TOWN 0 SHEFF WED 0
Town had to settle for a share of the spoils as they were left frustrated by Sheffield Wednesday in the Yorkshire Derby.
Chances were at a premium throughout the match, with both defences tough to break down. Nahki Wells and Stevie May both had good chances to win the game for their respective sides in the second half, but a draw always looked the likely outcome.
There were two league debutants in the Town starting XI, with Diego Poyet preferred to Jonathan Hogg in midfield and Joe Murphy replacing Alex Smithies in goal. It was the first game that Smithies has missed a game since Town’s promotion to the Sky Bet Championship in 2012.
Chances were few and far between in the first half as both teams – lining up with 4-3-3 formations – cancelled one another out. Lewis McGugan, making his Sheffield Wednesday debut, shot over after a Royston Drenthe cross was only partially cleared.
It was the visitors who threatened again shortly after when Scottish international, May, worked himself half a yard in the Town penalty are before unleashing a goal bound effort, only for Joel Lynch to block magnificently.
Moments later, former Real Madrid man, Drenthe, escaped with a yellow card after a late challenge on Paul Dixon.
Town would have to wait until the half an hour mark before carving their first opening. Jacob Butterfield sliced the Wednesday defence open to release Tommy Smith whose squared ball was crucially intercepted by former Leeds United defender, Tom Lees.
The first half rather petered out as both sides were lacking quality in the final third, with the only opportunity of note coming when Sean Scannell’s low cross evaded everybody in the middle.
The second half picked up where the first half left off, with both sides struggling to create chances. The away side were looking most likely to score with May springing the offside trap on a couple of occasions, but Murphy did well to avert the danger.
Drenthe was still causing problems for Town, and went close after going on a mazy 30 yard run, before firing straight in to the arms of Murphy.
Chris Powell then looked to take the game to Wednesday as Wells and Danny Ward replaced Harry Bunn and Conor Coady. This led to Town switching to 4-4-2 with Wells, giving Holt some much needed support.
The changes seemed to breathe new life in to Town and with Wells’ first touch he brought a smart save from Keiren Westwood, before Liam Palmer cleared the danger.
May was then unlucky not to open the scoring after a weaving run took him inside the Town penalty area, only for his left-footed effort to somehow cannon back off the crossbar, and then the post.
The best chance of the afternoon then fell to Wells with five minutes remaining. The Bermudian broke free from his marker, but with the goal at his mercy he could only fire straight at the onrushing Westwood.
Both sides then exchanged a late flurry of corners which, before Wednesday broke away on the counter attack. With four-on-two, Drenthe went alone and cut inside on to his favoured left foot, but saw his curling effort superbly saved by the excellent Murphy in the Town goal.
The point sees Town move up to 14th position, and maintain their unbeaten home run, which now stretches to six games.
Town's team (4-3-3):
Joe Murphy; Paul Dixon, Joel Lynch, Mark Hudson, Tommy Smith; Jacob Butterfield, Conor Coady (Nahki Wells, 68), Diego Poyet; Harry Bunn (Danny Ward, 68), Grant Holt, Sean Scannell
Unused subs: Lloyd Allinson, Murray Wallace, Jack Robinson, Lee Peltier, Jonathan Hogg