The relegation stat that highlights Sheffield Wednesday’s plight: Owls 1 Barnsley 1

Frustration for the Owls. Pictures: Steve Ellis
Frustration for the Owls. Pictures: Steve Ellis
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The numbers make grim reading for under-pressure Owls boss Carlos Carvalhal.

Fourteen matches into the 2017/18 campaign and Wednesday lie in 16th position, 12 points adrift of the automatic promotion places.

Daniel Pudil is injured

Daniel Pudil is injured

From the last 21 points on offer, Carvalhal’s side have accrued a paltry five.

In recent years, the Owls have built their success on keeping clean sheets. They have managed only two this season.

But perhaps the most damning statistic of all is that Wednesday have won just five of their last 19 matches in all competitions. That is relegation, not promotion, form.

It is an alarming slump and highlights how Wednesday are a club stuck firmly in a rut.

Barnsley equalise

Barnsley equalise

To compound matters even further, two more points went begging on Saturday.

Adam Reach put the Owls ahead in the 34th minute with a mis-hit shot which looped over Adam Davies and it should have been all over before half-time.

But, despite their expensively-assembled forward line, Wednesday failed to turn their dominance into more goals. The club have an array of attacking options yet have found the back of the net just 17 times.

The Reds squad cost a fraction of their South Yorkshire rivals but Paul Heckingbottom’s youthful team refused to give in and Harvey Barnes spectacular second-half strike earned them a deserved point.

Adam Reach scores

Adam Reach scores

“We are bitterly frustrated,” said Reach. “We thought as a team we played well. I thought for spells in the first half we were excellent.

“We were just disappointed we didn’t kick on and get a second before half-time.

“All teams always have a spell in the Championship. When it is 1-0, it is a very tricky scoreline. They scored a good goal but we feel we should have been out of sight before that. We are disappointed.”

POSITIVE START

The Owls, who recalled Joost van Aken and Daniel Pudil to the defence, played with real purpose and energy in the opening 45 minutes. Adam Davies, on his return to Hillsborough, pulled off a couple of fine saves to deny Tom Lees, and Kieran Lee’s rasping right-foot shot struck the post as Wednesday laid seige to Barnsley’s goal.

Good fortune eventually shone on the Owls and Reach for the opener.

Describing his first goal in over six months, the left-sided player said: “It was one of them things where I went to shoot with my left foot, I’ve slipped and it has managed to hit my right foot and drop in.

“I will take the goal. I was dying for something like that to drop my way. Hopefully, as a team, we get a few more lucky breaks like that.

“I needed something like that personally. It was a bit of a bitter-sweet feeling because I was delighted to get my first goal but it wasn’t a winner.”

TACTICAL CHANGE

Wednesday’s inability to grab a second came back to haunt them in the second period.

The visitors made a shrewd tactical alteration at the interval, throwing on midfielder Brad Potts for Mamadou Thiam. There was a better balance to Barnsley’s team as Heckingbottom switched from 4-4-2 to 4-14-1. His players looked more comfortable in that system and more than matched the Owls.

After Angus MacDonald blocked Steven Fletcher’s goalbound effort and Andy Yiadom heroically cleared Barry Bannan’s chip away from near the goal line, Barnes clipped the woodwork from an acute angle.

On the counter attack, Barnsley always posed a threat and Barnes’ equaliser was a piece of individual brilliance. The Leicester City loanee cut in from the left and curled an unstoppable right-foot shot past Keiren Westwood.

Heckingbottom said: “I have to be positive about the running power and determination to cause Wednesday problems second half, but we could have made the game easier for ourselves.”

POOR FINISHING

As Carvalhal later acknowledged, his team lacked efficiency in front of goal.

“We have to take our chances,” said Reach. “It has been our Achilles heel in a lot of home games. “When you have that period of domination, the top teams kick on and get a second and a third to really see out the game.”

Boos rang out around Hillsborough at the full-time whistle. The Owls have played five of the bottom six and beaten none of them.

Three points are an absolute must tomorrow.

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