Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Town - Match Report
Saturday, 16th Apr 2016 17:37
Sixteen-year-old Andre Dozzell came off the bench to score a debut goal as the Blues drew 1-1 at Sheffield Wednesday, but Town would now appear to have no realistic chance of making the play-offs. Dozzell came on at half-time and headed home Liam Feeney’s cross in the 71st minute, Fernando Forestieri having given the Owls the lead three minutes before the break.
The Town starting line-up featured five changes with David McGoldrick making his first start since October, while Kevin Bru, Jonathan Douglas, Liam Feeney and Tommy Smith also returned to the team.
Luke Varney (hamstring) and Cole Skuse dropped out through injury, Luke Hyam due to suspension, while Ben Pringle moved to the bench and Ainsley Maitland-Niles was left out of the 18.
Dozzell was amongst the senior subs for a second time, alongside fellow youngsters Adam McDonnell and Myles Kenlock.
The Blues, wearing their orange third kit, started in a 4-4-2 system with Feeney on the left and Kevin Foley on the right, Bru and Douglas in the middle and McGoldrick and Freddie Sears up front.
Town threatened for the first time in the third minute when Sears escaped down the left but his low cross was cut out.
The former Colchester man came close to opening the scoring a minute later when he was sent away on the left following a quickly taken freekick - too quickly according to the home players - but Wednesday keeper Keiren Westwood diverted his shot from a tight angle wide.
The Owls’ first chance came from a ninth minute Ross Wallace corner on the right but Daniel Pudil headed well over.
The Blues were having the better of the opening spell and on 11 McGoldrick, who spent time on loan at Hillsborough in 2011, turned a shot a couple of yards wide of Westwood’s right post.
The Wednesday keeper came close to creating a goal in the 17th minute when his long kick deceived Christophe Berra, allowing Kieran Lee to take the ball down and find Lucas Joao, who broke into the box and hit a low shot across Bartosz Bialkowski but wide of his right post.
Three minutes later, with the Owls now on top, Joao was sent away through on goal on the left by Pudil but was thwarted by the advancing Bialkowski.
On 28 Wednesday skipper Glenn Loovens headed wide from another Wallace right-sided corner.
Just after the half hour, the Owls broke down the left and Wallace whipped over a dangerous ball which Bialkowski punched against Bru at the edge of the box with the ball falling to the Mauritius international rather than a home player. After his initial clearance had cannoned back into the area, Bru eventually saw the ball out for a goalkick.
Barry Bannan scraped a shot wide in the 38th minute after good work from Joao on the right with Wednesday still in charge and with Town rarely getting into the final third.
Three minutes later the home side came even closer when a dangerous ball from the right appeared to catch both Blues skipper Luke Chambers and Forestieri as it flew across the six-yard area before being claimed by a grateful Bialkowski.
But a minute later the Owls went in front. Wallace crossed from the left, Berra’s stooping header hit Joao and fell to Forestieri, who smashed the loose ball past Bialkowski from 10 yards.
Neither side threatened again before the break with the Owls going in deservedly in front.
Having made a bright start with Sears having had a couple of opportunities, the Blues had allowed the home side to get on top and Wednesday might have gone in front prior to Forestieri’s goal with Bialkowski doing well to save from Joao when the Portuguese striker was through on goal.
Town had a lot of work to do in the second half to claim the win which would reignite their play-off hopes.
The Blues handed first-year scholar Dozzell his senior debut ahead of the second half in place of Foley, the academy scholar aged 16 years and 350 days, older than his father Jason who made his famous goalscoring bow aged 16 years and 57 days back in February 1984 in a 3-1 home victory over Coventry at Portman Road.
Town began the half with McGoldrick up front ahead of Feeney, Sears and Dozzell in front of holding pair Bru and Douglas.
Wednesday had the better of the opening quarter of an hour but without seriously threatening to add to their lead, Forestieri lashing over right on the 60 minute mark.
The Owls should have made it 2-0 in the 64th minute when Forestieri broke away on the right and fed Joao, who found Bannan breaking into the area to his left, but the Scotland international scuffed his shot at Bialkowski when he really should have done better. On 70 Wallace and Bru were both booked after an off the ball clash.
Town had made little impression since the break, but in the 71st minute they got on terms with the sub Dozzell following in his father’s footsteps by scoring a debut goal.
The England U17 international fed Feeney on the left before making his way into the area and flicking the on-loan Bolton man’s cross past Westwood from the edge of the six-yard box before celebrating wildly with his team-mates.
Wednesday went about looking to restore their lead and a minute after the Blues’ goal Joao just failed to connect with Bannan’s cross from the left.
The Portuguese frontman went close again soon afterwards with a low shot which Bialkowski bundled behind to his right.
Brett Pitman replaced Bru for the Blues on 75, then moments later Gary Hooper took over from Alex Lopez for the Owls. Pitman quickly got his name in referee Robert Madley’s book for a late tackle on Pudil.
As the game moved into its final five scheduled minutes the Blues were suddenly looking the more likely scorers with Wednesday looking vulnerable on the break. On 86 McGoldrick curled a shot from 25 yards out on the left but was unable to seriously test Westwood.
Two minutes later, Bialkowski did well to get down to save from Wallace and then claim the loose ball with Wednesday now putting the Blues under pressure.
Within a minute Town almost scored a comical own goal when Bialkowski cleared against Chambers, but fortunately the ball rebounded wide.
In the final minute of normal time Bialkowski again saved well from Wallace, before a loose ball fell to Pitman in the Wednesday area but his shot was blocked.
During four minutes of injury time McGoldrick shot too close to Westwood from distance, then Chambers was booked for a foul.
The Blues just about defended a goalmouth scramble from a Wednesday freekick with Bialkowski doing well to punch away under pressure, then seconds before the whistle they had a chance to claim the win.
Feeney broke away on the left and turned the ball back to Knudsen with Pitman unmarked in the area and screaming for the ball.
However, the Dane opted to shoot from distance, well wide as it turned out, rather than pass, much to the anger of the striker, who made his frustration very clear in the remaining moments before the referee’s whistle and manager Mick McCarthy had to say a few calming words as he made his way onto the pitch to issue his usual handshakes.
In normal circumstances the result would be a good one for the Blues but only a win would have been enough to keep them in a play-off hunt which in any case looked unlikely.
Goalscorer Dozzell will make all the headlines and he played a role in creating his equaliser as well as scoring it and never seemed overawed by his call into senior football.
Town having got back on terms both sides had chances, with Bialkowski the more stretched of the two keepers, and a draw was probably a fair reflection of the second half, although Town could - and probably should - have won it at the last had Knudsen picked out Pitman.
The Blues remain eighth, still eight points from the play-offs but only a remarkable series of results could now see them finish in the top six for a second successive season.
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood, Hunt, Loovens, Lees, Pudil, Wallace, Bannan, Lopez (Hooper 76), Lee, Joao (Nuhiu 84), Forestieri. Unused: Wildsmith, Sasso, Bennett, McGugan, Matias.
Town: Bialkowski, Chambers, Smith, Berra, Knudsen, Douglas, Bru (Pitman 75), Foley (Dozzell 46), Feeney, Sears, McGoldrick. Unused: Gerken, Digby, Kenlock, McDonnell, Pringle. Robert Madley (West Yorkshire). Att 25,082.
Photo: Action Images
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