Sheffield Wednesday 0
The fates conspired against Wolves at Hillsborough as Paul Lambert’s men left the ground with just a single point instead of the three that they deserved.
Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Joe Mason were both denied by the woodwork whilst Matt Doherty could rightly claim there is ‘no justice’ when he was clearly fouled by goalkeeper Keiren Westwood. There is no doubt that the vast majority of supporters in the stadium thought it should have been a penalty – but not the referee!
On a bitterly cold South Yorkshire afternoon Wolves took to the field with three changes in their line-up. Mason and Bodvarsson took over in the attack from Nouha Dicko and Bright Enobakhare, and there was a full debut for Academy graduate Connor Ronan who replaced Ivan Cavaleiro.
Wanderers kicked-off defending the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough that housed around a thousand travelling supporters.
In the seventh minute the second of two consecutive Helder Costa corners was cleared only back as far as the winger who then delivered a curling cross that Westwood did well to take cleanly whilst under pressure in his six-yard box.
In Wednesday’s first attack of note it took a magnificent save from Carl Ikeme to prevent them from taking the lead. Barry Bannan hoisted a deep free-kick into the box and Vincent Sasso’s powerful header was on its way in until Ikeme flew across his goal and made a fingertip save.
Appeals for a penalty when Mason went down after a challenge from Sasso were ignored by the referee before former Wanderer Steven Fletcher half hit a shot that Ikeme pushed aside. Fernando Forestieri quickly pounced on the loose ball and Ikeme had to block at the expense of a corner.
On 33 minutes Costa ran to the edge of the ‘D’ but lifted his shot over the bar whilst, at the other end, Danny Batth’s tackle on Forestieri resulted in a free-kick which was taken by the Owls man but, like Costa, he was too high.
Wolves were denied a stonewall penalty in the 40th minute after Tom Lees had fouled Ronan to the left of the home area. Westwood appeared to get a touch to Ronan’s free-kick and, as Dohertry took possession at the far post, the keeper ran across and clearly took the defender’s legs. The referee was well placed but incredibly he waved away the appeals.
Seconds later, and to rub salt in the wounds just a little more, the woodwork and an amazing miss denied Wolves the lead. Conor Coady’s cross was flicked on by Dave Edwards and Bodvarsson’s header beat Westwood but smacked against the bar.
Mason from just a yard out looked a certain scorer but he lifted the ball over when it looked easier to score. In fairness to the striker, he had little time to react as the ball shot towards him.
Both sides won free-kicks in the final minutes of the half, with Bannon shooting over after Mason had fouled Lees, before Sasso’s foul on Bodvarsson set up an opportunity for Ronan.
The midfielder was a full 30-yards out but he put everything into the free-kick and the ball flew into the wall hitting Sam Hutchinson flush in the face and pole axing him. When he regained his feet he was helped off with the luxury of the interval to allow him time to regain his senses.
Half-Time: Owls 0 Wolves 0
Ross Wallace was a replacement for Lees at the start of the new half which was less than three minutes old when the home goal, once again, lived a charmed life.
Ronan set up Mason who, from just outside the area, cracked a low shot the bounced off the post. The ball rebounded to a spot just outside the area and Jack Price charged in to hit a ferocious shot that hit the stanchion at the back of the net as it flew over.
Wednesday then made another change with Lucas Joao going on for Callum McManaman.
After Bodvarsson had been obstructed wide on the right, Batth headed down Price’s free-kick into the heart of the six-yard box but it was a home boot that got there first to clear.
Then the impressive Ronan, full of confidence and skill, hit a low cross that Westwood palmed away into the path of Doherty who held his head in despair as Adam Reach cleared his shot off the line. When the ball next went out of play, Hutchinson received a retrospective booking for clattering into Ronan.
Cavaleiro replaced Costa in the 61st minute and shortly afterwards there was loud applause as well as a chorus of ‘there’s only one Connor Ronan’ from the away end as the youngster was replaced by Dicko.
In the 73rd minute Mason beat the offside trap but saw his low drive bringing the best out of Woodward who made a terrific save to thwart the striker.
It was former Wolf for former Wolf in the 76th minute as David Jones took the place of Fletcher.
A somewhat fortunate bounce opened up an opportunity for Forestieri but Ikeme was in no mood to concede and he dived low to his left to claim the ball.
Richard Stearman blocked a low effort from Joao with home players and supporters appealing in vain for a penalty.
In the three minutes of stoppage time both teams won corners. Bannon’s kick was comfortably dealt with by Batth and his defence before the game ended with a Cavaleiro corner.
The ball was flicked on but Jack Hunt beat Doherty to it at the far post to concede another corner which there wasn’t time to take.
Owls: Westwood, Lee (Wallace 45), Fletcher (Jones 76), Reach, McManaman (Joao 52), Lees (capt), Hutchinson, Hunt, Sasso, Bannan, Forestieri.
Unused subs: Wildsmith, Palmer, Pudil, Nuhiu.
Booking: Hutchinson (59 – foul).
Wolves: Ikeme, Doherty, Coady, Edwards, Stearman, Batth (capt), Costa (Cavaleiro 61), Price, Bodvarsson, Mason, Ronan (Dicko 68).
Unused subs: Burgoyne, Saville, Iorfa, Enobakhare, Hause.
Referee: S. Hooper.