Sheffield Wednesday match report: Owls 1 Bolton Wanderers 0

It was an ugly, unconvincing victory at a half empty ground.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 27 November, 2018, 21:02
Cameron Dawson celebrates Sheffield Wednesday's win over Bolton Wanderers

But Sheffield Wednesday secured their first home win in over three months to ease the pressure on manager Jos Luhukay.

Captain Tom Lees was the hero, heading in Joey Pelupessy's 57th minute corner, to earn the Owls their first win in seven matches.

The result was all that mattered on a wet, miserable night under the floodlights at S6, but Wednesday's performance left a lot to be desired in front of their lowest league attendance since April 2016.

Defeat leave Bolton without a win in nine matches and sitting second-from-bottom in the Championship.

There were vast swathes of empty blue seats around the ground, with many season-ticket holders opting to stay away. There is a great degree of frustration, anger and apathy around the club and the low turn-out is unlikely to have gone unnoticed by Wednesday's hierarchy.

The trouble is there remains little continuity in Luhukay's team selection or tactics. In the last four matches alone, the Owls have played four different formations.

Luhukay has constantly tinkered with his personnel, particularly in defence, so it was hardly a surprise he handed recalls to youngsters Jordan Thorniley and Matt Penney as Wednesday targeted a first home clean sheet this campaign.

Steven Fletcher returned in attack, having sat-out Saturday's defeat to Derby County, with Luhukay leaving out Lucas Joao and Fernando Forestieri.

It was big Scot who had the first sight at goal in the seventh minute. He skilfully brought down Barry Bannan's lofted pass just outside the penalty area before seeing his low left foot strike deflected behind for a corner.

The atmosphere was flat and both teams looked bereft of confidence and quality. There were plenty of misplaced passes and sloppy pieces of control.

Clear-cut opportunities were at a premium in a tight, nervy first period. It looked every inch a battle between two teams scrapping it out at the wrong end of the league.

Goal-shy Bolton registered the first shot on target, Sammy Ameobi's rasping 30 yard strike forcing Cameron Dawson into action just after the quarter of an hour mark after good work by Joe Williams.

Fletcher sliced an effort wide and Bannan drilled over from long range as the hosts threatened sporadically to break the deadlock.

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The Owls suffered a blow in the 35th minute when Fletcher was forced off with a knock. Luhukay elected to bring on another big targetman in the shape of Nuhiu to fill the void.

Michael Hector, who had earlier blazed wide after Bolton had only partially cleared a Wednesday corner, had to be alert to cut out Pawel Olkowski's dangerous delivery from near the byline in a rare cohesive attack from the visitors.

If anyone looked capable of unlocking the Owls' backline, it was Ameobi. The lively winger saw his cross turned shot from the right pushed behind by Dawson, with Bolton finishing the half in the ascendency.

Ash Baker summed up Wednesday's frustration by picking up the first yellow card of the evening after a crude tackle on Ameobi.

Boos greeted the half-time whistle and the home fans' displeasure was entirely justified, with Luhukay's men failing to muster a single shot on target.

Luhukay called for positive thinking but his side gave a sparce crowd barely anything to shout about in a dreadful opening 45 minutes. His under-performing outfit looked totally out of sorts, short on ideas and belief.

Luhukay tried to spark the Owls into life by bringing on talismanic forward Forestieri for Penney. Yet again they changed formation, switching from 4-4-1-1 to 4-2-3-1.

And Reach went close to putting Wednesday ahead just after the restart, volleying agonisingly wide.

There was more pace and urgency about the Owls' play following Forestieri's introduction and Lees' header calmed a few nerves.

It prompted Bolton to come out of their shells and Ameobi fired over from long range before Williams whipped in a superb centre across the face of the six-yard box which just evaded Josh Magennis.

Bannan curled high over the top for Wednesday before Bolton fluffed a glorious chance to level things up through substitute Clayton Donaldson. Marco Matias, making his 50th Wednesday appearance, needlessly gave the ball away deep inside his own half and Christian Doidge laid the ball off to former Blades forward Donaldson, who scooped the ball over the top.

Lucas Joao and Reach spurned chances to add a second late on but Wednesday held on to claim a first Hillsborough win since August 25.