Sheffield Wednesday 1 Manchester City 1: MacLean's sparkling finish pays dividends
Monday 08 January 2007
The Sheffield Wednesday striker Steve MacLean emphasised the value of patience as the resurgent Championship side deservedly earned a second crack at their Premier League opponents on a day on which the grand old Hillsborough ground summoned up an atmosphere to recall Cup ties past.
The 24-year-old former Rangers trainee impressed the new Wednesday manager Brian Laws during a loan spell at Scunthorpe three years ago but started the first eight games of his old boss's new job on the bench before being handed the opportunity to prove his value with a place in the starting line-up.
The goal that ensured Wednesday would be in today's draw was his third in four matches since Laws gave him his head on Boxing Day and provided the perfect response after Stuart Pearce's team had edged ahead with a penalty converted by Giorgios Samaras 12 minutes from time.
Coming within a minute of the Greek's spot-kick deflating the home majority in a 28,000 crowd, MacLean's strike, hit right-footed from 20 yards out on the wide left, brought an explosion of joy as it went in off the foot of a post and you felt the referee Graham Poll was being a something of a killjoy when he booked the striker for overcelebrating.
Laws might have wished his player had been prompted to risk worse minutes later after he had missed a chance, side-footing wide from a much better position, to clinch victory, but he was satisfied with a draw.
"I felt there was not much between the sides and if anything we were better, forcing City to change their formation for the second half, so we will go to the replay with confidence," he said. "It would have been a travesty if we had not got the equaliser, even though I had no complaint about the penalty.
"Steve MacLean took his goal really well. He has had to wait for his chance simply because Marcus Tudgay and Deon Burton had been causing havoc with their form but he knew he had to be patient and he has grabbed that chance with both hands." Pearce had no quarrel with his former Nottingham Forest team-mate over the outcome.
Wednesday, with Kenny Lunt and Glenn Whelan mobile and constructive in midfield and making good use of the flank players, had the better of the first half and the City manager abandoned his three-man midfield in favour of 4-4-2, although the defender Micah Richards remained in midfield.
In a more open second half, Wednesday needed the veteran on-loan goalkeeper Mark Crossley to come to their aid more than once but the home side went close when Sylvain Distin almost sliced an attempted clearance into his own net, and they kept City on the back foot for much of the remainder.
When Manchester City won their penalty, Lunt bringing down Richards before Samaras drilled a low kick to Crossley's right, it seemed luck had granted Pearce's team a fourth successive victory but Wednesday's instantly positive response gained the reward it was due and the sides meet again a week on Wednesday.
Goals: Samaras pen (78 ) 0-1; MacLean (79) 1-1.
Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Crossley; Simek, Coughlan, Bullen, Spurr; Tudgay (Small, 76), Whelan, Lunt, Brunt; Burton, MacLean. Substitutes not used: Adamson (gk), O'Brien, Beevers, Folly.
Manchester City (3-5-2): Weaver; Onouha, Dunne, Distin; Trabelsi (Sinclair, h-t), Richards, Dabo (Dickov, 87), Beasley (Miller, 79), Jordan; Vassell, Samaras. Substitutes not used: Isaksson (gk), Corradi.
Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).
Booked: Sheff Wed Burton, MacLean; Man City Richards.
Man of the match: Lunt.
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