Wednesday woe as fate is now in hands of others
Cardiff City 3 Sheffield Wednesday 2
Sheffield Wednesday will be doomed to spend just their eighth season of a near 150-year history in the third tier of English football if Crystal Palace win at home tomorrow night. Relegation from the Championship is that close for the former top-flight giants after this gutsy but futile display in the Welsh capital.
It was a simple mission for Alan Irvine's men. Beat a Cardiff side who had already qualified for the play-offs and so ensure a winner-takes-all final weekend showdown against Palace at Hillsborough in seven days' time. Wednesday might still get shot at salvation. But now they must count on the already-promoted West Bromwich to go away with at least a point from a throbbing Selhurst Park.
"I will go the game and obviously be praying that Palace don't win," said their manager. "It'll be a long 90 minutes for them and a long 90 minutes for me. Everybody in our dressing room is very low at the moment. We wanted to keep it our own hands, but now we're relying on somebody else to do the job for us. All we can do is hope. We can no longer control it."
For their part, Cardiff extended their unbeaten run to 10 games, including seven wins. They are destined to enter football's richest lottery on a roll, with so many big players in such big form. Yesterday it was Jay Bothroyd whose number came up, the former Arsenal trainee's two goals encapsulating an impressive performance. More than anyone he extinguished the visitors' spirit.
The Owls' hoots were twice short-lived. There was just 90 seconds between Jermaine Johnson's opener and Peter Whittingham's reply and then three minutes between Marcus Tudgay's equaliser and Bothroyd's match-winner. Johnson had gone past the rooted home defence to steer in Tom Soares's cross in the 16th minute, before the Cardiff midfielder's free-kick left Lee Grant stranded. This was the 20th of the season for the Championship's leading scorer. Not too shabby for a midfielder.
Except it was a classic centre-forward who set the striking standard on this afternoon. If Bothroyd's finishing touches to Stephen McPhail's 50-yard defence- splitter in the 54th minute were clinical, then his drift and strike from the edge of the area with nine minutes remaining was the game's highlight. In between, Etienne Esajas had put in Tudgay to level from an acute angle.
In the last seconds, Esajas believed he had rescued a point when his 30-yard strike hit the bar. As it was, with Watford beating Reading, the draw would have made no difference to the equation. But he put his head on his hands anyway.
"I still think it'll go to the last game of the season," said the Cardiff manager, Dave Jones. Irvine did not look so confident.
Latest in Sport
Barbarians vs Samoa interrupted by sprinklers as fans criticise lack of Wi-Fi and poor seating at West Ham's Olympic Stadium
Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger 'optimistic' of making signing, Grzegorz Krychowiak and Edinson Cavani linked
John Stones to Chelsea: Next season's bumper TV deal means clubs such as Everton can say 'no'
Chelsea 1 Crystal Palace 2 player ratings: Who was to blame for Chelsea's defeat? Did Pedro impress on his home debut? Sako and Ward star
Kevin De Bruyne: Why do Manchester City put such a high value on a player Chelsea rejected?
- 1 The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
- 2 Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
- 3 Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
- 4 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 5 iPhone 5c to be discontinued, no iPhone 6c to replace it
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Stock up on canned food for stock market crash, warns former Gordon Brown adviser
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn voters most likely to believe 'world is controlled by a secretive elite'