Football: Wednesday miss Hirst

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Wednesday. . .0

Manchester City. . . . .3

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY may play some stylish football, but it was no match yesterday for the robust Manchester City. Despite the elegance of Chris Bart-Williams, it was City's industrious player-manager, Peter Reid, who won the midfield, coaxing his side to a three-goal lead before giving way to Steve McMahon in the 76th minute.

Wednesday were without David Hirst and, although Paul Williams tried valiantly to compensate, their attack was like Wise without Morecambe - good build-up but no punchlines. The home side did, however, have an early flourish with a Williams header forcing a save from Tony Coton and a Wilson shot skimming the bar after a build-up involving half the side.

It seemed as if Wednesday might not be heading for their third defeat in a row, but their momentum was upset by a City goal courtesy of the back-pass rule.

It came after Mike Sheron broke down the left and wriggled between Nilsson and Pearson on the edge of the box. His angled drive rebounded from Woods to Pearson, who instinctively touched it back to his goalkeeper's hands. The free-kick from six yards was touched by Reid to White, who drove the ball home.

It was a harsh punishment for what could scarcely be called time-wasting, but it should not have caused Wednesday to lose their shape so completely. In the second half City capitalised on their disarray with a headed goal by Michel Vonk and then a seventh of the season by David White.

Francis afterwards held his team in the dressing room for 50 minutes. He emerged to say he would ponder over the weekend on recalling himself.

Sheffield Wednesday: C Woods; R Nilsson (J Harkes, 40 min), D Wilson (T Francis, 65 min), C Palmer, N Pearson, P Warhurst, G Watson, C Bart-Williams, C Waddle, P Williams, N Worthington. Sub not used: K Pressman (gk). Manager: T Francis.

Manchester City: T Coton; I Brightwell, T Phelan, P Reid (S McMahon, 76 min), K Curle, M Vonk, D White, G Flitcroft, M Sheron, F Simpson, R Holden. Subs not used: A Mike, M Margetson (gk). Manager: P Reid.

Referee: R Bigger (Norfolk).

Goals: White (1-0, 20 min); White (2-0, 56 min); Vonk (3-0, 75 min).