Joao’s that? Owls swoop late

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Adam Lacey

PAUL Lam­bert ques­tioned a ‘grey area’ in the laws of the game af­ter his side con­ceded a con­tro­ver­sial late equaliser from Sh­effield Wed­nes­day su­per­sub Lu­cas Joao while cap­tain Grant Han­ley was in­jured.

Rovers went into the break 2-1 up cour­tesy of goals from Hope Akpan and Corry Evans ei­ther side of Modou Sougou’s goal for the Owls.

The half-time in­tro­duc­tion of Joao and Gary Hooper changed the game for the visi­tors and the break­through came in the 84th minute when Han­ley went down and Wed­nes­day at­tacked rather than putting the ball out.

New Rovers man­ager Lam­bert said the draw was still a good re­sult on his home de­but, de­spite the na­ture of the visi­tors’ sec­ond goal.

He said: “I think it’s a grey area, it’s down to the ref­eree’s dis­cre­tion, he doesn’t have to blow. I can understand why they have done it, and fair play.

“The ref­eree has the right to do what he wants, but in that sit­u­a­tion Sh­effield Wed­nes­day kick the ball out and we give them it back. They chose to play on, and I’m not go­ing to crit­i­cise do­ing that as it would be scrap­ing the bar­rel.

“It didn’t help as Grant Han­ley had been im­mense, and they get a bit for­tu­itous as it comes off their guy’s shin and they score.

“They’re a good side, they just beat Arse­nal not long ago. If you can’t win a game, at least don’t lose it.”

Rovers got off to the per­fect start scor­ing in the first five min­utes as Akpan rose to meet Craig Con­way’s whipped cor­ner to head home his first goal for the club.

Wed­nes­day pegged the home side back af­ter Kieran Lee showed great foot­work to round the keeper and hit the post, the ball bounced out to Sougou who couldn’t miss from that range.

The hosts were back in the lead al­most im­me­di­ately when an­other Con­way cor­ner bounced out to Evans who shot through a crowd of play­ers and the de­flec­tion left keeper Keiren West­wood help­less.

The York­shire side had only lost once in the pre­vi­ous 11 games and they showed their qual­ity in the sec­ond half.

Black­burn even­tu­ally suc­cumbed to the pres­sure when Tom Lees’ sliced vol­ley dropped to Joao to score – the Por­tuguese now has a Cham­pi­onship-high of four goals from the bench this sea­son.

Lam­bert’s men went close at the death through Jor­dan Rhodes’ header, but ul­ti­mately the Rovers boss was pleased with the per­for­mance.

“On an­other day we could’ve won it but it’s four points out of six since we’ve ar­rived and that’s a good re­sult,” Lam­bert added.

Mean­while, Owls head coach Car­los Car­val­hal be­lieved his side de­served the three points, on the strength of their sec­ond-half per­for­mance and the im­pact of Joao.

“In the sec­ond half we were the best team on the pitch so in my opin­ion we de­served to win,” he said.“They came with a new coach in his first home game. They won last time and had a new en­ergy. They were very strong in the free kick and cor­ners.

“We lost con­cen­tra­tion for the first goal. And Tom Lees was fouled be­fore the sec­ond goal, and the ref­eree didn’t see it.

“The peo­ple are very ex­cited about Joao. But he is play­ing in the en­vi­ron­ment that suits him at the mo­ment.

“If he plays many games it might be more dif­fi­cult for him. Now we cre­ate the en­vi­ron­ment where he makes a dif­fer­ence com­ing into the team with his en­ergy.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

HOPE & GLORY: Black­burn Rovers’ Hope Akpan scores their first goal but Wed­nes­day came fron be­hind twice for a draw

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