OWLS CHEER 50 POINTS OF GRAY
May goal cancelled out late by Smith
STUART Gray admitted the only positive he could take from Sheffield Wednesday’s drab stalemate with Fulham is that they have finally reached the 50-point mark.
Wednesday took the lead through Stevie May but were pegged back by Matt Smith.
They also saw Liam Palmer and Will Keane go off in the first half with nasty-looking injuries while the result quashed the Owls’ hopes of equalling a club-record 19 clean sheets.
And boss Gray insisted the terrible Hillsborough pitch did not make for a great spectacle.
“It was a poor game and it wasn’t one for the purists,” said Gray. “The only positive that came out of it is that we’ve reached the 50-point mark.
“The pitch has probably caused us two injuries, with Liam Palmer and Will Keane.
“The disappointing thing is that the players deserve a better surface and hopefully we’ll get that next season.
“The game wasn’t conducive to football. We forced a mistake out of them.
“We got the opener but we couldn’t build on that and suddenly it became an open game.
“The pitch didn’t allow for any real quality in the game.
“We had two or three of the better chances but it wasn’t to be.
“I think the referee shouted play on for their goal. I’m disappointed the referee didn’t blow for a foul for simulation or give us a free-kick, but you have to play until the whistle goes.”
As for the Cottagers, this result leaves Fulham six points from safety.
And manager Kit Symons was pleased with the performance from his side, especially their equaliser.
“I thought it was a good break from us and good build-up play,” said Symons.
“They were appealing for offside against Matt Smith but I spoke to some Wednesday guys and they were quite happy that he was onside.
“I was just pleased we got the goal in the end.
“We were a goal down away from home and we had to get something out of it. I had to make positive substitutions and they paid off on the day; it doesn’t always work like that but luckily here it paid off for us.
“We knew about the state of the pitch coming into the game.
“But it was the same for both sides. It is what is and you just have to get on with it.”
In truth this was an eyesore of a fixture, with the boggy pitch creating problems for both sides.
The only shot on target of a hugely forgettable first half came when Chris Maguire fizzed an effort that drew a straightforward save from Marcus Bettinelli.
Other than that, play was extremely scrappy with the loudest cheer of the first half coming when the referee Andy Woolmer collided with a Wednesday player and fell over – which shows just how poor the contest was.
May, who came on as a substitute for the injured Keane late in the first half, botched a good chance to open the scoring when he drove an effort into the ground.
However, May atoned for the error ten minutes into the second half when he gave the Owls the lead.
Lewis McGugan whipped in a cross from the right and May peeled away from his marker to glance a header past Bettinelli.
Wednesday looked pretty comfortable for their lead but Fulham hit back with 15 minutes to go, albeit against the run of play.
Wednesday players appeared to stop in their tracks inside the box but former Leeds United striker Smith was alert as he bundled the ball past Keiren Westwood to earn a point for Symons’ men with quarter of an hour remaining.
LEVELLER: Fulham forward Matt Smith equalises at Hillsborough MAY DAY: Sheffield Wednesday forward Stevie May is congratulated by team-mates