Owls FT: Sheffield Wednesday 1 Middlesbrough 0

Owls v Boro
Owls v Boro
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Well was it, wasn’t it? Sheffield Wednesday survived a goal-line controversy but gained the points with a late penalty.

Stuart Gray said in the aftermath of the Charlton game that he was in favour of goal-line technology in the Championship - but today perhaps he had reason to be glad it is not yet in use at this level.

Caolan Lavery

Caolan Lavery

As Middlesbrough attacked the Kop end looking for their first goal in seven games, Butterfield let fly from around 22 yards, the ball hit the inside of Kirkland’s right-hand post and bounced across goal to hit the other post before the keeper could collect it.

From the press box the ball appeared to have rolled across the line from the second rebound before it was in Kirkland’s hands. Boro players thought the same, but the officials gave nothing.

Whatever the rights or wrongs, it was a close shave for the Owls, in the 12th minute, and it looked more like a goal than the incident on Monday when a Nuhiu header hit that same right-hand post and bounced across goal before being scooped clear by Charlton keeper Hamer.

Today’s incident left the crowd buzzing, unlike the rest of the early football.

Already it was easy to see why Boro score few and concede few.

The were well-organised and happy to defend deep, with holding midfielders Whitehead and Chalobah in front of the back four, and were not intent on throwing men forward.

Wednesday’s task was to try to break them down, and it was hard going in the first 25 minutes, with not a notable strike at goal by the Owls in that time.

Coke stood out because his broken left hand - an injury suffered in the Charlton game - bore a protective cast with blue wrapping.

Oguchi had some good touches and would be looking forward to joining the USA squad for next Wednesday’s game against Ukraine in Cyprus - a final opportunity for Europe-based US players to impress Jurgen Klinsmann before he names a squad for a pre-World Cup training camp.

Today’s very tight first half should have tilted the Owls’ way in the 30th minute: Palmer crossed perfectly to the near post and Best jabbed the ball past it from a few yards out.

Wednesday could ill afford to miss chances like that against such stubborn opposition.

Maguire might have hit the target or found a colleague in the box when he volleyed a lovely ball from Hutchinson over the bar.

Soon after making a brave challenge on the touchline, Mattock went off to be replaced by Helan, in the 42nd minute. It was not clear what the left back’s problem was.

Wednesday might have had a penalty two minutes later: Hutchinson was waiting to receive a high ball into the box when he was flattened from behind by Woodgate.

In stoppage time, a Hutchinson headed from a Maguire free kick was touched past a post by Mejias.

TV replays at half-time caused debate about the Boro ‘goal’ incident - with the camera angle unable to show for certain whether or not the whole of the ball had crossed the line, thought it appeared that at least some of it did.

Gibson took over from Woodgate at centre-half - and the sub and colleagues were soon having to defend diligently against balls into their box.Maghoma had a shot blocked, Mejias punched crosses firmly, and the Boro keeer made a good save from Hutchinson, touching a rising 30-yard effort over the top.

But Boro broke away and though Graham looked offside when he ran through from Butterfield’s pass, there was no flag. Kirkland won the one-on-one, and when the ball came out out to Kamara, his shot sailed over the bar, helped by a deflection. It was a double escape for the Owls.

Jermaine Johnson came on for the disappointing Maghoma in the 62nd minute. Johnson had the crowd roaring as he beat two men in a typical run down the middle. He passed to Maguire, who mis-controlled the ball on this bobbly pitch. Nuhiu replaced him in the 72nd minute and went up front, with Lavery going left.Judged on possession and strikes at goal, Wednesday deserved to go ahead, and they did so in the 87th minute. Hutchinson crossed, Onyewu challenged, Best jabbed in a shot and there was a big appeal for handball on the line as it was blocked. The ref agreed: he sent off Whitehead and gave a penalty which was lashed home by NUHIU as Mejias