MAY’S DAY ENDS OWLS HOODOO
STEVIE May’s late goal gave Sheffield Wednesday a longawaited Championship victory at Hillsborough, much to the relief of Owls boss Stuart Gray.
It looked like the game would finish in a stalemate, but May’s deflected free-kick broke the deadlock and gave Wednesday a first home league win since March.
Gray’s side had survived a couple of scares. Keiren Westwood saved Glenn Murray’s first-half penalty before Murray, who the Owls tried to sign on loan earlier this year, then saw a header strike the crossbar.
Westwood also had to be at his best to deny Jake Cooper from point-blank range.
Gray admitted Wednesday had perhaps rode their luck at times, but he was happy to finally get a monkey off his back.
“It’s nice to put that one to bed because people keep saying that we haven’t won here since March 26 in the league, so they’ll have to think of another question now next week,” said Gray.
“We were on the back foot at times but I felt that the penalty save was probably the defining moment in the game. It gave us a lift and it gave the fans a lift. We seemed to then pick up a bit of momentum.
“Credit to Reading because they closed us down and pressed us. They forced errors, but the players responded.
“We started the second half very well and probably deserved the win in the end.
“We could probably have had two more penalties. The referee perhaps needed a little bit of help from his linesmen on those decisions.
“Stevie May’s free-kick took a deflection and the ball ended up in the bottom corner of the net, but we earned that break, I thought.
“They say these things even themselves out over the course of a season, and we went to Bolton last week, had 25 goal attempts and didn’t get a break.”
Reading boss Nigel Adkins was not too downbeat despite defeat in South Yorkshire.
The loss ended a run of four straight wins in all competitions for the Royals, who Adkins believes are making good progress.
“I thought we did well in the first half and kept the crowd quiet,” said Adkins.
“We had some good spells in the game and created some good chances but Westwood has made some good saves. Unfortunately, he saved the penalty with his feet.
“All in all, it was a good Championship fixture, although it’s fair to say the referee had an interesting afternoon. Was it a penalty when Alex Pearce knocked the ball back and the ball struck the defender’s arm?
“But listen, I’m really excited about the future. The stability is now here because for a good 18 months I would suggest it hasn’t been there. There are very exciting times ahead. Instead of having to sell players we might be able to bring some in.”
Adkins revealed he was forced to change his plans before kick-off at Hillsborough, with Michael Hector and Adam Federici falling victims to injury.
He said: “We had to make two enforced changes this morning. Jake Cooper came in to make his starting debut at centre-half because Michael Hector picked up a head injury the other day so we had to follow the Football Association’s protocol, which dictates that the player doesn’t play in the next match.
“Jake has come through the academy and I thought he was top drawer.
“Mikkel Andersen made his debut in goal because ‘Feds’ (Federici) was just feeling his calf a little. He had one shot on target to deal with and unfortunately it was deflected past him for the winner. There wasn’t anything he could do about that.”
IN THE BAG: Sheffield Wednesday players celebrate after Stevie May scores
SCORCHER: Stevie May scores from distance