OWLS TRIBUTE IS SIX-GOAL SHOW
SHEFFIELD Wednesday boss Stuart Gray says this six-goal draw showcased all that is good about football on the day that marked the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
An equaliser by Atdhe Nuhiu in the fifth minute of injury time earned Wednesday a draw after they had been 3-1 down and dealt a blow to Rovers’ play-off aspirations.
The minute’s silence before the game was impeccably observed, the significance heightened by the fact that just yards away 96 people died on April 15, 1989.
Sheffield Wednesday had installed 96 white seats at the front of the Leppings Lane End where the disaster unfolded.
A red rose was placed on every seat, each individually inscribed with the names of those who lost their lives.
Following the minute’s silence Gray and his Rovers counterpart Gary Bowyer, who was at Hillsborough as a Nottingham Forest fan that day, placed wreaths.
Rovers went ahead through Jordan Rhodes’ 24th goal of the season after some woeful Wednesday defending before Lewis Buxton equalised on the half hour.
Craig Conway and Michael Keane gave Rovers a 3-1 half-time lead before Nuhiu struck twice to clinch a point – and even had time to narrowly miss claiming all three at the end.
“I think both clubs played their respects,” said Gray.
“At the end of the day no father, no mother, no son, no daughter should lose anybody at a football game so I think it was well and truly respected by the fans.
“It was a sad, sad occasion when you think what happened 25 years ago but I think the players played their part, the fans played their part and both clubs played their part.”
Rovers took the lead following some woeful home defending after quarter of an hour.
Miguel Llera swiped at it and an unmarked Rhodes pounced in front of goal to simply slot the ball home.
Nuhiu then shot straight at Paul Robinson who also tipped over Michail Antonio’s header.
From the resulting corner, Buxton poked home.
However, there was parity for just six minutes as Rovers re-took the lead, the home defence failing to close down Conway and the midfielder sent a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner from 25 yards.
It was too easy minutes later as Rovers got a third, Jason Lowe whipping in a ball from the right which found Keane in front of goal and he headed past Chris Kirkland.
The Owls gave themselves hope though with 18 minutes remaining when Robinson could only palm out Antonio’s low cross from the byline with Nuhiu pouncing.
Another Wednesday attack saw the ball bobbling around in the area and with Rovers unable to clear Nuhiu pounced to slam the ball high into the net.
Robinson then repelled him with seconds to go with Caolan Lavery firing over.
Rovers boss Bowyer could not hide his disappointment: “You’re never safe – we have just proved that,” he said.
“If you look at the game as a whole we had enough chances to win it and put it to bed.
“We can’t keep going away from home, scoring three goals and then going away with a point.
“At both ends of the pitch we have not done it properly.”
Of his side’s play-off chances, he added: “I am still thinking about this game really but with four games to go we have just got to try and win all four and that is all we can control.
“We can only go about doing the things we can do.”
LATE DRAMA: Atdhe Nuhiu, third left, scores the equaliser for Wednesday in injury time
DELIGHT: Atdhe Nuhiu after scoring the third Owls goal