Sheffield Wednesday surrender top spot after calamitous defending and defeat to Burton Albion

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Sheffield Wednesday’s promotion push took a severe hit at Burton Albion as they fell to a damaging 3-2 defeat.

Saturday’s early kickoff saw Plymouth Argyle beat rivals, Exeter City, to go top of League One, so the Owls knew that only a victory would be enough to see them finish the weekend in pole position once again.

Darren Moore – forced into two changes due to injury – saw his side put on plenty of early pressure. Callum Paterson, in for Mallik Wilks, showed what he was about with some early touches, and very nearly had an assist to show for it after a lovely chest down sent Dennis Adeniran free. Unfortunately his shot blazed over the bar.

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Barry Bannan twice went close, curling an effort just wide of the post before drilling another just past the same upright moments later. They were on top, but as we’ve seen so often it counts for nothing if you don’t make it count.

And with just over 20 minutes on the clock that showed to be the case. John Brayford leapt highest at the far post after a dangerous corner, and it nestled into the bottom corner. Wednesday had work to do.

The response, though, was excellent. Wednesday kept up the pressure and were level seven minutes later through Callum Paterson.

Excellent pressing from Tyreeq Bakinson – in for James – saw the ball make its way to Lee Gregory, his hold up play was excellent and he found Bannan. The Owls skipper, on his 350th appearance, fed ‘Pato’ and he promptly drove the ball past Craig MacGillivray and into the bottom corner.

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It should have been the boost Wednesday needed, but within 10 minutes they somehow found themselves 3-1 down. A quickfire Mark Helm brace put them up against it, the first from close range and the second from outside the box – the Owls covered themselves in no glory with either, and they had a mountain to climb.

Sheffield Wednesday were beaten 3-2 by Burton Albion. #SWFCSheffield Wednesday were beaten 3-2 by Burton Albion. #SWFC
Sheffield Wednesday were beaten 3-2 by Burton Albion. #SWFC

Defensively they looked a shadow of the side that has prided themselves on their solidity, a team that set a new clean sheet record this season.

There were no changes at the break, Moore clearly hoping for a reaction from his players, and they almost got one immediately as Gregory twice went close in the early stages of the second stanza.

It wasn’t enough though, and with an hour gone he looked to his bench – Michael Smith was brought on to lead the charge up top and Dominic Iorfa also made his way onto the field. Bakinson and Adeniran were replaced.

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Jaden Brown was the third sub, replacing Akin Famewo, but Wednesday seemed to bereft of ideas to get back into it. Time and time again they lumped it forward and seemingly hoped for the best, time and time again it was dealt with by the hosts.

The Owls were given a ray of hope when Marvin Johnson was brought down in the box, with Smith dispatching the penalty confidently, but it felt like it could be too little too late.

Fisayo Dele-Bashiru came on for Aden Flint in a last roll of the dice, but the damage had been done – and once again it was self-inflicted.