Opposition watch: Sheffield Wednesday

The low-down on this weekend's opponents in Wanderers' final away game of the season

A fixture which was played for the first time in 12 years when the two sides met at Hillsborough last season, Sheffield Wednesday currently hold the upper hand with 51 victories as opposed to Wanderers 37 in all competitions.

With the Whites running out 2-1 winners however on a sunny afternoon in the Steel City in September 2012 courtesy of goals from Marcos Alonso and Mark Davies, the Bolton faithful will certainly be hoping for a case of déjà vu come kick off this weekend.

An Alex Baptiste own goal earned the Owls a share of the spoils in this season’s earlier meeting at the Reebok Stadium, with the Bolton man’s misfortune cancelling out Jermaine Beckford’s third goal in the white of Wanderers.

With Wednesday currently enjoying their second successive season as a member of the second tier of English football, Stuart Gray’s side have already guaranteed their place in the Championship next season, currently sitting ten points clear of third bottom Blackpool with just two games remaining.

It has certainly been a campaign of change at Hillsborough however, with manager Dave Jones being relieved of his duties after 20 months in charge back in December after a poor run of results saw the Owls six points from safety following a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Seasiders.

A man who had helped the club return to the Championship after a two year exile in League One as runners-up behind Charlton Athletic in May 2012, Jones was replaced by his colleague Gray who took hold of the reins initially on a temporary basis.

After leading the Owls away from the relegation zone and to the fifth round of the FA Cup however, the former Barnsley and Aston Villa man was rewarded with a permanent contract.

A force not to be underestimated, the Hillsborough outfit have recorded a number of impressive results namely on home soil during the current campaign including an emphatic 6-0 victory over rivals Leeds United and a 3-0 win over promotion chasing Queens Park Rangers in recent months.

Having recorded nine victories to their name in front of their own supporters this season, the Owls have however been defeated as many times on their own turf, including surrendering a two goal advantage against Charlton in their last home game – a clash with saw Wanderers’ loanee Marvin Sordell notch a hat trick for the visitors.

It also seems safe to say that Saturday’s clash looks set to yield goals if nothing else, with Wednesday having found the back of the net 13 times in their last five outings.

Gray’s side’s inability to keep goals out though has cost them dearly on a number of occasions this term, with their record of 60 goals conceded meaning that they have the tenth leakiest defence in the league.

The form of frontman Chris Maguire has certainly been influential in the Owls’ upturn in fortunes, with the Scot having notched three times in his last four games to take his tally up to 12 for the season - equalling his best ever total for a single term that he managed for Aberdeen during the 2010/11 campaign.

With just a solitary position and two points separating the two sides ahead of kick off, both teams will no doubt be eager to finish their respective campaigns on a high with Wanderers themselves aiming for a clean sweep of victories on their travels in Yorkshire after picking up maximum points against Barnsley, Leeds United, Huddersfield Town and Doncaster respectively this year.
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