The story of Stoke City 3 Sheffield Wednesday 2 as home side’s late show stuns Garry Monk's side

Festive cheer was in short supply for the Owls after their late Christmas cracker at relegation-haunted Stoke City.

Thursday, 26th December 2019, 1:10 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th December 2019, 7:21 pm

Their inability to hang on to a lead came back to haunt them as struggling Stoke City scored twice in added on time to end Wednesday's six-match unbeaten run.

Garry Monk's side produced a lethargic, insipid first half showing and deservedly trailed after James McClean's 11th minute opener.

But the Owls battled back after the break and appeared on course for a third consecutive Championship victory after defenders Morgan Fox and Tom Lees both scored from corners.

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Yet they pressed the self-destruct button again on the road, with goals from substitutes Tyrese Campbell and Sam Vokes deep into added on time lifting the Potters out of the relegation zone.

Big questions will be asked about Wednesday's game management - it is now 15 points dropped from winning positions this season.

"We got what we deserved," said furious Owls boss Garry Monk. "We didn't match their determination in the first 60 minutes and were lucky to only be one goal down.

“We weren't at the races at all. The way we were playing was not good enough.

“To come back in and then concede two towards the end is bitterly disappointing.”

Stoke scored with the first meaningful chance of the contest and it was a belated Christmas gift from Wednesday's perspective.

Dominic Iorfa, one of the Owls' standout performers in recent months, should have cleared his lines deep inside his own half but was caught napping on the ball.

Stoke midfielder Sam Clucas drove to the byline and clipped a lovely cross to the back post to pick out Joe Allen, whose right foot volley was turned in by James McClean.

Wednesday sorely missed top-scorer Steven Fletcher's presence in attack as the hosts dominated the opening 45 minutes. They coughed up possession at regular intervals and gave a number of cheap free kicks away.

The Potters pressed and harried Monk's side into submission, forcing them into mistakes, and could have doubled their lead when Lee Gregory glanced McClean's delivery off target.

You would never have known 21 places and 21 points separated the two teams before kick-off.

Despite being outfought and outplayed for long periods, Wednesday almost restored parity just after the half hour mark.

Kadeem Harris floated in a teasing centre from the left which Adam Reach met with an instinctive header but wide man's header struck the base of the post and was cleared to safety.

Had Reach's header gone in, it would have been completely against the run of play.

Monk allowed his squad to forego training and have Christmas Day off to spend time with their families, but too many Owls stars failed to turn up at Stoke.

Things could have got even worse for Wednesday four minutes before half-time. Tom Ince fed McClean and his ball across the box found Clucas but his weak left foot shot was well blocked by Cameron Dawson.

Stoke belied their lowly league position and ought to have been awarded a 50th minute penalty when Massimo Luongo tripped Clucas in the box. The Australian international caught Clucas on his left ankle but referee John Brooks waved play on. It was a lucky escape for Wednesday.

Moments later, Luongo's afternoon was cut short after a nasty clash of heads with Clucas. Sam Hutchinson replaced him in midfield and Monk also threw on Sam Winnall and Jacob Murphy to freshen up his attacking options.

But midway through the second period, Wednesday equalised with their first shot on target.

Fox made a run to the near post and deftly flicked Barry Bannan's corner into the far corner.

And the Owls completed a remarkable turnaround in the 74th minute when Stoke failed to deal with another set-piece.

Winnall's header from Bannan's well-flighted corner was tipped on to the crossbar by former England international Jack Butland and Leeds stooped to head home from inside the six-yard box to spark wild scenes in front of the 2,800 plus travelling fans.

Wednesday rode their luck in the closing stages.

Stoke centre-back Ryan Shawcross, fit-again following injury, headed over from a free-kick with the goal at his mercy.

Dawson then produced produced an outstanding save from point blank range to keep out another Shawcross header as the Potters threw everything at them.

And Stoke's pressure duly paid off when Campbell acrobatically volleyed in from close range.

Dawson did not deserve to finish on the losing side, making another excellent stop to thwart Vokes.

But the academy graduate was powerless to stop Vokes from bundling in the winner from the resulting corner as the Owls crashed to their first Boxing Day defeat since 2011.

“We are hugely disappointed with the performance,” said Monk. “We can’t dwell on it too much.

“We have to show a reaction in the next game.”

Stoke: Butland; Smith, Shawcross, Batth, Ward; Cousins, Allen, Clucas; Ince, McClean, Gregory (Campbell 73). Substitutes: Davies, Vokes, Lindsay, Collins, Woods, Etebo.

Owls: Dawson; Palmer, Lees, Iorfa, Fox; Reach, Luongo (Hutchinson 57), Bannan, Harris; Nuhiu (Murphy 65), Rhodes (Winnall 59). Substitutes: Wildsmith, Pelupessy, Lee, Borner.

Attendance: 25,359 (2,885).

Referee: John Brooks (Leicestershire)