Owls FT: Sheffield Wednesday 1 Ipswich 1

Jermaine Johnson goes down injured
Jermaine Johnson goes down injured
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Hillsborough’s pitch looked a picture in the sunshine, covered by a pattern of rings and with vertical stripes in the centre circle.

The mowers had clearly done their work and the surface was a big contrast to the terrible Blackpool pitch they played on Tuesday.

It allowed both sides to pass the ball but unfortunately they fell behind to a bad goal in the 12th minute.

As they defended the Kop end, right winger Edwards, hurled a long throw-in to the near post, where maybe Llera should have cleared but TABB nipped in between the centre half and Buxton to touch the ball inside Kirkland’s inside post from close range.

Before that Wednesday had done nothing to excite the crowd but they did put together a fine move before the goal which ended with a cross from Coke towards Johhnson, but he was having to go backwards and could get no power into his header.

The Owls also had a clearance by Pugh off the line to thank for staying level after just six minutes when centre-half Smith got in a downward header from a Tabb corner.

A typical first-class save from Kirkland prevented a second Ipswich goal in the 18th minute as he beat a firm strike from midfielder Hyam away from his top left-hand corner.

This was a worrying start by the Owls.

Wednesday’s fortunes took a further turn for the worse as both Lee and Johnson departed the game in the space of a couple of minutes. Lee went off in the 25th minute, replaced by Steve Howard who joined Lita upfront, moving Johnson out wide.

In JJ’s first run down the wing, he pulled up and had obviously damaged hishamstring. The forward had been suffering from hamstring tightness recently and has been carefully managed by the club, but this was a real blow today and raised doubts whether he would figure in the final two games.

Holding the back of his right leg, JJ tried to carry on but it was impossibleand in any case the Owls were preparing the substiution.He went off in the 28th minute with Maguire coming on and slotting in on the right flank.

This was perhaps also a blow to the team’s morale and, with more than half an hour gone, there was no sign of Wednesday taking charge.

Another sore point was the manner of Ipswich’s goal, scored from a long throw and put away by one of the smallest players in the league, getting his first goal since October 2008.

The home crowd were very subdued.

The frustration was palpable when Howard missed a chance that he would normal expect to bury.

It came about after an excellent ball by Buxton forced a corner on the left. Pugh’s kick was inviting for Howard, who was running in for virtually a free header which he put over the bar.

The Owls did begin to raise their game though it was hard going against opposition who were well organised and hard working, quickly closing Wednesday down.

Another fine ball from Buxton was well controlled by Lita who had the opportunity for a shot on the turn in the 45th minute.He hit it well but Loach went down to make an excellent save and the ball was then cleared away from the goalmouth.

Half-time: Owls 0 Ipswich 1

The crowd were now really getting behind the Owls and they began to apply pressure.

A knock-down by Howard would have given Lita a chance was it not for a challenge by centre-half Chambers, but the equaliser did eventually come.

In the 58th minute, in the midst of a lively spell for Wednesday, Buxton hoisted a good cross from the right and LITA was lurking in space on the edge of the six-yard box to control the ball and then drill a right-foot shoot into the roof of the net.

The atmosphere was transformed and the Owls should have gone ahead in the 62nd minute. Maguire lifted in a corner from the left and Llera glanced a header wide under pressure from six yards.

The Owls had to guard against beinghit on the break. Ipswich had looked rattled during the spell in which the Owls equalised, but they looked to have regained their composure and in one counter attack, they had three against three - a move ended by a splendid tackle from Pugh.

Lita appeared to have to put the Owls ahead. Helan crossed from the left and the striker stooped to put away a close-range header but was offside.

The Owls needed two challenges from Llera when Ipswich once again looked a threat going forward.