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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sheffield Wednesday and QPR Draw 1-1

Wednesday were left frustrated after being held by Queens Park Rangers despite dominating the Hillsborough contest and creating enough chances to win two matches.
The Owls dominated the play but were left lamenting their inability to make their superiority count, as R's keeper Paul Jones and the woodwork kept them at bay.
Deon Burton gave Wednesday an early advantage but Marc Bircham popped up to earn the Londoners a point just before half-time.
Scott Carson - one of two Owls loanees making their debut along with Mikkel Bischoff - was called into action in the opening minutes as he smartly clutched Gareth Ainsworth's long-range drive, while Paul Jones made a superb stop to repel Burton in the sixth minute. Burton O'Brien swung over a pinpoint cross from the left which Burton met sweetly only for the Wales goalkeeper to paw his header around the post.
However Wednesdayites didn't have long to wait to see the former Derby man open his SWFC account, as he struck in the 13th minute to give the Owls first blood. Chris Brunt took a quick throw-in to Glenn Whelan, whose first time flicked pass spun behind the Rangers backline for Burton to race in between defenders and goalkeeper to prod home.
Lee Bullen saw a header saved from O'Brien's centre and Yoann Folly was well off target from long distances, as tempers began to rise on and off the field with the officials coming up with some questionable decisions. One such incident led to QPR's equaliser two minutes from the break, as Bircham headed home a Lee Cook free-kick at the near post after a dubious foul was awarded close to the Owls' left-hand corner flag.
How Wednesday failed to get themselves back in front in the first four minutes of the second half will remain an eternal mystery. Firstly they were kept out by a fine double save from Jones, who palmed away Marcus Tudgay's toe-ender before rising to block Burton's blast.
Then the veteran stopper twice thwarted Tudgay in an amazing goalmouth scramble in which the ball seemed to be kept from crossing the line by an invisible force. Tudgay saw a brace of efforts saved before Folly hit the bar from close range.
Tudgay could only head tamely at Jones after smart work and an accurate centre from Bullen and then saw his header creep agonisingly across goal after Burton pulled back Brunt's pass. O'Brien's drive was blocked by Marcus Bignot and Tudgay was off target from the former Livingston man's cross soon after as Wednesday continued to press forward.
Carson had been a spectator for much of the half but was alert when called upon to behind Cook's inswinging free-kick. The Owls continued to try everything with Steven MacLean and Leon Best both coming into the fray, however the desired winner failed to materialise.


QPR Official Site Report on Sheff Wed 1 QPR 1
Rangers rode their luck to grind out a draw in a gritty encounter at Hillsborough.
Marc Bircham's fearsome header on the stroke of half time proved priceless, as Gary Waddock's side weathered a second half storm to leave the Steel City with a plucky point.
The Hoops midfielder - who was recalled to the starting line up after missing the home clash with Wolves due to illness seven days earlier - stooped to head home Lee Cook's 43rd minute free kick.
Earlier, the Owls were ahead on 12 minutes, courtesy of Deon Burton's close range strike.
The Jamaican international notched from inside the six yard box, after Glenn Whelan's sublime through ball from midfield cut open the entire Hoops defence.
Hoops custodian Paul Jones was the hero of the hour during the second period, producing five top-drawer saves to keep the hosts at bay.
Rangers threatened sporadically, with Cook calling Scott Carson into a neat save at his far post, but it was the home side who were left licking their wounds at full time, as the realisation of their relegation dog-fight started to hit home.
Rangers Caretaker Manager Gary Waddock recalled midfield pair Steve Lomas and Bircham, with Richard Langley and Stefan Bailey the unlucky duo to miss out.
Wednesday included recent loan signings Carson and Mikkel Bischoff, who joined from Liverpool and Manchester City respectively on Friday.
Rangers were on the front foot almost immediately, with Cook's out-swinging cross narrowly evading the on-rushing Paul Furlong.
On two minutes, Gareth Ainsworth's right foot curler from fully 25 yards forced Carson into a splendid stop, just when the ball seemed destined to nestle into the roof of the net.
Play quickly switched to the other end, where Burton evaded his marker, only to see his powerful header superbly tipped round by Paul Jones.
The Owls were winning the midfield battler early on and when Yoann Folly played a clever one-two with Marcus Tudgay, Matthew Rose was called into a terrific last ditch cover tackle to thwart the Southampton loanee from getting his shot away.
Dan Shittu required treatment for a facial injury, before the Owls took the lead on 12 minutes.
Whelan's deft through ball from the middle of the park was weighted to perfection and Burton nipped in to apply the finishing touch past the exposed Jones from the edge of the six yard box.
Cook was beginning to have an impact as the half wore on, getting free of his marker on more than one occasion, only for his final ball to go missing all too often.
Chris Brunt, who Waddock had earmarked as a danger-man before the trip North, broke free on 21 minutes, but Shittu was in the right place at the right time to divert the ball for a corner.
New signing Bischoff marked his Owls debut with a booking for a lunge on Furlong on 23 minutes, much to the dismay of the home crowd, who thought their man took the ball.
Mauro Milanese was getting forward to good effect, with his searching left sided cross narrowly evading Furlong at the front post in the 27th minute.
Ainsworth's speculative 30 yard volley was easily held by Carson on the half hour, but it was Wednesday who continued to force the initiative, with Brunt and Burton at the heart of their positive display.
Rangers drew level on the stroke of half time when Cook's superb in-swinging free kick was met by Bircham's powerful glancing at the near post. Carson stood no chance, as the ball nestled in the top corner of the net to the delight of the travelling Hoops faithful.
Jones was Rangers' saviour a minute into the second half, firstly tipping away Tudgay's point blank strike, before flinging himself to his left to deny Burton from the edge of the penalty box.
Seconds later, the Welsh stopper was at it again, twice denying Tudgay with what can only be described as world class saves, before Folly's follow up cannoned off the crossbar to safety.
The Owls continued to enjoy the lion's share of possession and when Lee Bullen out-foxed Cook on the right flank, Burton arrived bang on cue only to head straight at Jones.
There was simply no respite for the visitors, as the Owls - backed by a fanatical home crowd - continually forced the Superhoops to defend in numbers.
Burton headed wide from ten yards after fine wide play from O'Brien, before Cook's bending set piece was tipped to safety by Carson with the match approaching the 70 minute mark.
Rose judged his tackle on Burton to perfection just as the former Pompey striker seemed poised to test Jones yet again, while at the other end, substitute Langley ballooned his left footed shot well wide of the post.
As the home side became increasingly frustrated, it was referee Andy D'Urso who bore the brunt of their annoyance.
Both sides went in search of a winner, but despite five minutes of added time, it ended all square.
Sheffield Wednesday: Carson, Bullen, Folly, Coughlan, Whelan, O'Brien, Brunt (Best 83), Burton, Bischoff (Simek 83), Gilbert, Tudgay (MacLean 76).
Subs: Adamson, Hills.
Goals: Burton 12
Bookings: Bischoff 23
QPR: Jones, Bignot, Shittu, Rose, Milanaese, Ainsworth, Bircham, Lomas, Cook (Langley 69), Gallen, Furlong (Baidoo 86).
Subs: Royce, Evatt, Bailey.
Goals: Bircham 42
Referee: A D'Urso
Attendance: 22, 788


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