times was played with a temper almost as hot as the early evening sun at the ground.
Wednesday started with Richard O’Donnell in goal and a back four of Jon Otsemobor, Reda Johnson, Mark Beevers and Julian Bennett.
Prutton and Semedo made their first appearances for the Owls in midfield alongside Chris Sedgwick.
Jermaine Johnson and Daniel Jones were out wide and Gary Madine was the lone striker.
Rob Jones wasn’t risked after feeling tightness in a leg muscle during training.
Volga, who are on a mid-season break from the Russian Premier League campaign, began brightly. Their superior match sharpness caused Wednesday early problems.
But while the Russian’s edged the opening half an hour in terms of possession they were only able to fashion one clear-cut chance.
The lively Mersudin Ahmetovic cut in from the left to shoot across Owls goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell. The ball appeared destined for the far corner until O’Donnell produced a splendid diving save to parry the ball to safety.
The Owls had no further scares but Prutton made an impact in the referee’s notebook as he and two Volga players were cautioned before the break.
Megson made five changes at the interval with Nicky Weaver replacing O’Donnell and Mark Reynolds, James O’Connor, Liam Palmer and Clinton Morrison coming on for Bennett, Prutton, Sedgwick and Madine respectively.
Wednesday worked hard after half time to keep the Russians from testing Weaver apart from one excellent save.
And they could have snatched a win when youngster Liam Palmer was brought down in the box. No foul was given by the referee and both sides were content with the draw as the match fizzled out.