THE sight of Miguel Llera lying face down on the pitch in despair after heading into his own net summed up another dose of misery for Wednesday.
His unintentional winner for Forest was not the only cause, however, as the Owls slipped to a third successive defeat.
For the umpteenth time this season they paid the price for failing to do at the right end what Llera’s misjudgement did at the wrong one: stick the ball in the net.
They should have been out of sight of Forest by the time the defender nodded a cross by midfield man Chris Cohen into the top corner when he was trying to clear.
Wednesday did not deserve to lose.
Take away the goal and they were pretty solid when defending, with Llera and Anthony Gardner a rugged partnership. The team were also reasonably creative going forward, made more chances than Forest and compared very well in every respect with an established Championship outfit.
It was another game that showed why Dave Jones has been trying to sign a goalscorer on loan.
Moments when Wednesday might have scored were many.
Michail Antonio got into a dangerous position in the
box after beating two men but then struck the ball across the area and out for a throw.
Gary Madine headed wide from an Antonio throw, and in the last minute of the first half Nejc Pecnik volleyed over the bar.
Pecnik’s return on the right side of midfield was something of a surprise, and he cannot have done his cause any harm by scoring twice for Slovenia in Macedonia last week. But Jones waited only until the 52nd minute before bringing on Jermaine Johnson, and it was the start of the Owls’ purple patch.
Johnson cut in and hit the target with a left-foot shot but when the keeper beat it away the ball did not break to a Wednesday player.
In this spell of around eight minutes, up to the 61st minute, Jay Bothroyd missed the ball when attempting a half-volley in front of goal; he also saw a shot headed off the line, after fine work by Jose Semedo and Daniel Jones down the left, and made one tremendous run down the left wing to make a chance for Johnson, who fired off target from eight yards.
On many occasions during the game the ball was “bobbling around” in the box, as Jones put it, yet no-one could sniff out a goal.
The ball just would not go in, and it was the same at all of Wednesday’s set-pieces - principally corners by Bothroyd and long throws by Antonio.
Forest defended impressively against these. They also made a better job of keeping Antonio quiet on the wing than most teams have managed, with the Owls’ danger man frequently faced by two opponents when he had the ball.
Forest also got bodies in the way of shots in the box, and their all-round resolve was acknowledged by Jones.
“Credit to their lads. We watched them against Middlesbrough [a 0-0 draw]; they dug in, scrapped and fought and out their bodies on the line. They’ve done it again and got their reward,” he said.
“They got a breakaway and scored. We’re just frustrated with it all.”
Inevitably Forest had their moments.
Chris Kirkland made a good block after Billy Sharp had been put through by a one-two. Henri Lansbury, brought on as sub on the left side of Forest’s midfield early in the second half, made a difference to them, but he lifted a chance over the top just after Wednesday’s flurry of second-half opportunities.
Wednesday’s 4,405 following were in great voice, backing the team as well as their hero on Semedo Day, but it was a sickener when the goal came, right under their noses.
It was so cruel on Llera in the sense that, after being criticised by Jones for errors at Middlesbrough, chiefly for one that led to a goal, he did so much that was right on Saturday.
The manager reflected on the mishap: “It was ball that nine times out of 10 would have been cleared. It’s unfortunate for Miguel because there was nothing wrong with him until then. Defensively it was a sound performance.”
The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Wednesday and there was no way back, though sub Danny Mayor looked useful on the right flank, in his brief outing.
Jones started with a sort of 4-4-1-1 system instead of 4-1-4-1, with Semedo in a centre-midfield two with Ross Barkley, Paul Corry left out, Pecnik on the right and Bothroyd playing more centrally, just behind Madine. “It’s not about formations,” said Jones. “It’s about having that bit of composure in good areas at vital times.”
The Owls have to hope that a signing can be made and that it will make a difference.
Jones thinks the club have worked as hard as they can to sharpen the squad’s goal threat. “I don’t know what else we can do in training to create and finish. We work at it so hard,” he said.
“They’re getting frustrated now because it’s chance after chance after chance.”