How spirited Sheffield Wednesday secured a hard-fought draw with Fulham in Garry Monk's home debut

After second half substitute Atdhe Nuhiu stooped to head in Kadeem Harris's deflected cross to salvage a point for the Owls, Hillsborough erupted.

By Dom Howson
Saturday, 21st September 2019, 2:57 pm
Updated Friday, 27th September 2019, 8:18 pm
Owls striker Atdhe Nuhiu was the hero in the Fulham draw
Owls striker Atdhe Nuhiu was the hero in the Fulham draw

The sense of relief around the famous old ground was palpable after a spirited second half display from Wednesday had yielded a point.

Garry Monk celebrated on the pitch after Nuhiu's dramatic late intervention in the third minute of added on time preserved his unbeaten run as Owls boss.

Fulham really only have themselves to blame for letting two points slip through their grasp. Rather than kick on after midfielder Tom Cairney's 42nd minute opener, the Cottagers spent long periods of the second half time-wasting.

It also had to be said that referee Geoff Eltringham had an absolute stinker and repeatedly infuriated the home faithful with his poor decision-making. The fussy referee lost the plot late on as tempers flared, ridiculously booking Sam Hutchinson for dissent moments after the defensive midfielder had blatantly been fouled by Harry Arter.

It looked inevitable it would be a frustrating afternoon for Monk on his Owls home debut.

But Nuhiu saved the day by bagging his second goal of the campaign to spark wild celebrations.

"I said to the players at half-time that it won't be the last time they face a goal deficit so if they wanted to be a team, to build as a team, then they had to show character, and to come out and fight in that shirt, and I thought they did that wonderfully well," said Monk.

As Monk is well aware, there are still plenty of things he needs to address over the coming weeks and months to turn Wednesday into a top side in this division.

His team were too deep and showed Fulham too much respect in the opening 45 minutes. The visitors enjoyed 76 per cent of possession as the Owls tactically set up in their 4-3-3 formation to stifle the Cottagers' attacking threat and hit them on the counter attack.

Now, Fulham are a good footballing team and are packed with Premier League talent but they are not Manchester City or Liverpool. Like Wednesday, Fulham are a work in progress.There was no high press. There was no getting into the opponents faces and harrying them into unforced errors. There was little evidence of playing on the front foot.

It was all too cautious from the Owls.

Yet the Cottagers were indebted to goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli for producing an excellent double save to thwart Adam Reach and Steven Fletcher with the score at 0-0. He denied Kieran Lee too as Wednesday created the better of the chances.

But Fulham struck just before half-time after Keiren Westwood could only divert a low Joe Bryan cross into the path of Cairney, who side-footed home from 10 yards. Westwood should have done better.

Organisation, character, spirit and togetherness are the hallmarks of Garry Monk's teams and they displayed those ingredients after the break against a Fulham outfit that were content to sit on their one goal advantage when a second would have killed off the contest.

But Wednesday kept on believing and dug deep to grind out a result. Jacob Murphy, Barry Bannan and Nuhiu went close to scoring before Nuhiu nodded home at the back post.

"We never gave up," said Monk. "We showed the qualities we will need throughout the season."