Yorath praises Wednesday's level best

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0
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The Independent Online

The uncommon parity of a mediocre First Division was clearly illustrated on a grey afternoon in Wolverhampton, where the promotion-chasing home side were more than matched by relegation-threatened opponents.

Wolves started the match in third place and Wednesday third from bottom, but the gap was never evident in a dour encounter whose final whistle was greeted by loud jeers from the home supporters in Molineux's lowest League crowd of the season.

Frustration is a perennial feeling amongst Wolves' expectant followers, but Wednesday fans have similarly suffered in recent seasons. And in Terry Yorath's first game as full-time manager of the Owls, it was the visitors who had most to cheer as they continued their quest to drag themselves away from the foot of the table.

The self-belief that had begun to show in Yorath's six-match stint in a caretaker capacity blossomed after a nervous opening yesterday.

Wolves pressed in the early stages but were unable to produce anything more potent than Shaun Newton's 15th minute shot which was comfortably saved by Kevin Pressman. It took Wednesday until midway through the first half to make an impact, but when they did so they posed far more of a threat.

Gerald Sibon struck a 25 yard drive just wide then, in the 25th minute, set up strike partner Simon Donnelly for a shot which goalkeeper Michael Oakes blocked with his legs.

Newton miserably missed a fine opening five minutes after the interval, volleying well wide from substitute Andy Sinton's cross, and Cedric Roussel similarly fluffed a chance to volley home from Colin Cameron's free kick.

Between those two incidents, however, both Sibon and winger Owen Morrison failed to hit the target while Wednesday might also have been awarded a 63rd minute penalty.

Television replays proved that the central defender Joleon Lescott had tripped Morrison, whose protests simply earned him a booking from the referee, Scott Mathieson.

Morrison then produced the cross from which Sibon missed Wednesday's simplest opening of the game, his six-yard header flew over the bar.

A goal at that stage would have given Wednesday a victory which would not have been undeserved and would not have been contested by the Wolves manager, Dave Jones. "Credit to Wednesday," he said, "they didn't come to shut up shop, they came to win. But we missed our big-time players and it's a good job my two centre-halves were on it, otherwise we could have got turned over."

Yorath was unhappy about the penalty decision. He said: "I'm quite convinced Morrison was brought down just inside the penalty area. That's the sort of break you need to go your way, but I was pleased with our performance – we worked hard and looked solid. It shows it's an even League. There's not an outstanding team in it."

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Oakes; Connelly, Butler, Lescott, Naylor; Newton (Robinson, 78), Rae, Cameron, Kennedy (Sinton, 8); Roussel, Proudlock (Branch, 64). Substitutes not used: Pollet, Murray.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Pressman; Geary, Westwood (Hamshaw, ht), Bromby, O'Donnell; Quinn (McLaren, 71), Haslam, Soltvedt, Morrison; Donnelly, Sibon (Crane, 85). Substitutes not used: Stringer, Di Piedi.

Referee: S Mathieson (Stockport)

Attendance: 19,947.

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