Football: Palmer hits his stride

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Wednesday. .2

Oldham Athletic. . . .1

THE failings of England's strikers in midweek suggest that Trevor Francis may not be the only manager pleased to see David Hirst back in the Wednesday attack after injury. Hirst, although lacking match fitness and an obvious rapport with his new striking partner Mark Bright, demonstrated his old ability to shield the ball in forward positions and run at defenders before he was substituted on the hour. He was unlucky not to mark his return with a goal when a powerful run ended with his shot rebounding off the post into the arms of Jon Hallworth.

But another of Graham Taylor's hopefuls, Carlton Palmer, had better luck with a similar run. Picking up the ball on the half-way line, he thought about passing back to Chris Woods before embarking on a gangling, 30-yard saunter through retreating defenders and scoring off the post from the edge of the box after 10 minutes.

It was no more than Wednesday deserved. Bright had already seen a goal disallowed when he turned in Chris Waddle's cross, but he was to increase the lead after 17 minutes. After Richard Jobson allowed Hirst to charge down his clearance, Bright chipped over the stranded Hallworth.

Oldham's neat approach work had yielded nothing more than a Paul Bernard header that flashed wide when Paul Warhurst bundled over Ian Olney on the stroke of half-time. Woods kept out Nick Henry's penalty, but Mick Milligan followed up to head in the loose ball.

That disturbed Wednesday's rhythm, and Oldham's combative approach - which earned Olney and Milligan bookings - gave them an increasing edge in the second half. Wednesday survived a barnstorming finish but they will have to be more consistent if they are to become the second Yorkshire side to overcome German opposition when they go to Kaiserslautern on Tuesday.

Sheffield Wednesday: C Woods; P Warhurst, N Worthington, C Palmer, P Shirtliff, V Anderson, J Harkes, C Waddle (G Watson, 83 min), D Hirst (D Wilson, 59 min), C Bart-Williams, M Bright. Sub not used: K Pressman (gk). Player- manager: T Francis.

Oldham Athletic: J Hallworth; G Halle, N Pointon, N Henry, R Jobson, S Redmond, A Barlow (N Adams, 38 min), I Olney, G Sharp, M Milligan, P Bernard. Subs not used: J Keeley (gk), C Flemming. Manager: J Royle.

Referee: R Groves (Weston-super-Mare).

Goals: Palmer (1-0, 10 min); Bright (2-0, 17 min); Milligan (2-1, 45 min).