Double de Bilde keeps Owls afloat

Click to follow

This draw left the Premiership's bottom dogs still propping up the table and, on this evidence, that is exactly where they deserve to be.

This draw left the Premiership's bottom dogs still propping up the table and, on this evidence, that is exactly where they deserve to be.

This was certainly a match neither side could afford to lose. For Sheffield Wednesday, Kevin Pressman was recalled after Pavel Srnicek's error-strewn performance at Leicester the previous week, but it was soon evident that Wednesday could not eradicate defensive mistakes simply by changing their goalkeeper.

Their back four was all over the place and Michel Ngongé would have taken advantage of their uncertainty within five minutes had his control been better when he found himself unmarked in front of goal.

But the pace of the Zairian and Nordin Wooter, his fellow striker, continued to discomfort Wednesday's big central defenders Emerson Thome and Des Walker, and Watford duly drew first blood when Ngongé played a neat one-two with Charlie Miller which caught Wednesday square at the back, and he beat the stranded Pressman with a precise five-foot shot after 21 minutes.

Watford's defenders inspired more little confidence but, when chances came Wednesday's way, they showed why they had scored in only one of their last nine Premiership games.

Wim Jonk came closest to improving that statistic, but Micah Hyde scrambled his header off the line and Thome could only thump the loose ball straight back at the Watford goalkeeper, Alec Chamberlain.

The rapport that had developed between the strikers, Andy Booth and Gilles de Bilde, during Wednesday's recent mini revival did not seem to have survived Booth's aborted move to Leicester and, after de Bilde had done all the hard work to carve out Wednesday's best opportunity of a scrappy first half, he miscued his final pass to his unmarked partner.

Chamberlain had to race off his line to deny de Bilde when he burst clear early in the second half, but when the Belgian finally got on to the scoresheet it was from a penalty awarded after James Panayi handled when he seemed to be under no pressure.

Goals come so rarely for Wednesday, however, that they had probably forgotten that a team is at its most vulnerable when it has just scored and within two minutes they had left the back door open again.

Hyde floated a free-kick to the far post, where nobody had spotted the arrival of the Watford defender and captain Robert Page, who recorded his first League goal with a close range header.

But with 10 minutes left, de Bilde finally scored in open play when he burst into the Watford penalty area to beat Chamberlain with a clinically low right foot shot.

Comments