Owls Match Report: Sheffield Wednesday 0 Wolverhampton 0

Sheffield Wednesday v Wolves.....A first half header from Reda Johnson is cleared off the Wolves goal line
Sheffield Wednesday v Wolves.....A first half header from Reda Johnson is cleared off the Wolves goal line
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DAVE Jones will today resume his task of finding a way to improve the Owls scoring rate.

That means more finishing practice on the training ground and further manoeuvres in the transfer market.

He has also given an insight into how hard it is to sign a goalscorer at this time of year unless you are a Championship club with big bucks to spend.

“I made an inquiry in the last week and the lad is two and a half million pounds,” he said. “I can’t compete with that.”

Giving another example, he said: “There’s one club going to pay £22,000 (a week) for a striker who’s not even in a Premier League first team and hasn’t been for a while.

“We’re not at a stage where we can compete with that; we have to be diligent and cut our cloth accordingly, and try to find the right ones who we think can do us the right job.

“But we can’t get into that (prohibitively expensive) market at the moment, because we’d end up probably where the club was a few years ago; we don’t want to do that.

“We’re all right. Everybody is working hard and doing their jobs and they will get there in the end.”

If some of this is covering familiar ground, well so was Saturday’s match.

Wednesday had the better of the play and the chances but failed to win because they were short of quality in the final ball or finish.

You cannot blame Jones for preferring to accentuate the positives, after so many times this season having had to acknowledge an important shortcoming.

He pointed out that the team played some good stuff and deserved to win against an outfit who were in the Premier League last season and have a wage bill probably three times the size of Wednesday’s.

The Owls boss also pointed to sound defending, and remarked that a haul of four points from the last two league games would have been perceived as fantastic if it had been an away draw at Hull followed by a home win.

In addition, the record is five clean sheets in the last seven league games (six in the last nine league and cup matches).

Wednesday blunted a Wolves strike pairing - Kevin Doyle and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake - that cost £8m, and the Owls hardly gave £3m winger Bakary Sako a kick. The back four, notably Anthony Gardner and Miguel Llera, were in unyielding mood.

Jones said: “We got it down and passed it well; we got through midfield, out wide and through the middle. The only negative is that we didn’t finish them off. The only things we had to deal with were their set-plays and the ball over the top, and I think the lads at the back did that brilliantly.”

Overall the team’s performance was an improvement on the previous two home games, the 2-0 defeat against Burnley and the goalless draw for a much-changed side against MK Dons in the FA Cup.

When Jones talked about 17 opportunities that might have brought that elusive goal on Saturday, he was talking about strikes at goal or situations that could have led to something, rather than clear-cut chances, but Wednesday had some of those as well.

Jermaine Johnson’s shot over the bar from 25 yards in the second minute was a half-chance; Michail Antonio’s close-range blast later one was a proper opening, which was blocked by Carl Ikeme.

The Wolves keeper also clutched on the line a header by Reda Johnson, and Wednesday made three chances in a three-minute spell just before half time and missed the target from good posi

tions; Antonio side-footed wide, Giles Coke planted an effort over the top, and Kieran Lee shot wide.

In the second half, Antonio was tackled as he went for goal though he had support to his left, and he narrowly failed to connect at the near post from a cross by Reda Johnson. Also, Jeremy Helan thrashed a shot into the side netting

Wednesday were a threat at set-pieces as well but came up against some stout defending.

The visitors made not one clear-cut chance and only occasionally showed the quick, accurate passing that comes from a Premier League pedigree.

If Wednesday had a natural predator of proven Championship calibre then they surely would have secured their first home win against Wolves in 15 games since 1964.

No wonder Dean Saunders described it as a “great point”; he was

pleased with the clean sheet and with the fact it keeps his team four points ahead of Wednesday.

Saunders reckoned that the Owls bombarded Wolves from all angles: “Our centre-backs were heading it away, and if it drops to one of their two strikers (Antonio and JJ), they’re like Olympic sprinters. It’s hard to cope with.”

Jones, who has to move players out in order to brings others in, abhors the transfer window system and the inflated prices it causes in January and believes that the Championship clubs who splash out “phenomenal” money are risking danger because only three can go up, and the Fair Play regulations governing spending will come in for the start of next season.

He added that Wednesday get bigger gates than the club who are prepared to pay somebody £22,000 a week.

Anyway, it’s back to work today. “We’ll look at finishing,” he said. “There’s a good atmosphere about the place.

“Everybody is working hard. It was just that finishing touch ... you could say that’s been (the case) all season.”