REPORT: Wanderers v Sheffield Wednesday

MJ Williams was Wanderers’ unlikely saviour as his first goal for the club completed another successful comeback from the battling Whites.

Williams hadn’t found the net in his previous 60 appearances for Wanderers.

But the midfield anchorman sums up his side’s never-say-die spirit as well as anyone and he popped up in the final minute to drill the ball home and extend Wanderers’ unbeaten run to four games.

It’s now three matches in a row when Ian Evatt’s men have come from behind to spike the guns of a side chasing promotion.

And while Evatt doesn’t want Wanderers to keep conceding the opening goal – as they did to Jordan Storey’s 65th-minute strike for the Owls – he will have no complaints at the way his side refuses to give up.

Williams goal.jpg

In reality Wanderers have little left to play for – bar a top-10 finish. But that is on the cards after they again refused to accept their fate to add another late goal to their growing collection and avoid only a third home defeat since the turn of the year.

With Dapo Afolayan only fit enough to make the bench and Ricardo Almeida Santos and Kyle Demspey both out injured, Wanderers made three changes to the side that had hit back to draw with Portsmouth in mid-week, including the return of Williams for a key role in every department.

Wednesday were the latest to bring their play-off credentials to the University of Bolton Stadium and they started like a team intent on nailing down that place.

Ex-Wanderers’ loanee Barry Bannan had three early sights of goal, although only one required a save from James Trafford.

Williams Jones celebration.jpg

And Nathaniel Mendez-Laing – later denied by a decent stop from Trafford with a header from Bannan’s free-kick – then missed a straightforward chance when he mis-kicked in front of goal from Jack Hunt’s pull-back.

Wanderers hadn’t helped their cause by losing possession in key areas but they gradually worked their way into the contest and had chances of their own to go in front.

When Wednesday were guilty of giving the ball away, Dion Charles broke clear and saw a shot blocked with Kieran Sadlier’s follow-up bringing a fine save from Bailey Peacock-Farrell, who touched the ball over the bar.

From the corner that followed, Sadlier made space for another shot which was blocked in front of goal and then a minute before the break Jon Dadi Bodvarsson – who operated in a slightly deeper role – glanced a header wide from Aaron Morley’s perfectly delivered free-kick.

There was still time for Wednesday to create another opening on the break but Will Aimson came to Wanderers’ rescue with a superb block from Mendez-Laing to cap a decent first half from the defender as the Whites reverted to a flat back four.

Wednesday celebrations.jpg

In a nip-and-tuck start to the second half Aimson had a chance at the other end as he headed over a corner from Morley shortly after Charles had the ball in the net with an effort ruled out for off-side.

But it was Wednesday who made the breakthrough with 65 minutes gone from a corner of their own as Jordan Storey bundled the ball home - possibly from an offisde posititon - after a header from substitute Callum Paterson had come back off a post.

Needing a response, Evatt made his final substitution as he gave Xavier Amaechi a chance to make his presence felt.

It was tough going trying to reverse the momentum as Bannan missed a chance to wrap things up for the visitors.

But Wanderers – with George Johnston again rock-solid at the back – stayed in the contest to mount a late push.

Williams celebration Aimson.jpg

And they were rewarded for their persistence when Morley’s corner wasn’t cleared and Williams pounced to fire the ball home from 10 yards to create his own little bit of history with a first goal since an FA Cup strike for Rochdale in January, 2020 and his first in League football.

It was no more than he’s deserved.

Wanderers: Trafford; Jones, Aimson, Johnston; John (Gordon 64); Williams, Morley; Kachunga, Bodvarsson (Bakayoko 56), Sadlier (Amaechi, 73); Charles. Substitutes: Dixon, Afolayan, Thomason, Baptiste.

Booked: Johnston, Jones, Gordon, Kachunga

Sheffield Wednesday: Peacock-Farrell; Storey, Dean, Hutchinson; Hunt, Byers (Paterson 62), Luongo, Johnson; Bannan; Gregory, Mendez-Laing (Berahino 62). Substitutes: Wildsmith, Palmer, Iorfa, Shodipo, Dele-Bashiru.

Booked: Dean, Hunt

Referee: Carl Brook

Attendance: 19,164 (Wednesday 5,134)

Read Time: 4 mins