Football: Bleak future without Di Canio

Sheffield Wednesday 0 Everton 0
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The Independent Online
JUST AS Sheffield's best-known product comes with the word "stainless" attached, this match had "goal-less" written all over it from the start.

Both sides have lost the knack of scoring and as Everton rarely do anything but draw these days and Wednesday had not done so all season and so were overdue for one, the writing was on the wall in letters 10 feet high.

It was a dour encounter that fully lived down to expectations, with defences in the ascendant, creativity at a premium and even the foul weather failing to induce the errors that might have broken the deadlock.

Wednesday's problems in the striking department are well documented, but with the delinquent Paolo Di Canio joined on the sidelines by the injured Benito Carbone and Petter Rudi, the service to their front runners was never going to be of the silver variety.

Andy Hinchcliffe, pushed up into midfield to try to fill the creativity gap, was the nearest thing to a playmaker Wednesday could muster, but neither Andy Booth nor Ritchie Humphreys came close to scoring their first League goals of the season, hard though the twin strikers worked.

The Wednesday manager, Danny Wilson, needed no reminding that buying a quality striker must now be his top priority, but despite having the cash at his disposal he is not finding it easy.

"Premiership clubs are not keen to release a quality player to us who may come back to haunt them. It is very frustrating," Wilson said.

"Facing 11 games without Di Canio will be difficult. Paolo is not an out-and-out striker - but he opens teams up and that is what we missed today."

The problem of the Everton manager, Walter Smith, is not one of personnel, but of penetration. In Duncan Ferguson he has one of the Premiership's most feared strikers, and either Ibrahima Bakayoko or Danny Cadamateri can complement the Scottish captain's strength with their pace and mobility. Yet Everton have now failed to score in seven of their 10 League matches, five of which have ended as no-score draws.

Bakayoko had a rasping shot palmed over the bar by Kevin Pressman and Cadamarteri was sporadically threatening when he replaced the Ivory Coast striker towards the end, but Ferguson rarely shook off the close attention of Emerson Thome, and when he did it was to send a powerful header over the bar and skew a volley painfully wide.

"We had one or two opportunities near the end where we might have got the points but Wednesday could have snatched it themselves," Smith added. "The performance was down on what we've been used to over the past few weeks.

"It is disappointing that we haven't been scoring goals but we will just have to keep working away at that aspect of our game," the former Rangers manager added. There were plenty in the Hillsborough crowd of either persuasion who would have said "Amen" to that.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Pressman; Atherton, Thome, Walker, Briscoe; Alexandersson, Hinchcliffe, Jonk, Sonner; Booth, Humphreys. Substitutes not used: Newsome, Whittingham, Sanetti, Magilton, Clarke (gk).

Everton (4-4-2): Myhre; Cleland, Watson, Unsworth, Ball; Hutchison, Dacourt, Collins, Materazzi; Bakayoko (Cadamarteri, 69), Ferguson. Substitutes not used: Grant, Ward, Milligan, Gerrard (gk).

Referee: J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees).

Bookings: Sheffield Wednesday: Sonner. Everton: Dacourt, Unsworth, Collins, Materazzi, Cadamateri.

Man of the match: Hinchcliffe.

Attendance: 26,592.

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