Today’s all-Yorkshire clash at Hillsborough didn’t have the fierce nature typical of a Yorkshire derby, but the final four minutes provided plenty of talking points after Ishmael Miller rescued a point for the Terriers.
The striker emerged from the bench to score his third goal – and first away from home – late in the game to cancel out Sergiu Bus’ opener, which looked like it would give Wednesday all three points in an otherwise uneventful contest.
David Edgar had a first half shot cleared off the line and James Vaughan could have won the tie right at the death, but otherwise it was down to Mark Hudson to lead the Town defence as Wednesday enjoyed more of the platy throughout.
Powell made two changes to his team going into the game, with James Vaughan returning from suspension and Manchester United loanee Reece James being handed his Town debut.
James operated as a left wing back, but played most of the game deeper in his own half than his right-sided teammate Sean Scannell, who was a willing runner and outlet for his teammates.
Wednesday enjoyed more of the territorial play than the Terriers during the opening 45 minutes, but neither side played expansive passing football on Wednesday’s tricky, sandy pitch. Stuart Gray’s side had giant 6’6” striker Atdhe Nuhiu as an outlet, whereas Powell’s men used the channels as a frequent path forward.
The Owls had the first real chance of the game in the 18th minute when Nuhiu flicked the ball over Joel Lynch’s head for his strike partner Caolan Lavery to chase into the box, but the Northern Irishman volleyed well over when well positioned inside the area.
A few minutes later talented, creative midfielder Lewis McGugan had a pop from just outside the area – but a defender did enough to knock him off balance as he pulled the trigger and ensure the ball flew wide of target.
Despite Wednesday’s territory, Town arguably had the best two chances of the half. The first came on the stroke of the half hour when Tommy Smith sent a long free-kick into the area; Jacob Butterfield picked up the loose ball and found Lynch in space, but his shot on the spin was saved low to his right by Wednesday ‘keeper Keiren Westwood.
The second chance also came from a set-piece. Debutant James sent an in-swinging corner into the box and the initial header dropped to David Edgar, who sent a slightly miscued shot goalwards – only for the Wednesday defender at the back post to hack the ball off the line.
Much like the first-half, Wednesday started the second in the ascendancy by pressing the Terriers back – and it took an amazing goal-line clearance from Lynch to keep Nuhiu at bay. The striker latched onto a through pass and broke clear of the defence before rounding Smithies, but as he rolled the ball goalwards the defender got back and hooked the ball clear at the very last second.
Town defended stoutly as Wednesday threw the ball forwards, with Smithies having little in the main. At one end Lavery had a tame penalty shout dismissed, with Town sub Ishmael Miller having similar luck with a claim at the other after replacing Nahki Wells.
Then the game finally came to life with four minutes left, when the Owls broke the deadlock.
A Wednesday player got half a yard clear of James on Town’s left and delivered a low 86th minute cross across the face of goal. The ball fell to the back post for substitute Sergiu Bus and although Smithies saved his initial deflected effort with his legs, the striker picked up the rebound and squeezed it between Hudson and the post to give his side the lead.
Then Town hit back through Miller, who had proven a real handful for the Owls defenders since his introduction. Strike partner Vaughan deserved credit for the way he beat the imposing Zayatte to Smith’s ball into the box and when the knock-down fell to Ish, he made no mistake in beating Westwood from close range!
Town could have won it in the four minutes of added time, but Vaughan couldn’t divert his stooping effort from James’ cross wide of Westwood.
Town’s team (3-5-2):
Alex Smithies; Joel Lynch, Mark Hudson (c), Tommy Smith; Reece James, Jacob Butterfield, David Edgar, Conor Coady, Sean Scannell; James Vaughan, Nahki Wells (Ishmael Miller, 64)
Lloyd Allinson, Murray Wallace, Joe Lolley, Jake Carroll, Oscar Gobern, Radoslaw Majewski
Conor Coady (45); Joel Lynch (67); Mark Hudson (81)