Match Report: Sheffield Wednesday 0 Newcastle United 1

Owls captaom Glenn Loovens beats Cheik Tiote
Owls captaom Glenn Loovens beats Cheik Tiote
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Ayoze Perez’s well taken second half strike extended Sheffield Wednesday’s winless run in pre-season to three matches.

But there were plenty of positives for Owls head coach Stuart Gray to take from an entertaining friendly at Hillsborough - with the new Championship season set to kick off in just over a week’s time.

His patched up team, missing six senior pros due to injury, dominated the first half of this warm-up fixture. Skipper Glenn Loovens marshalled the back four superbly, Sam Hutchinson delivered a fine display, sitting in front of the back four, and Jacques Maghoma was a constant menace in the wide areas before he was forced off with an injury at half-time.

Admittedly, Newcastle fielded an under-strength side, with one eye on this weekend’s Schalke 04 tournament in Germany, but Wednesday more than matched them for long spells.

In the early exchanges, Newcastle controlled the bulk of possession without every really looking like they could break down Wednesday’s well-organised back four.

Maghoma had the first sight of goal, cutting inside on to his right foot from the left flank before slicing well wide from 25 yards out.

Gary Madine, recalled to the starting line-up, squared to Chris Maguire, who cheekily tried to chip Rob Elliot but his effort sailed harmlessly over the top.

Fans of both teams joined in a very moving minute’s applause in the 17th minute in memory of the two Newcastle fans who tragically lost their lives over eastern Ukraine on board the Malaysia Airlines flight, which was shot down.

Moments later, Newcastle almost opened the scoring after some slack play out wide by Owls trialist Dejan Kelhar. The Slovenian international, making his third appearance in Wednesday colours, was dispossessed and the visitors switched play to the other side of the field, with Glenn Loovens ultimately turning Gabriel Obertan’s low centre over his own bar.

Emmanuel Riviere, spearheading Newcastle’s attack, spurned a glorious opportunity to give Alan Pardew’s side the lead midway through the half after latching on to Lubomir Satka’s inviting diagonal pass but he stabbed wide.

Maghoma appeared Wednesday’s most dangerous attacking outlet. He found Giles Coke on the edge of the area and the midfielder turned sharply before firing straight at Elliot.

The hosts continued to put Newcastle on the back foot, with Nuhiu’s drived deflected wide. From the resulting corner, Joe Mattock sent a venemous half volley narrowly off target.

Owls continued to pile on the pressure, Madine meeting Maghoma’s well flighted free kick with a powerful header only to be denied by a superb stop from Elliot. The strike would not have counted had it gone as Madine was adjudged to have been standing in an offside position.

Gray’s men were nearly rewarded for their patient play in the 38th minute when Sam Hutchinson rattled the underside of the crossbar with a thunderous shot after Nuhiu had made a nuisance of himself in the penalty area.

There was a worrying moment just before half-time for the Owls when Maghoma stayed on the ground clutching his leg after a challenge with Satka. He eventually got to his feet and play carried on. Gray decided to err on the side of caution and took the winger off at half-time.

Newcastle, without several first-team players, including Fabricio Coloccini, Hatem Ben Arfa and Moussa Sissoko, registered their first shot on target in the 56th minute, a weak shot from distance by Mehdi Abeid.

Perez grabbed the only goal of the contest in the 65th minute. He beat the offside trap, racing on to Obertan’s clever flick before coolly slotting home past Kirkland.

Even after Perez’s strike, Wednesday could have levelled through substitute Franck Betra, who prodded wide from close range. Ryan Croasdale, signed from Preston this summer, forced Elliot into a smart stop at his near post and Michail Antonio flashed a shot over.