Sheffield Wednesday made a lack-lustre start to their First Division season at Hillsborough last night, being comfortably outplayed a more incisive Burnley side whose victory was sealed in the second-half when a penalty, originally saved by Chris Stringer, had to be retaken and Paul Cook added the second goal.
Wednesday, having finally parted company with most of the highly paid retinue who failed to keep them in the Premiership, face the task of getting back there at the second attempt with a leaner but, it is to be hoped, hungrier squad.
They certainly wasted no time in making their intentions clear. One of their two close-season signings, the former Queen's Park Rangers defender Danny Maddix, latched onto Leigh Bromby's free-kick. His shot came back off a post and the Belgian striker Gerard Sibon, one of the few survivors from Wednesday's Premiership days, forced the ball over the line but his effort was disallowed for an infringement.
Burnley, forced to embark on the new campaign with a squad already depleted by injury, suspension and international call- ups, soon steadied the ship. Despite the absence of key players such as Dimitrios Papadopolous, Kevin Ball, Graham Branch and Mitchell Thomas they still had the air of a side who missed the play-offs by just one place last season.
Their five-man midfield denied Wednesday much creative space and Paul Weller should have done better than hoist the ball over the bar when Ian Moore gave him a clear run on goal after six minutes. The midfield congestion made progress difficult for both sides and set-pieces continued to pose the biggest threats.
Burnley managed to clear Ian Hendon's flighted free-kick and, at the other end, Ian Cox's header from Glen Little's corner narrowly missed the target.
Burnley's summer signing from Manchester City, the striker Gareth Taylor, saw his scuffed shot rebound the wrong way off an upright before the two captains summed up an error-strewn first-half by both missing from close range.
Burnley's Steve Davis rounded off a goalmouth mêlée by shooting wide and Wednesday's Trond Soltvedt scooped the ball over the bar with only goalkeeper Nik Michopoulos to beat.
Burnley finally got it right 12 minutes into the second period when Gordon Armstrong's cross from the left found Taylor unmarked on the edge of the penalty area and his looping header fell beyond the goalkeeper Chris Stringer and into the far corner of the net.
The Clarets sealed victory in controversial fashion when Sibon tripped Little to concede a penalty. Cook's first kick was pushed round the post by Stringer, but the referee had seen an infringement and decided the kick had to be retaken. Cook made no mistake the second time, driving the ball into the roof of the net.
Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Stringer; Hendon (Lescott, 74), Maddix, Bromby, Geary; McLaren (Morrison, 59), Haslam, Soltvedt, Quinn (Di Piedi, 59); Sibon, Ekoku. Substitutes not used: Pressman (gk), Westwood.
Burnley (3-4-3): Michopoulos; West, Davis, Cox; Weller ( A Moore, 66), Cook, Briscoe, Armstrong; Little, I Moore, Taylor. Substitutes not used: Cennamo (gk), Payton, Gnohéré, Ellis.
Referee: P Dowd (Stoke).
Bookings: Burnley: Briscoe, West, Weller, A Moore. Wednesday: Hendon.
Man of the match: Cook.
Attendance: 21,766.Reuse content