Football FA Cup: Booth'sstrike boosts Wilson

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Sheffield Wednesday 1

Booth 24

Bristol City 0

Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 11,644

IF DANNY WILSON could be granted one wish for his 40th birthday on New Year's Day it would probably involve the millennium bug and the computer at Premier League headquarters which officially logs the top- division table.

Already semi-detached from the Premiership, Sheffield Wednesday and their manager are not far away from needing the football equivalent of snookers to stay in the top-flight frame. Unfortunately for them, there were no points to put on the board for sinking Bristol City at Hillsborough yesterday.

Having tiptoed nervously through the second half, however, Wednesday had reason to be grateful simply to have safely negotiated what their manager described as a "banana skin" of a third-round FA Cup tie. A 24th-minute header by Andy Booth ultimately proved sufficient to overcome spirited Second Division opposition, but it was not an entirely happy day at the office for Wilson.

A gate of 11,644, boosted by a 3,000-strong Bristol contingent, reflected a growing apathy among Wednesdayites. And the Wednesday players, though promising in patches before the break, went missing at times in the second half - Alan Quinn literally so. An 89th-minute substitute for Gilles de Bilde, he was then red-carded in injury time for raising an elbow as he challenged Shaun Taylor. "It was just over-enthusiasm by the lad," Wilson said in mitigation. "There was no malice intended but he did lead with his elbow. Mike Reed had no option but to send him off, really."

Wilson had no option but to declare himself satisfied with what was a rare sighting of an Owls victory. "It was a very good result for us, that," he said. He must have also been happy with the message of support he was given by his opposite number. "I'm pleased for Danny," Tony Pulis said. "I hope the result will help Wednesday turn the corner." The Bristol City manager has troubles of his own, not least the lingering fall-out from his dismissal by Gillingham in July, which had prompted him to issue a writ yesterday claiming pounds 400,000 in unpaid bonuses from the Kent club.

Pulis had problems on the pitch from the start yesterday, though Wednesday conspicuously failed to profit from the clear superiority they enjoyed in the first half. Their one tangible reward came in the 24th minute, Wim Jonk hoisting a cross from deep on the right and the unchallenged Booth applying the finishing touch with a close-range header.

Booth very nearly made it 2-0 with a glancing header before half-time and the single-goal advantage looked increasingly vulnerable as Wednesday suffered a serious loss of momentum after the break.

City had the Owls in a flutter for much of the second half, Brian Tinnion, Steve Torpey, Carl Hutchings and Scott Murray all coming within a whisker of an equaliser. Wednesday, though, held on to their Prem-iership pride - and their place in the Cup.

The Derek Dooley interview, page 14

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