Football: Owls saved by Woods

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The Independent Online
Middlesbrough. . . . . .1

Sheffield Wednesday. . .1

A MEND and make-do Middlesbrough side won a merited point with an eager display of fast, direct football, and might well have had all three but for the excellent Chris Woods.

Clearly on the rebound from their Kaiserslauten defeat, Wednesday, apart from the last 10 minutes, failed to produce anything like the kind of form that took them into Europe. David Hirst's absence with an ankle injury forced Trevor Francis to pair Paul Warhurst with Mark Bright, but the two never established a working empathy. Chris Waddle loitered alone and palely all afternoon until he was tripped by Jon Gittens in the box. However, referee Wright waved play on and Waddle's sole contribution to the game came to nothing.

Undaunted by their reduced circumstances the Boro had by far the best of the first half. So the visitors' goal after 29 minutes came as a surprise. Kernaghan missed Nigel Worthington's through ball, and the advancing Steven Pears slipped to give Bright the yard he needed to gather and convert.

Middlesbrough's answer was immediate. Tommy Wright danced past John Harkes and crossed perfectly for Paul Wilkinson to equaliseThe Owls had to rely on two memorable saves from Woods to reach the interval without further damage. In a bid to stifle their opponents' mounting confidence Francis introduced Gordon Watson for Warhurst in the second half. However, the substitution did little to alter the mood as the Boro continued to swarm forward.

Bernie Slaven could easily have grabbed the winner had he not nodded too finely following a six-man move. Then, with his third fine save of the match, Woods kept out Proctor's header.

Middlesbrough: S Pears; C Morris, J Phillips, A Kernaghan, C Fleming, J Gittens, B Slaven, M Proctor, P Wilkinson, G Kavanagh, T Wright. Subs not used: A Moore, N Peverall, A Collett (gk). Manager: L Lawrence.

Sheffield Wednesday: C Woods; J Harkes, N Worthington, C Palmer, N Pearson, V Anderson, G Hyde, C Waddle, M Bright, C Bart-Williams, P Warhurst (G Watson, h/t). Subs not used: D Wilson, K Pressman (gk). Player-manager: T Francis.

Referee: P Wright (Northwich, Cheshire).

Goals: Bright (0-1, 29min); Wilkinson (1-1, 34min).

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