Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Middlesbrough: Lenihan equaliser leaves both sides still winless

A huge match between two early strugglers took centre stage in the Championship on Tuesday night as Sheffield Wednesday hosted Middlesbrough. Xisco Munoz’s side sit 23rd, having lost to fellow promoted side Ipswich Town last time out, while Michael Carrick’s men are rock bottom and – like their opposite number – arrived at Hillsborough in desperate need of a win. 

WED: Vasquez; Valentin, Bernard, Diaby, Famewo, Delgado; Bannan, Buckley, Hendrick, Windass; Fletcher

MID: Dieng; van de Berg, Fry, Lenihan, Engel; McGree, Silvera; O’Brien, Crooks, Hackney; Coburn

On what was a rather chilly night at Hillsborough, it was a fairly even start to the game with both sides just finding their feet in what felt like a huge game this early into the Championship season. The first clear-cut chance of the game fell the way of the home side, however, as Ashley Fletcher’s ball zipped across the face of goal towards Josh Windass, whose shot was tame and therefore didn’t threaten Boro keeper Seny Dieng. 

Another opportunity then fell Wednesday’s way just moments later as Barry Bannan’s free kick evaded everyone, only for John Buckley’s ball back in to fly just wide of Fletcher at the far post. 

The match was paused briefly following an organised protest against Sheffield Wednesday owner Dejphon Chansiri, with tennis balls being thrown on the pitch by disgruntled home supporters, but this was resolved quickly and the game continued. 

Before the protest in the 15th minute, Xisco Munoz’s side were starting to dominate the game, but as the clock ticked past the 27th  minute, the visitors were the ones who almost found the unlikely opener. Josh Coburn’s burst of pace down the left hand side beat Valentin and the striker sent the ball in towards Samuel Silvera, but the Australian couldn’t get his feet adjusted in time to direct it home.

With just under eight minutes to go until the first half’s end, Wednesday took a deserved lead. Pol Valentin’s cross in from the right hand side found Di-Shon Bernard. The Jamaican then laid the ball off to Anthony Musaba, who came on for an injured Josh Windass just minutes earlier, who finished calmly at the near post. 

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The Owls could have extended their lead in first-half stoppage time, but Ashley Fletcher’s run into the box following a peach of a cross from Pol Valentin was thwarted by Boro stopper Seny Dieng, who collected the ball just in time to avoid any further damage.

The second half kicked off with Wednesday winning a free kick around 35 yards out, which John Buckley whipped in from the left hand side. The ball was then half-cleared by the Boro defence towards Akin Famewo, who laid it off to Valentin, but the Spaniard’s shot flew well over the bar.

With eight minutes of the second 45 gone, the visitors grabbed an equaliser, and it was deserved considering Boro’s start to the second half. From a corner, the ball was curled in from the right by Riley McGree, and Darragh Lenihan simply wanted the ball more as he fired it in off the bar past Vasquez in the Wednesday goal.

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Michael Carrick’s men were well on top in this second half, and they thought they had the lead just minutes later as Matt Crooks headed in from Lenihan’s flick on, but the former Rotherham midfielder was adjudged to be offside and the celebrations were cut short. The away fans were denied the opportunity to celebrate again just moments later, as Josh Coburn’s brilliant run down the left hand side saw him cut inside and bend a rocket of a shot just wide of Vasquez’s far post. 

The rest of the second half progressed quite timidly, with the only chance of note seeing Wednesday substitute George Byers curling an effort well wide of the near post in the 90th minute. In the end, the scoreline looked a fair reflection of the game, but what it also meant was that both sides still remained winless in the Championship this season.

Sheffield Wednesday travel to another struggling side in Swansea City on Saturday, while Michael Carrick’s side take on Southampton at the Riverside – both 3pm kick-offs.