Pressure on Jos Luhukay’s job increases further after a 2-2 draw with Rotherham United on Saturday. The Owls took the lead just before half-time against the run of play, before seeing the visitors equalise 13 seconds into the second-half. After a brief spell behind, a headed effort from Joao just after the hour mark saw the game finish honours even.
Luhukay made three changes to his side after their 4-2 defeat to Blackburn last Saturday. Fox, Nuhiu and Baker all came into the starting XI.
Rotherham started the game the better side as Vaulks sent a dangerous ball into the Wednesday penalty box, but Ajaya was unable to get his foot on the end of it.
Jon Taylor got the first effort on target after 15 minutes, but it was an easy stop for keeper Cameron Dawson.
Play was stopped just before the 20-minute mark after a clash of heads between Rotherham captain Richard Wood and Joey Pelupessy.
Adam Reach had Wednesday’s best chance of the half after a fantastic lobbed pass from Barry Bannan, but his finish was well wide of the far post.
The Rotherham defence had a heart in mouth moment on the 35-minute mark. A Pelupessy free-kick was headed just over their own net by Mattock.
Michael Smith proved to be a constant threat for the Cobblers, seeing two headed efforts just before half-time. Ryan Williams found Richie Towell inside the 12-yard-box a few minutes later, but Towell was unable to find a man in yellow.
Against the run of play, Wednesday took the lead. Nuhiu found Joao will a long ball over the top. Joao kept his cool to slot below the keeper’s left into the bottom corner.
It could not have been a more different second-half. Rotherham kept their heads up and levelled the scores 13 seconds after the break. Michael Smith found himself clean through on goal and calmly finessed the ball home.
Nuhiu stung the hands of Rodak with a low volley on 47 minutes. The Owls had clearly worked on set-pieces on the training ground, as an audacious run by Tom Lees from a corner almost paid off.
The travelling Rotherham faithful were sent into delirium as a speculative effort by Richie Towell from 25-yards out slipped through Dawson’s hands to put the visitors ahead.
The Wednesday home support turned on their own manager near the hour mark, singing for Luhukay to lose his job.
These chants clearly inspired the home side, as a cross from substitute Pudil was met by the head of Joao out of the reach of Rodak to make it 2-2 on 64 minutes.
After having a poor start to the game, Joao looked like a man inspired, having several good chances to make it 3-2.
The Cobbles had a golden opportunity to take the lead themselves. A one two between Smith and Vaulks saw the latter blaze wide from 12 yards with 15 minutes to go. Towell missed another good chance on 85 minutes, much to the disappointed of the travelling fans.
Nuhiu had the chance to give Wednesday all three points, but his sliding effort flew over the Cobblers crossbar.
The full-time whistle blew to thunderous boos from the home side. It was probably a fair result on the balance of play, but not the one the Owls were looking for.
Jos Luhukay said: “The first goal was an important moment and we should have had more confidence to start the second-half. They scored early, and we did well to come back 2-2.
“This period is not easy for us. There is more pressure on my team than Rotherham. Rotherham are a strong team who are fighting, and they were very good at set-pieces. I take a positive that we found a way back into the game, I think we deserved the result.
“It is easy for me to name the players that made mistakes, but we can only work on it together.
“I think Joao had a great game, he had three chances and scored two goals – he is a player that can make a difference in a match. He is finding his way to become a dangerous striker.
“We need to go further in our work as a team. Next week we have a new chance to get three points.
Paul Warne was in much brighter spirits: “I’m obviously biased, but I thought we were the better and more aggressive team. We tried to go at them and our second-half performance saw us create more chances to win the game.
“Because of the wind in the second-half, I thought we might get in behind them. We don’t take enough chances to make it comfortable. We need to turn these draws into wins.”
Wednesday continue their campaign away to Swansea next weekend.
Sheffield Wednesday: Dawson, Fox, Pelupessy (Matias 77’), Bannan, Thorniley (Pudil 59’), Lees (c), Nuhiu, Joao, Reach, Baker, Hector
Rotherham United: Rodak, Vyner, Mattock, Vaulks, Ajaya, Wood (c), Forde (Wiles 74’), Taylor, Towell, Williams, Smith
Referee: Darren Bond
HT Score: 1-0
FT Score: 2-2
Man of the Match: Lucas Joao