Plucky Owls hold Magpies
O'Connor header earns hosts a point
Last Updated: 26/12/09 3:13pm
Ameobi: On the scoresheet
Struggling Sheffield Wednesday snatched a point against high-flying Newcastle at Hillsborough after a 2-2 draw.
The Owls went ahead through Luke Varney in the 14th minute, but eight minutes later the home crowd were stunned as goals from Kevin Nolan and Shola Ameobi put Newcastle in front.
But Wednesday never gave up and were rewarded for their efforts when James O'Connor headed home with half an hour to go.
The Owls have now gone 10 Championship games without a victory, but they at least stopped the rot on home soil to leave Newcastle frustrated.
This was the Magpies' 10th game without defeat since losing at Scunthorpe on 20th October but the hosts worked hard for a deserved point.
Wednesday caretaker boss Sean McAuley - placed in temporary charge following the sacking of Brian Laws - made three changes from the side that lost to Swansea last time out.
That meant the Owls lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with Frank Simek, Tom Soares and Varney replacing Lewis Buxton, Sean McAllister and Leon Clarke respectively in the starting line-up.
Magpies boss Chris Hughton was forced into one change from the side which beat Middlesbrough last weekend with skipper Nicky Butt replacing Alan Smith.
Wednesday sought to put their recent troubles behind them inside the opening minute when former Liverpool midfielder Darren Potter smashed a fierce shot goalwards from 20 yards out.
Butt made a typically brave block to avert the danger but the Owls continued to probe and fashioned a decent opening a minute later.
Highly-rated full-back Tommy Spurr flighted a dangerous cross into the heart of the visitors' penalty box but Jose Enrique cleared the ball for a corner which Wednesday could not make pay.
It came as no surprise when Varney opened the scoring for Wednesday in the 14th minute with a fine header from O'Connor's right-wing cross.
Yet Newcastle showed their pedigree by hitting back with two goals in four minutes to forge ahead by the midway point in the first half.
In the 19th minute, Danny Guthrie spotted Nolan making tracks inside the home penalty box and he flighted in a cross from the right which the former Bolton captain dispatched with a firm header for his 11th goal of the season.
The goal lifted Newcastle and they struck again three minutes later when Jonas Gutierrez played an intelligent pass into Ameobi from the left flank and the homegrown striker rifled home a clinical right-foot shot from 18 yards.
Butt then warmed Owls goalkeeper Lee Grant's hands with a long-range strike as Newcastle sought to claim a killer third before half-time.
The closest Wednesday came to a first-half equaliser was Jermaine Johnson's shot which flashed in the 42nd minute.
Three minutes after the restart, Wednesday sought an equaliser when Steven Taylor was forced into a fine block to deny Varney from close range.
Johnson then fired wide for the Owls but their pressure told shortly before the hour mark when Varney headed a high ball into O'Connor's path and he rifled home a clinical right-foot drive from six yards.
Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper was left appealing in vain for a foul in the build-up.
Harper then did superbly well to parry Marcus Tudgay's header and Grant did likewise to deny Ameobi.
Both sides continued to push hard for a winning goal but it never came as the points were shared.
Sky Bet Championship
Sat 26th Dec
Watford0 - 0N Forest
Sheff Wed2 - 2Newcastle
C Palace3 - 1Ipswich
Cardiff0 - 1Plymouth
QPR2 - 1Bristol C
Reading1 - 1Swansea
West Brom2 - 0Peterboro
Derby0 - 2Blackpool
Coventry1 - 0Doncaster
Middlesbro'3 - 0Scunthorpe
Leicester2 - 1Sheff Utd
Sky Bet Championship
|4||Queens Park Rangers||35||63|
|8||Brighton and Hove Albion||35||56|