Sheffield Wednesday 1 Birmingham City 1 - Kadeem Harris spares Garry Monk's blushes as the Owls claim a point against his former club
It was the same old story for the Owls after Garry Monk’s first meeting with his former club Birmingham City.
They dominated for long periods, created chance after chance but failed to take them.
Their strong, purposeful first half showing against the Blues deserved much more.
But Wednesday’s lack of firepower in front of goal cost them again on a wet, miserable evening as they were forced to settle for a point.
Kadeem Harris’s 81st minute strike spared Monk’s blushes and extended his unbeaten home league run as Owls boss to six matches.
Monk lambasted his former assistant Pep Clotet at Tuesday’s pre-match press conference, accusing Clotet of a lack of loyalty. Clotet worked with Monk at Swansea City, Leeds United and St Andrew’s before taking the reins following Monk’s acrimonious sacking last June. Monk tore into Clotet, claiming he made an “error of judgement” working with him. He also suggested the Spaniard was more interested in pursuing his own career than being loyal to him.His controversial comments certainly added an intriguing subplot to the fixture.
All eyes were pitchside before kick-off, with Clotet attempting to shake Monk’s hand in the home dugout but Monk snubbed his overtures. There was no handshake post-match either as Monk walked straight down the tunnel.
Wednesday controlled proceedings in the early stages, with skipper Barry Bannan drilling a shot high over the top before Steven Fletcher flashed a fierce left foot volley narrowly wide.
Julian Börner picked up the first yellow card of the evening in the 12th minute after a rash challenge on the lively Heremie Bela to stop a Birmingham counter attack. It was centre-half’s fifth booking of the season, meaning he will serve a one-match suspension and will miss Saturday’s trip to Charlton Athletic.
After a sluggish start, the Blues gradually found their rhythm and Bela fired off target after a surging run.
But the Owls arguably should have taken the lead in the 17th minute after a great move down the left flank involving Morgan Fox and Massimo Luongo but Fletcher fluffed his lines from around eight yards out and the Blues cleared the ball to safety.
Luongo was one of four changes made by Monk and the Australian international looked busy and sharp in the midfield engine room.
Although Wednesday enjoyed the lion-share of possession and territory in the first half, they yet again lacked a cutting edge in the final third. Bannan’s delivery following a short corner had Connal Trueman scampering across his line but it drifted agonisingly wide of the far post.
There were moments when the Blues caused problems on the break but Cameron Dawson, playing in goal instead of the injured Keiren Westwood, was equal to Fran Villalba’s rasping right foot drive.
Trueman was Birmingham’s hero in the 33rd minute when he quickly came off his line to deny Kieran Lee in a one-on-one situation after the midfielder had been played in by Luongo.
Moments later, Luongo and Börner missed chances as the Owls continued to make the most of the running in the pouring rain.
Moses Odubajo, making his first start since Wigan Athletic on October 5 in the absence of the suspended Liam Palmer, almost scored a goal of the season contender on the stroke of half-time. The full-back collected Bannan’s raking crossfield pass and cut in on to his left foot before unleashing a stinging left foot drive which rattled the crossbar.
Monk rejigged his defence at the interval, taking off Börner for club captain Tom Lees.
It took Alvaro Giminez just three minutes of the second period to find a hole in Wednesday’s rearguard as he turned in Bela’s cross at the near post to give the visitors an unlikely lead.
Birmingham’s travelling contingent taunted Monk by singing ‘’Garry, what’s the score, Garry Garry what’s the score’.
There was a decent response from the Owls to going behind as Fletcher and Lee combined well to slip in Kadeem Harris, who drilled a shot into the side-netting from an acute angle.
They needed a spark from somewhere and Monk eventually turned to Fernando Forestieri.
Forestieri seemed hungry to make an impact and saw a right foot curler go just wide of the far post.
In a desperate last throw of the dice, Monk introduced Atdhe Nuhiu and switched their formation from 4-1-4-1 to 4-4-2.
With nine minutes remaining, Wednesday deservedly levelled things up through Harris. The former Cardiff City player drilled a low shot from outside the box into the bottom corner to claim his first goal since August.