Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Nottingham Forest (EFL Championship) 20.06.20
Sheffield Wednesday denied Nottingham Forest a winning return to Championship action as a late injury-time Connor Wickham goal earned the home side a share of the spoils at Hillsborough.
It was 105 days of waiting for the Reds to return to action and in very much different ‘new normal’ surroundings in the Steel City, a big old empty blue stadium but for officials, staff and a small media section greeted the two sets of teams, Forest without their own steel in midfield as neither Watson or Sow were fit enough to play, Yates and Johnson given the job to supply Sabri Lamouchi’s youthful red engine room.
After both clubs took a knee to start the game Forest went closest first when Brennan Johnson (in his first league start) headed wide from Tiago Silva’s free kick on ten minutes. Five minutes later it was the hosts turn to attack themselves when Massimo Luongo’s shot deflected wide after Matty Cash was caught in possession.
Lolley saw his shot blocked on twenty minutes before Kieren Lee blazed over at the other end and on 28 minutes Samba saved from Rhodes after he was put through by Bannan. A great save too by the Frenchman who raced out to block the Scottish International striker who in his last outing scored a hat-trick verses Forest. Nine minutes later Wickham had two bites to put Wednesday in the lead as his first header was blocked by Figueiredo before the big centre forward hit the rebound into the side netting.
As the two teams approached half time a last opportunity to open the score went begging as Lolley drifted a free kick over the bar on 44 and as the Referee Mr Jones blew for half time it was all a bit underwhelming following a half shaded by blue, but not entirely entertaining those little numbers evenly spread in attendance.
After the break Forest opened up the second half really well and the dangerous looking Lolley raced down the wing on 54 to centre for Johnson who couldn’t get to the ball ahead of the busy Bannan who cleared. Four minutes later the home side created their best opportunity of the game when a Rhodes header hit the post and Lee’s follow up was cleared spectacularly off the line by Worrall. That should have been one-nil.
It was a much more open start to the second half in comparison to the first 45 and when Johnson got to the byline and whipped across the face of the goal everyone thought Lewis Grabban was there to tap home but the ball just evaded the predatory striker by little more than inches. It seemed to matter not however, on 70 minutes the visitors took a deserved lead when Lolley raced on to a Matty Cash ball to bring down with ease before coolly finishing past the Wednesday goalkeeper. A goal that could only be scored by someone with Lolley’s ability.
Lolley went close again with ten minutes remaining as Wildsmith in the Wednesday goal pushed his long range effort behind and as the game filtered out to a flurry of little Wednesday attempts it looked like Forest would do enough to come back down the M1 with all three points and a clean sheet.
A late corner however deep into added time was headed home by Connor Wickham as his marker Toby Figueiredo failed to pressurise the Wednesday striker and it was spoils shared disappointingly having been so close to taking a first win on the road since beating Cardiff in February.
A point gained however for the Reds and Sabri Lamouchi on reflection was not a bad one. Attention now draws to next weekend and struggling Huddersfield Town when all three will be very much on the agenda to take in order to keep those pushing behind them away.
Sheffield Wednesday: Wildsmith, Palmer, Iorfa, Borner, Murphy (Odubajo 68), Lee (Reach 74), Bannan, Luongo (Hunt 83), Harris, Rhodes (Fletcher 68 (Da Cruz 74)), Wickham.
Forest: Samba, Cash, Figueiredo, Worrall, Ribeiro, Yates, Johnson (Semedo 62), Silva (Bostock 85), Lolley, Ameobi (da Costa 62), Grabban (Diakhaby 90).
*Main image @SWFC Joe Lolley in goalscoring action on his return.