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Match Reports

Match Report : 20/09/2014

20 September 2014

Smash and grab at Hillsborough

  • Murray sees first half spotkick saved
  • Murray hits crossbar with close range header
  • Westwood makes top saves from Cooper & Blackman
  • May's cruelly deflected free kick wins it for Owls
Sheffield Wednesday stole all three points in front of nearly 30,000 at Hillsborough this afternoon, stealing victory with a cruelly deflected Stevie May free kick that debutant Mikkel Andersen could do nothing about.

Glenn Murray won and took a first half penalty, but an inspired performance from Owls keeper Keiren Westwood started with a save from that spotkick, and he did brilliantly to keep out Jake Cooper's close range header in the second half.

Murray's header looped onto the crossbar soon after and Westwood denied Blackman's 30-yard free kick with a full stretch save, but May's lucky winner earned the hosts three points.

First Half

The first shot at target came from the right boot of Glenn Murray. The striker was on the end of a lovely one-two with Simon Cox and skipped in between two defenders only to see his effort deflect wide for a corner.

Norwood's inswinging set piece was met by the head of the towering Jake Cooper but he couldn't glance his near post effort on target.

Ten minutes in and Stevie May got Wednesday's first effort away, but from a narrow angle he could only fizz an effort across the face of goal and wide of the far post, Andersen untroubled.

Taylor scurried in from the left flank and beat to men, but the ball bobbled away from him before he could get a shot in and Tom Lees was able to hack the ball clear.

Murray then appealed for a penalty as he was barged in the back on the edge of the area by Palmer, then May asked the same question at the other end when he fell over Pearce's shoulder-to-shoulder challenge inside the area. Neither were considered by the referee.

Cox battled past his man down the right in a high-tempo start to the first half that refused to let up. He centred a low cross that ricocheted off a Wednesday leg, into Murray, and pinballed inches wide of the right post.

On the half hour mark, the Royals had a golden opportunity to take the lead. A superb first time flick from Cox found the run of Murray who was pushed over by Giles Coke before he could pull the trigger. Referee Mark Heywood pointed to the spot and Murray got the ball for the penalty, but Westwood saved well with his legs and got up to pick the loose ball out of the air before the striker could get a second bite at the cherry.

Just before half time, a Norwood crossfield pass opened up play and Blackman fed Hope Akpan, who touched the ball onto his left foot and then shot only for it to be charged down on the edge of the box.

With three minutes of injury time signalled, there was still time for Nick Blackman to win a free kick which Norwood dinked into the box. Cooper nodded it down but it bounced up too high for Blackman to hook an effort on target.

Second Half

Wednesday began the second half on the front foot, winning a corner from the restart which was cleverly played into Mattock who's left-footed effort was blocked by a crowd of bodies in the six yard box. Nuhiu recycled it but May couldn't direct his volley on target.

Wednesday fans appealed for a penalty soon after when a cross from the left whistled across the face of goal and Nuhiu went down under pressure from Cooper on the edge of the six yard box, but nothing was awarded.

But the Royals were unlucky not to take the lead from a corner. Norwood's deep deliver was headed back across goal by Pearce and Cooper yards out headed it on target only to see Westwood produce a stunning save to somehow shovel it over his bar.

Then, from the same source, the visitors struck the bar. Norwood's corner, again was met by Pearce's head, and this time Murray got his head to it above Westwood but it spun onto the crossbar and the Owls hurriedly cleared the danger.

At the other end, May and Nuhiu combined, the former crossing from the right for the latter to arrow a volley just wide as he arrived on it 15 yards out. Then May tried his luck from 25 yards, but it skidded wide of Andersen's right post.

Blackman came so so close to breaking the deadlock with 20 minutes remaining, hooking a loose ball that Wednesday had failed to clear towards goal only for a deflection to take it just wide of the bottom left corner. Pearce then headed wide as Reading pressed for the winner.

Westwood, a clear candidate for man of the match, made another superb save to push a wonderful 30-yard free kick from Nick Blackman wide of his right post.

But with nine minutes left, May's drilled free kick took a wicked deflection past the helpless Andersen and fizzed into the bottom right corner to give the home side a largely undeserved advantage.

With a vociferous crowd right behind them, Wednesday looked to kill of the game and Andersen did well to somehow clear a frantic goalmouth scramble with five minutes left.

Reading threw the kitchen sink at their hosts, Pearce's cross blocked by a hand in the area but no penalty awarded, then Obita's deflected effort from range skidding wide.

Wednesday almost put the points in the bag with a late Semedo run and Hallam Hope arrowing over from close range, but Obita did enough to force him to angle his effort on the slide over the bar.

Guthrie's last gasp free kick was cleared and Stuart Gray's men were celebrating an unlikely win when the final whistle echoed around Hillsborough.

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