MATCH REPORT: Chesterfield 1 Sheffield Wednesday 0

Dubious: Lowe is challenged by Spireites keeper Tommy Lee
Dubious: Lowe is challenged by Spireites keeper Tommy Lee
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JOHN Sheridan could not bear to watch when Chesterfield were awarded the chance to win the B2net Stadium derby from the penalty spot.

But Wednesday are under an intense spotlight now as they head toward the Steel City showdown in need of a lift after three defeats in a row in the space of a week.

The 2,000-plus Owls fans behind the net into which substitute striker Dean Morgan struck his 78th match-winner had an uncomfortable close-up of the main reason for this latest setback.

It was at that end where their team did everything but score in the first half - one of their most dominant spells of the season.

Wednesday achieved their aim of tightening up against opposition set-pieces but failed through an increasingly familiar lack of punch in front of goal.

It is as if events are conspiring against them. Gary Madine has not yet managed to regain his form after his long lay-off - hence his dropping to the bench on Saturday.

The Owls have not had many breaks in and around the penalty area recently, plus there has been a shortage of quality in finishing and the final ball, and it was a huge blow when the man who can do something special, Jermaine Johnson, had to go off with a knee problem in the 25th minute on Saturday.

Deprived of Johnson’s pace, the Owls resorted to 4-3-3 in the second half in an unsuccessful attempt to raise their tally above one goal scored in this unhappy little spell.

Chesterfield deserve credit for their defending and the way they got bodies in the way of shots. Like Wednesday, the Spireites had plenty of spirit and effort, and they played some decent stuff at times, notably in a more even second half.

The match ended as it begun, with the Owls, after going one down, battering away at the opposition but unable to score.

The near-miss count mounted from the start: two early headers by the recalled Ryan Lowe that went over the bar, a save by Tommy Lee from Reda Johnson, a half-volley at the keeper and a header deflected over the bar, both by Lewis Buxton.

There were also times when Wednesday worked the ball into promising situations but failed to develop them into clear chances, and there were a couple of penalty-area challenges on Lowe - one of them by Lee - that I would have liked to see again.

But Chesterfield were never going to lie down and they made two good first-half opportunites: a shot by Liam Ridehalgh that was saved by Stephen Bywater, and an effort struck wide by Nicky Ajose.

Bywater pulled off another stop, in the 64th minute, from ex-Owl Drew Talbot. The Spireites seemed to grow in confidence in this half and they applied some bursts of pressure.

Ridehalgh found Ajose and the little forward was brought down by John Bostock just inside the box.

Sheridan claims he is not superstitious but he looks away when his team get penalties: “I just feel if I don’t watch we’ll score!” he said.

Scorer Morgan had made an early entrance as a sub up front in a reshuffle caused by Chesterfield’s own injury blow, the loss of left-back Gregor Robertson.

Wednesday threw men forward for the last quarter of an hour and suffered some agonies. One move ended with Madine lobbing a ball across goal. Sub Clinton Morrison, sent on to make it three up front from the 66th minute, had a shot deflected wide and a header blocked. The latter resulted in a close range header by Rob Jones and a save by Lee.

“You’re getting sacked in the morning,” chanted Chesterfield fans.

Sheridan reflected on that closing onslaught by the Owls: “They put balls in the box and they’re effective at it. We’ve improved defensively. If you stay in the game there’s always a chance something will happen; if you get that goal it gives you that lifeline and you might hold on to it. That’s what happened.”

But it

wouldn’t happen for Wednesday. Boss Gary Megson said: “We

were so far on top. You must score in that position.

“The whole season has spun around very quickly in the space of three games in seven days.”

He refused to question the referee’s refusal of penalties: “You can’t blame officials. When you’re creating that amount of chances, you have to score.”

The Owls need to persevere and spark a revival at Hillsborough on Sunday.

CHESTERFIELD boss John Sheridan had to make a couple of changes during the game on Saturday and both helped immensely to secure the win against Wednesday.

His starting 11 had Simon Ford, normally a central defender, at right-back but early on it was clear that he was having difficulties so, after just eight minutes, Sheridan moved him to his more familiar role.

The manager explained: “Every knows Fordy’s problem with his knee, but he always wants to play. I played him at right-back - he’s done well there on a couple of occasions at home - so I thought I’d throw him in, but it’s hard for him when there’s someone like Jermaine Johnson running at him.”

Just before half-time, left-back Gregor Robertson went lame and Sheridan introduced eventual match-winner Dean Morgan to the side.

Referee watch

Wednesday might have had at least one penalty. During the first half Ryan Lowe seemed to be held back on the byline,

and he was also brought down by keeper Tommy Lee when they converged on a through ball by Chris Lines. It looked a

clear penalty when Chesterfield did win one, for John Bostock’s challenge on Nicky Ajose. Bookings: Lowe, 20,

Bostock, 87.