Sheffield Wednesday match report: Norwich City 0 Owls 0

Sheffield Wednesday secured a deserved draw at promotion rivals Norwich City this evening - despite the absence of star striker Fernando Forestieri.

Saturday, 13th August 2016, 6:28 pm
Updated Saturday, 13th August 2016, 7:34 pm
Norwich v Owls

It was a positive result and performance by the Owls as Carlos Carvalhal's side underlined their top-six credentials.

Tom Lees and Sam Hutchinson led by example defensively and Lucas Joao worked tirelessly up front to ensure Wednesday claimed a share of the spoils against the Canaries, who were plying their trade in the Premier League last season.

The main talking point prior to kick-off was the omission of Forestieri. He refused to travel, sparking speculation he could be on the brink of leaving the club. Derby County and Newcastle United are big admirers of the striker, with the Rams having had a £7m offer rebuffed earlier this week.

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After resting a string of senior players in their cup loss to Cambridge United, boss Carlos Carvalhal reverted back to his strongest line-up. He made only two changes to the team who beat Aston Villa in their Championship curtain-raiser last Sunday. Both of his alterations were up front, with Lucas Joao and Canaries old boy Gary Hooper replacing Forestieri and Fletcher.

It was Norwich who made all the early running and it took a sublime challenge from Tom Lees to prevent Cameron Jerome from racing on to Wes Hoolahan's clever pass.

Sam Hutchinson and Daniel Pudil then came to Wednesday's rescue, producing great clearances to clear away Steven Naismith and Martin Olsson's dangerous crosses respectively.

Hutchinson could count himself fortunate to not give away a penalty after bringing down Robbie Brady as Norwich continued to pile on the pressure.

For our Owls news and opinion on twitter follow hereWednesday had to wait until the 20th minute to have their first sight at goal, Pudil seeing his 35-yard strike from distance fly over the top.

The visitors enjoyed a good spell of pressure as Norwich defender Timm Klose was forced to to concede a corner after Lucas Joao's fine header back across the face of goal.

Hutchinson, utilised as a centre-half this season, almost scored an own goal in the 24th minute. The former Chelsea youngster, back-pedalling towards his own goal, turned Brady's pinpoint delivery narrowly over his own bar.

The Owls continued to make life difficult for the Canaries by defending deep and in numbers. As the half wore on, Norwich became more and more frustrated.

There was some heroic defending at times by Carvalhal's men, which was epitomised by Almen Abdi, who produced a stunning last-ditch block to foil Naismith following a speedy counter attack by the hosts.

Norwich were forced to make a second change at half-time following an injury to John Ruddy. Northern Ireland international Michael McGovern came on for his debut.

Six minutes after the re-start, McGovern was called into action when Hooper rose to meet Hunt's inviting delivery but the goalkeeper was equal to it.

Having stifled the Canaries array of attacking talent, Wednesday upped the tempo and Pudil's rasping long range piledriver was kept out by McGovern.

You could sense the home fans' frustration. They looked all too laboured in attack and the Owls had wrestled the initiaitve from their grasp.

For more news from Hillsborough click hereMcGovern had to be alert to turn away Barry Bannan's fierce shot after a wonderful free-flowing attack involving Joao and Hooper.

Things started to open up in the final quarter as Canaries substitute Josh Murphy saw his strike kept out by Westwood before McGovern spilled Ross Wallace's low drive.

Tom Lees, a rock at the heart of Wednesday's rearguard, almost broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute. His stabbed drive was cleared away from near the goal-line by Norwich captain Jonny Howson.

Having recovered from a nasty head wound, Steven Fletcher, wearing a protective headwear, made an immediate impact as a substitute. He flicked on Keiren Westwood's long punt upfield into the path of Kieran Lee, who fed Joao. The Portugal international glided clear only to be denied a sight at goal by a brilliant recovery challenge from Ivo Pinto.

It was end-to-end in the closing stages but Hutchinson and Lees stood up to everything Norwich threw at them. They put their bodies on the line, making a raft of key interceptions and clearances.

Norwich: Ruddy (McGovern HT); Pinto, Bennett, Klose, Olsson (Murphy 34); Howson, Tettey; Hoolahan, Naismith, Brady; Jerome (Mulumbu 73). Substitutes: Martin, Bassong, Canos, Morris.

Owls: Westwood; Hunt, Lees, Hutchinson, Pudil; Wallace (Buckley 81), Bannan, Lee, Abdi; Joao (Nuhiu 85), Hooper (Fletcher 72). Substitutes: Wildsmith, Palmer, Semedo, Vermijl.

Attendance: 26,236

Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northamptonshire)