Fate in the cards

Sheffield Wednesday 0 Derby County 0 Attendance: 23,934
Click to follow
WEDNESDAY'S bright start looks a falser dawn by the minute. Those four wins that launched their season are hard to reconcile with a disjointed performance which might have ended in a third straight defeat.

The flow of the match was not helped by the referee, who issued nine yellow cards when only two were needed. None was more bizarre than that shown to Wednesday's Mark Pembridge, booked for taking free-kicks before the Derby wall had retreated 10 yards. And in each instance Pembridge was allowed another go.

The Welshman was taken off a few minutes later. David Pleat, Wednesday's manager, said afterwards that his player had a damaged calf but it was a timely moment to withdraw him. The incident had put him off his stroke and he could have made his position worse had he stayed on the field.

In his place, Pleat sent on the Dutchman, Orlando Trustfull, yet to be established in the Premiership. Des Walker and Dejan Stefanovic, fundamental to their defence, shrugged off injury worries and yet looked vulnerable at the back. Going forward, they relied more on enthusiasm than craft.

Derby might have scored twice in the first eight minutes. Marco Gabbiadini squandered a gift after only 35 seconds, heading against the bar when Chris Powell's cross from the left found him unmarked. The chance passed up by Christian Dailly was less clear-cut but again illustrated Wednesday's uncertainty in defence.

A greasy surface made some of the tackles look alarming and the referee Graham Barber, in charge of only his third Premiership match, might have made more allowance for the conditions. Several of the eight players he cautioned apart from Pembridge probably felt hard done by, although the Warwick official was correct to disallow Andy Booth's header in the 72nd minute when goalkeeper Russell Hoult was clearly fouled.

Wednesday had more attempts on Hoult's goal than Kevin Pressman had to deal with at the other end, with Booth and David Hirst each going close twice. But Derby always looked capable of inflicting damage on the break and it took fine saves by Pressman at the end of each half to deny Dean Sturridge and the adventurous Dailly.