In a closely-contested match with very few chances, Sheffield Wednesday and Bristol City had to settle for a point a piece in this EFL Championship tie at Hillsborough.
Carlos Carvalhal named an unchanged side from the team that defeated Aston Villa 2-1 before the international break, with Wednesday lining up in their familiar 4-4-2 formation. Visitors Bristol City made just one change from their win against Cardiff, with Matty Taylor starting in place of Milan Djuric.
The opening stages of the match were dominated by the visitors; however, it was Sheffield Wednesday who created the first half-chance of the game inside the first minute. Ross Wallace floated a ball over to Morgan Fox, who directed it back into the area, but striker Jordan Rhodes could only glance his header way over.
Bristol’s first chance of the game fell to centre-back Aden Flint on seven minutes, whose acrobatic effort whisked just wide of the post. Three minutes later, Callum O’Dowda unleashed a ferocious drive which flashed across Kieren Westwood’s goal, after he had weaved inside onto his left foot.
On the quarter of an hour mark, another chance fell the way of the home side. Winger Ross Wallace cut inside from the right onto his favoured left foot, but could only manage an effort that was high and wide of the Bristol goal. Just minutes later, Wallace fashioned another chance for himself, this time flicking it up onto his right foot, before flashing a powerful effort wide of the mark.
The Owls then fashioned potentially their best chance of the game. Barry Bannan’s deliciously floated-in cross found Gary Hooper at the back post who headed back across goal. Rhodes rose highest to meet it but could only guide it way over the bar. The Sheffield frontman will feel he should have done better.
The 34th minute brought Bristol City’s best chance of the half. O’Dowda’s cross found an unmarked Bobby Reid who could only manage a weak header straight at Westwood. The striker appeared to be expecting the flag to be raised, therefore rushed his effort. With the current form Reid is in, with nine goals already this season, you would expect him to do better.
With five minutes to go until half-time, a searching through-ball from O’Dowda found the run of Reid, and with Westwood coming out to meet him, the Bristol striker hooked the ball back into the six-yard box, but Wednesday’s centre-backs eventually scrambled clear.
Referee Tony Harrington’s whistle drew to a close what was a frustrating half for both Wednesday players and fans, with an organised and structured Bristol City proving difficult to break down.
The second half was as close-fought and tightly contested as the first, and the open 10 minutes was a cagey affair.
On 60 minutes, Josh Brownhill let fly from range after cutting onto his right foot, but his powerful effort flew just wide of the Wednesday goal.
A well worked Sheffield Wednesday move earnt them a corner, but Jordan Rhodes could only direct his headed effort a yard wide of the right-hand post, after rising highest in the box to meet it.
The growing frustration inside Hillsborough among the home fans was epitomised in the 70-minute mark. Hooper and substitute Lucas Joao exchanged a series of intricate passes, before the latter seemed to be in a prime shooting position, but the Portuguese wide-man tried to do too much and lost possession, causing the home fans erupted in disgust.
The Robins’ best chance of the game came just two minutes later. After some fine individual play from Brownhill, the midfielder released substitute Milan Djuric who bore down on goal, but could only produce an effort that was straight at Westwood. Bobby Reid then managed to float the ball back into the area, but another acrobatic effort from Flint drifted inches wide of the post.
With just 10 minutes to go, a pivotal decision was to be made by referee Tony Hannington. A neat one two between Adam Reach and Barry Bannan allowed the former to bear down on goal, before the Scot was seemingly bundled over inside the area. However, to the disbelief of the home players and fans, the referee waved away all claims for a penalty.
The full-time whistle marked the end of what was a frustrating hour and a half of football for Sheffield Wednesday, particularly the fans. A game of very little chances, neither side truly deserved all three points.
In his post-match interview, Wednesday’s head coach, Carlos Carvalhal said: “It was a game which was fairly balanced, and we played against a team which is doing very well in their away games.
“We have 17 games and so far, we don’t have any penalties, and are complaining about 6 or 7. Today, in my opinion, it was a penalty.
“At the end, I think the score is correct, 0-0. Let’s see if this point will be important or not come the end of the season.”
Bristol City head coach Lee Johnson, stated: “I’m pleased with the point, it is obviously a difficult place to come. Our boys were solid, clean sheet away from home, and we limited a very good side to very few opportunities.
‘We had the better chances. Milan Djuric has gone through 1v1 and you fancy him to slot it. Bobby Reid in the first half should have chest and volleyed it rather than headed it. If we’d have come away with 3 points I don’t think it would have been a smash and grab job.”
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood, Hunt, Loovens, Lees, Fox, Wallace (Joao 61’), Butterfield (Lee 69’), Bannan, Reach, Hooper (Fletcher 83’(Rhodes). Unused subs: Wildsmith, Jones, van Aken, Palmer.
Bristol City: Fielding, Smith, Baker, Flint, Magnusson, O’Dowda, Brownhill, Pack, Bryan (Paterson 73’), Taylor (Djuric 67’), Reid. Unused subs: Steele, Woodrow, Eliasson, Vyner, Leko.