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Big match verdict: Missed chances cost Sheffield Wednesday dearly in home draw against Hull City

Wednesday striker Steven Fletcher
Wednesday striker Steven Fletcher
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A point gained or two dropped?

Wednesday could easily have lost their first home match of the season.

Hull created the better chances in the opening 45 minutes and were good value for their half-time lead.

Despite changing their formation from 3-5-2- to 3-4-3 and moving Sam Hutchinson from midfield to the heart of their rearguard, the Owls still looked unconvincing and fragile as a defensive unit.

It is no exaggeration to say the Tigers could have scored twice inside the opening five minutes. Wednesday were all over the place at the back early on.

Things also looked grim after Fraizer Campbell’s 36th minute opener. The striker fired home from close range after Jarrod Bowen hit the post and Evandro’s follow-up was brilliantly kept out by Cameron Dawson.

It was bad enough the Owls’ defence gave Bowen too much time and space to cut inside and line up a shot but they were then too slow to react to the loose ball. Sloppy play all-round.

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But whatever Jos Luhukay said to his players at the interval had the desired effect as Wednesday were a team transformed in the second half.

Fernando Forestieri, a lively figure throughout, levelled things up from the penalty spot after he was unceremoniously brought down by Reece Burke.

Fernando Forestieri

Fernando Forestieri

There looked only one winner after Forestieri’s spot-kick as Wednesday dominated and took control. Chances were created to complete the fightback. Both Forestieri and Steven Fletcher had two apiece. Chances went begging.

Forestieri said: “We played well. We were unlucky.

“We played like a team and defended very well. We are slowly building.

“I’m really happy because we finished the game well.

Owls skipper Tom Lees

Owls skipper Tom Lees

“We had a lot of shots on target and we take that as a positive.”

Steven Fletcher

Fletcher, making his first start in eight months after a knee injury, was a handful. His intelligent link up play and aerial prowess caused Hull’s defence all sorts of problems.

The big Scot put a hard-working shift in but, try as he might, could not cap his long awaited comeback with a goal. He missed a hat-trick of golden opportunities.

His rustiness in front of goal was, to some extent, understandable.

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Owls goal-scorer Fernando Forestieri

Owls goal-scorer Fernando Forestieri

Nonetheless, Fletcher will feel disappointed he did not put the Owls ahead in the first half after a lovely run and pass by Adam Reach. he was foiled in a one-on-one situation by David Marshall, who rushed off his line and spread himself well to narrow the angle.

“Fletch had a clear chance in the first half but these things happen,” said Forestieri. “If maybe Fletch had scored at that time, the game would have changed.”

To add to Fletcher and Wednesday’s frustration, the striker spurned two headed opportunities to put the hosts ahead following Forestieri’s penalty equaliser.

Forestieri said: “He had a good header in the second half where he could have scored. We all wanted him to score to give him more confidence.

“He hadn’t played for eight months but he looked good and helped the team a lot. We need to help each other.

“It will come for him [Fletcher] the more games he plays. He didn’t look like he had been out for eight months. He looked fit and good.”

Luhukay was also impressed with Fletcher’s display.

“His game was very good,” he said. “Steven won his battles and made some very good positions.

“He was unlucky not to score but that day will come when things go his way. I am sure about that.”

When Fletcher was subbed off with 17 minutes remaining, the Owls lost their focal point and attacking fluidity.

Mixed emotions

While Luhukay was satisfied with his side’s display, he was left frustrated by their profligacy in the final third. Hull were there for the taking and Wednesday would arguably have won comfortably had their finishing been up to scratch. A big improvement is still required in both boxes.

But there were grounds for optimism. Ash Baker caught the eye on the right flank, Hutchinson acquitted himself well in defence, Fletcher took up a number of dangerous positions and Forestieri was unplayable at times.

“It is disappointing as we came out wanting to win the game,” said midfielder Barry Bannan. “We didn’t start off great.

“We gave them too many chances and when they got the goal it gave them something to sit back and defend.

“In the second half we were much better. Had a better tempo and should have won it in the end.”

For Bannan, it is clear what area the Owls have to address.

He said: “Defensively as a team we are not defending well enough at the minute. We are giving the opposition too many chances.

“It is disappointing as last season we were strong as a unit we need to work at that side of things.”

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