Barrett keeps Wednesday's drive to play-offs ticking over

Sheffield Wednesday 2 - Torquay United 2

At face value, this was an invaluable point for Torquay United as they struggle to avoid returning to League Two a year after being promoted. After all, they had won only two of their previous 15 games and were facing a buoyant Sheffield Wednesday, who are surely destined for the play-offs come May.

At face value, this was an invaluable point for Torquay United as they struggle to avoid returning to League Two a year after being promoted. After all, they had won only two of their previous 15 games and were facing a buoyant Sheffield Wednesday, who are surely destined for the play-offs come May.

But having established a two-goal advantage early in the second half through their leading scorer Adebayo Akinfenwa and Steve Woods, the South Coast side missed a rare opportunity to close in on the teams above the bottom four.

So bereft were Wednesday of inspiration in the opening 45 minutes that Paul Sturrock, their manager, said: "I'm writing a memo to the Football League asking if we can only play second halves." But once Lee Bullen had volleyed Wednesday back into the game they were rejuvenated and Graham Barrett, making his debut after his loan switch from Coventry, completed the comeback on the hour. Thereafter, it was merely a case of whether or not Wednesday could force a winner. "Every game is difficult at this stage of the season because there's so much at stake," said Sturrock. "As long as we are in the top six at the end of the season, I will be very happy - beggars can't be choosers."

Torquay gave early signs of their intentions with a host of presentable chances in the opening quarter and should have taken the lead rather earlier than they eventually did.

Akinfenwa was played in by the impressive Tony Bedeau after 15 minutes, but his side-footed finish was lacking in conviction and bobbled wide. They went ahead when Matthew Hamshaw's attempt to drive his side forward resulted in him losing possession and, with Wednesday committed upfield, the breaking Bedeau was able to advance 40 yards down the right wing.

He curled an inviting cross into the path of Akinfenwa, who finished well from eight yards for his 12th goal of the season. It was no more than Torquay deserved, and they doubled their lead just after the interval. Quite what the Wednesday defence were doing when Alex Russell floated a free-kick to the back post is a mystery, but Woods took advantage of a completely free header for his second goal of the season.

"Take nothing away from Torquay, I thought they were excellent, especially in the first half," said Sturrock. "They are a much better side than their position suggests."

Wednesday were in need of inspiration and it arrived from their captain. Bullen found space at the back post and had time to control Hamshaw's cross before volleying into the top corner from eight yards.

Having found their way back into the game, it took Wednesday just six minutes to draw level. Hamshaw's corner found Richard Wood and he presented Barrett with a free header from close range.

Belatedly, Wednesday came to life. Barrett's clever through ball found Lee Peacock, who should have done rather better than fire over the bar. In the closing minutes James Quinn's shot was blocked on the line by Russell as Wednesday attempted to complete an improbable comeback.

It would have been more than they deserved and, having been deprived of the win, Torquay were at least able to take a point back to Devon.

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