Report: Wanderers 0-1 Sheff Wed
There was no Boxing Day cheer for Wanderers, as a first-half header from Mamady Sidibe gave Sheffield Wednesday a 1-0 victory at the Reebok.
There were four changes from the side that lost at Peterborough four days ago. Stephen Warnock returned to Aston Villa after his loan deal expired, Kevin Davies served a one-match ban and Chung-Yong Lee and Jacob Butterfield both dropped to the bench.
The Whites lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, with starts for Tim Ream, who came in at centre-back, Martin Petrov and a strike partnership of David Ngog and Benik Afobe.
The game began with plenty of endeavour, but it was not until the 14th minute that the first effort on goal arrived. Ngog was allowed to run 40 yards with the ball, advancing into the opposition penalty area, and tested Chris Kirkland with a low drive.
Nine minutes later the Frenchman was again involved, using his strength to hold off a Wednesday defender and laying the ball off for Petrov, whose run took him into the area, but the winger got the ball stuck under his feet and couldn’t get the shot away.
Against the run of play, Wednesday took the lead in the 25th minute. A cross from the right flank was met by Sidibe, who powered his header past Adam Bogdan from ten yards out.
In first half stoppage time Afobe won a free-kick, causing Reda Johnson all sorts of problems down the right channel. Petrov blasted in a fierce set-piece which stung the hands of Kirkland, but the visitors were able to clear.
Wanderers came close to equalising seven minutes after the restart, as Afobe again out-muscled Johnson, before cutting the ball back from the goal-line. Ngog was in the middle, but couldn’t adjust his body to get enough of a connection on the ball and his effort flashed wide.
With 70 minutes on the clock the Whites again went close. Chris Eagles delivered a superb, curling ball in from the left-hand side and Afobe escaped his marker at the far post, but directed his header straight at Kirkland. The keeper parried the ball and it had to be hacked clear by the Wednesday defence.
The final 20 minutes saw Bolton pile men forward, but the Owls stood firm and held on for all three points.
Wanderers:Bogdan, Mears, Ream, Knight, Ricketts (Alonso 73), Andrews, Spearing, Eagles (Sordell 73), Petrov (Lee 66), Afobe, Ngog (Unused subs: Lonergan, Butterfield, Pratley, Riley)
Sheffield Wednesday: Kirkland, Buxton, Llera, Gardner, R. Johnson (Mattock 76), Lee, Prutton, McCabe, Antonio (J.Johnson 90), Helan, Sidibe (O’Grady 76) (Unused Subs: Bywater, Taylor, Lines, Madine)