This game proved to be a lacklustre spectacle as both teams failed to break down each others defences. The game ended a 0-0 bore draw with Sheffield Wednesday remaining in the relegation zone while Stoke moved up one place to eighth.
This was the third game in a week for The Owls, but Tony Pulis only made three changes going into his first home game in charge. Wildsmith came into goal for the injured Westwood, the young and versatile Liam Shaw made another start and Kadeem Harris returned from suspension after a straight red card three games ago.
With Rhodes dropping to the bench, Callum Paterson was tasked with leading the line in Pulis’ chosen 4-5-1 formation. In midweek Pulis spoke about the quality of Wednesday’s captain Barry Bannan. Seeking to push him further up the pitch and help him get more goals and assists, Liam Shaw has been given the perfect opportunity play in midfield. Today could be the day that The Owls finally get their first victory under Pulis after one loss and one draw so far under the experienced manager.
For Wednesday fans, the stats won’t be good reading. With a desperate need for goals, the fact that The Owls haven’t scored more than one goal in their last 19 home games and have only scored ten goals in those 19 games will certainly be a worry.
For Michael O’Neill’s Stoke City side, they will be looking to record their fourth away win of the season today and close the two point gap between themselves and the playoff positions. The manager made four changes to the side that lost 3-2 to Norwich in midweek. With injuries to Adam Davies and Angus Gunn, the England U21 keeper Josef Bursik, who was recalled from a loan at Doncaster Rovers last week, continued in goal for the Potters. With Harry Souttar self-isolating, James Chester came into defence alongside Nathan Collins who replaced Tommy Smith. Josh Tymon also dropped out for James McClean.
In the Stoke side there are a few familiar faces for the Wednesday team. Danny Batth, who won promotion to the Championship with the Owls in 2012 starts in defence alongside Morgan Fox who switched allegiances in the summer. Luckily for Wednesday, top scorer for Wednesday last season, Steven Fletcher is out injured and doesn’t make the match day squad.
On today’s Tony Pulis Hat Watch, he has reverted back to a black Sheffield Wednesday cap for today’s game.
From the off Wednesday looked solid and you can certainly understand why Pulis has placed so much importance on making sure his teams’ defence is secure before doing anything else. With 75% possession for Stoke in the first 15 minutes, you would have expected some chances but Wednesday kept it very tight and secure at the back.
Looking to make amends for the red card he picked up against Bournemouth, Harris looked a real handful from the start. This translated into an early chance where he picked up the ball and cut inside from the right flank and drilled a shot with his left foot, which clipped the outside of the post and went just wide.
Approaching the half hour mark, Lee Gregory and Julian Börner clashed heads and left the Stoke striker needing medical treatment and ultimately forced him off the pitch. Sam Vokes came on earlier than expected and certainly would have been looking forward to an early battle with the Wednesday defence.
The entire half was filled with constant possession for Stoke and the occasional opportunity for Wednesday to win the ball back. However, when The Owls did win the ball back they cleared the ball forward towards Paterson with no real penetration.
Around mid-way through the half, the ball was cleared from a Wednesday corner towards Harris on the edge of the box who unleashed a powerful drive towards the net. If it wasn’t for the experienced Jon Obi Mikel, who stood behind his keeper, it would have been a first goal for The Owls. Sticking out a leg, he managed to block the shot on the line and clear.
In the 42nd minute, Liam Shaw took one for the team by dragging down an onrushing Clucas who had space to drive towards the Wednesday defence. Given the chance, McClean struck the freekick high and wide.
The half time whistle seemed like a saving grace for those watching on. This lacklustre, drab first half had finally ended.
Half time Sheffield Wednesday 0 – 0 Stoke City
At the break, there were changes made by Tony Pulis with Liam Shaw being sacrificed for Jordan Rhodes, as Wednesday moved to two up top.
Going into the final ten minutes, Pulis made his final changes of the day with Kadeem Harris coming off for Moses Odubajo and Izzy Brown replacing Rhodes who came on at half time. For the Wednesday striker that will certainly be disappointing, but as Pulis explained after the game, he made the decision based on what the team needed. Unfortunately for Rhodes, there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’.
As the game went on, it looked more and more like this one would finish 0-0, which was very surprising as Stoke’s last four games have seen 20 goals. However, Wildsmith was called into action again towards the end of the second half with saves from Tyrese Campbell and Sam Vokes late on to secure the draw for Wednesday.
Overall, you could see why Pulis is desperate to rekindle Wednesday’s attacking power, as they recorded no shots on target throughout the entire game. The only saving grace for the Owls was their defensive strength with Julian Börner once again putting in a quality performance at the back and Wildsmith making important saves when called upon.
With Stoke probably edging the game in terms of performance, this truly was a very difficult watch. Chances were very rare and both teams will class this as two points dropped. Stoke finish the day in eighth but missed the chance to move into the play-offs, whereas Wednesday remain in twenty-third, four points from safety.
Full time Sheffield Wednesday 0 – 0 Stoke City
Man of the Match: Joe Wildsmith – kept his team in the game and made important saves to gain Wednesday one more point towards safety.