Football: Francis finds relief in Wednesday's potential

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Wednesday. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Manchester City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

NOBODY knew whether to be frustrated or relieved. The Sheffield Wednesday manager, Trevor Francis, was in one mood because his side belatedly rescued a point, in the other because they should have had more. Brian Horton, of Manchester City, on the other hand, could scarcely conceal his delight that his team had got a draw they scarcely merited, while rueing their inabilty to hang on to their lead.

Both the pattern of the match and the comments afterwards perhaps reflected the extent of the sides' ambitions. Wednesday were anxious to please on the pitch, aware that something more was expected of them than they have so far delivered. City were there not to concede a goal, or at least not to do anything daft, and to try to steal a lead through their confident, under-served forwards.

Francis talked of how Wednesday had worked hard in training to make the team into a unit, of a growing belief, but most of all how he was heartened by a performance which had everything but the necessary. He was expansive.

Horton was pragmatic. He had left nothing to chance by telling his two wide midfield players not to push too far forward, but then wondered if the whole side had been too deep in the second half, eager to hold on to an unexpected lead.

Wednesday are making a tradition of beginning seasons badly before realising their expensive potential towards the end. There were at least signs here that they may peak earlier this season.

The tall blond cavalier Swede, Klas Ingesson, caught the eye through more than his looks when he came on for the second half. He had been given some paternity leave in the week and the missed training meant he was absent from the starting line-up. His enthusiasm and strength will be important assets.

So, too, might his understanding with David Hirst, a centre-forward blessed with pace, touch and proneness to injury. There was still enough deftness here to suggest, given 10 or so more matches, that he could return to his most imposing form.

Unambitious City took the lead seconds before half-time through an underworked Paul Walsh. They absorbed much later, and Tony Coton looked unbeatable until the deserved equaliser came from the substitute, Gordon Watson, a bouncy individual effort from the right of the penalty area.

Goals: Walsh (45) 0-1; Watson (77) 1-1.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Pressman; Atherton, Nolan, Pearce, Petrescu; Bart- Williams, Hyde, Sheridan, Sinton (Ingesson, 45); Hirst, Bright (Watson, 69). Substitute not used: Key (gk).

Manchester City (4-4-2): Coton; Edghill, Hill, Vonk, Lomas; Summerbee, McMahon, I Brightwell, Beagrie; Rosler (Quinn, 85), Walsh. Substitutes not used: Foster, Dibble (gk).

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).