Owls swoop towards play-offs
Penalty miss proves costly for R's as Wednesday go 10th
By Elliot Ball. Last Updated: 09/12/08 10:51pm
Clarke: Netted winner
QPR's away blues continued as Leon Clarke's second-half winner propelled Sheffield Wednesday to within touching distance of the Championship play-offs on Tuesday.
The Owls extend their unbeaten run to four games, albeit it was a fortunate fourth in a game that the away side dominated for the most part, but failed to convert several glorious chances.
Skipper Martin Rowlands was guilty of squandering Rangers' best opportunity of a first away goal in more than 700 minutes of football as his first-half penalty was saved by Lee Grant.
And the visitors paid the price for the miss when Clarke reacted first to Radek Cerny's parry from Marcus Tudgay's shot to chip the ball into the empty net.
Owls boss Brian Laws made one change to the side which drew 1-1 at Southampton on Saturday, with the fit-again Tommy Spurr coming in for Lewis Buxton.
The visitors also made one change with Dexter Blackstock replaced by Mikele Leigertwood after the striker injured his back during the 1-0 win over Wolves.
The visitors had the first chance of the match in the fifth minute when, after a good break from midfield from Rowlands, the ball fell to Hogan Ephraim on the edge of the area and his shot was saved by Grant.
And the former Derby goalkeeper was again in the thick of the action moments later, miscuing a kick to Patrick Agyemang, who rounded Mark Beevers and squared for Heidar Helguson.
Helguson looked certain to score but the on-loan Bolton striker was denied by a brilliant save from Grant, who was clearly relieved to atone for his error.
The Owls struggled to create anything of note during the opening period with strike pairing Francis Jeffers and Clarke mere spectators up front.
Grant came to his side's rescue in the 26th minute when his outstretched legs saved Rowlands' penalty after Sean McAllister was adjudged to have hauled down Helguson at the far post.
The visitors began stronger after the break and Helguson stung the hands of Grant from the corner of the penalty area with a fizzing shot.
Richard Wood then came to Wednesday's rescue on the hour mark when a looping ball over the top released Agyemang in on goal only for the tall defender to come across in time to usher the ball out of play.
His central defensive partner Beevers almost created an opportunity at the other end when he flashed a cross across the six-yard box, but no-one was there to knock the ball into the empty net.
With the clock running down it was the hosts who seemed more determined to break the deadlock and they did just that in the 75th minute. Clarke netted from close range after Tudgay had seen his shot parried by Cerny.
Sky Bet Championship
Tue 9th Dec
Wolves3 - 0Derby
Swansea2 - 2Barnsley
N Forest0 - 1Sheff Utd
Sheff Wed1 - 0QPR
Preston1 - 0Doncaster
Burnley2 - 2Cardiff
Plymouth0 - 1Birmingham
Charlton1 - 2Coventry
Reading1 - 0Blackpool
Sky Bet Championship
|17||Brighton and Hove Albion||9||9|