May goal can­celled out late by Smith

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Ricky Charlesworth

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.

PIC­TURES: Me­dia Im­age

LEV­ELLER: Ful­ham for­ward Matt Smith equalises at Hills­bor­ough MAY DAY: Sh­effield Wed­nes­day for­ward Ste­vie May is con­grat­u­lated by team-mates

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