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Hillsborough (ATT 14,792) 9th December 2008 - Kick off 19:45 Ref: N Miller

Sheff Wed Sheffield Wednesday vs Queens Park Rangers QPR

ft

QPR 0

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

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Clarke: Netted winner

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.

Chance

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.

Rescue

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.

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Matches

Table

Sky Bet Championship

Sky Bet Championship
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bournemouth 23 45
2 Ipswich Town 23 44
3 Derby County 23 42
4 Middlesbrough 23 42
5 Brentford 23 40
6 Watford 23 38
7 Norwich City 23 37
8 Blackburn Rovers 23 34
9 Wolverhampton Wanderers 23 34
10 Nottingham Forest 24 31
11 Cardiff City 23 31
12 Charlton Athletic 23 31
13 Sheffield Wednesday 23 31
14 Birmingham City 24 31
15 Bolton Wanderers 23 29
16 Fulham 23 28
17 Reading 23 26
18 Rotherham United 23 25
19 Huddersfield Town 23 25
20 Leeds United 23 24
21 Millwall 23 23
22 Wigan Athletic 23 20
23 Brighton and Hove Albion 23 20
24 Blackpool 23 13

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