Sheffield Wednesday striker Leon Clarke notched his second goal in as many appearances as a fortunate Wednesday side overcame a dominant Doncaster one to leave Rovers firmly planted to the bottom of the division – while Wednesday climbed up to 11th place ahead of Watford vs Swansea.
Wednesday kept the same side that got a well-earned point at Selhurst Park last weekend, while Doncaster made three changes to the side that were unlucky not to have taken 3 points against Swansea. Richie Wellens and John Spicer were brought in for James Hayter and Lewis Guy, while Sam Hird stepped in for the injured Shelton Martis.
It was Doncaster who started the brighter side, with Hird’s header from a free kick matched by rumoured Manchester United target, Wednesday keeper Lee Grant. They then had chances as Richie Wellens’ shot was deflected away by Mark Beevers, before Matt Mills headed wide from a Doncaster corner. However it was then the Owls turn to attack, with Neil Sullivan tipping over James O’Connor’s shot from Marcus Tudgay’s flick. Wednesday continued their fantastic link up play, and Clarke and Buxton’s move set up Tudgay, who’s rasping shot was saved by experienced keeper Sullivan.
After many minutes of both South Yorkshire sides cancelling each other out, Etienne Esajas earned a free kick for Wednesday on 43 minutes, halfway into the Rovers half. The Dutch winger took the free kick himself, swinging in an accurate cross, perfect for Leon Clarke, who had lost his marker. The former Wolves striker had no problem bulleting a header past Sullivan from 6 yards.
The sides went in at the break with Wednesday 1-0 up, and Doncaster having a mountain to climb – especially with Rovers having not scored 2 goals in one game all season. Doncaster brought on strikers James Hayter and Lewis Guy, and the move brought life back into the game, with both having chances to put Doncaster at least level. Defender Hird was again amongst the action, but his header from Gareth Roberts’ free kick was just the wrong side of the post.
Sheffield Wednesday tried to get themselves back into the run of play, with O’Connor missing from 30 yards and Clarke and McAllister squandering half chances. The Owls then had the perfect chance to double their advantage, as Clarke raced past the defence, but with Tudgay and Jermaine Johnson perfectly placed for a cross, the goalscorer fluffed his lines and wasted the opportunity.
But Doncaster were quickly back into the game, with Spicer narrowly missing and Wellens bringing the best out of Grant. With around 10 minutes to go, Lewis Guy skimmed the crossbar with a great chance, and with one minute to go, James Hayter missed from 6 years, which pretty much summed up Doncaster’s performances so far this season.
Despite a fantastic display from Doncaster, they could not break through a very well organised Sheffield Wednesday defence. They continued their run, which now stretches to 12 games without a win. The Owls, however, ended their run of four without claiming the maximum points – a pleasing result, if not perfomance, for manager Brian Laws’ 100th game in charge of the Sheffield club.
Sheffield Wednesday 1 (L. Clarke 43) Doncaster Rovers 0
Attendance at Hillsborough, Sheffield: 20872
Referee: L. Mason
Grant, Buxton (sub: McMahon HT), Wood, Beevers, Spurr, McAllister, Watson, O’Connor, Esajas (sub: Johnson 66), Clarke (sub: Sodje 77), Tudgay
(unused subs: Burton, Small)
Manager: Brian Laws
Sullivan, O’Connor, Roberts, Mills, Hird, Stock, Wilson (sub: Hayter HT), Woods (sub: Guy HT), Wellens, Spicer, Price (sub: Heffernan 84)
(unused subs: Elliott, Greer)
Manager: Sean O’Driscoll
Will van de Noort