Owls leave it late
Sheffield Wednesday climbed into the top half of the table with a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
Last Updated: 21/02/09 5:53pm
Sheffield Wednesday climbed into the top half of the Championship table with a late 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Hillsborough.
Sean McAllister and substitute Leon Clarke ensured that Palace boss Neil Warnock made a losing return to his home city.
Warnock could have been forgiven for expecting a torrent of abuse from the home supporters after seven and a half years in charge of bitter rivals Sheffield United.
That it never really happened was in keeping with a largely nondescript encounter which only came to life in the 80th minute when McAllister took matters into his own hands.
The 21-year-old, one of the Owls' better performers, kept his composure to chest the ball down 12 yards from goal and sweep a fierce left-foot shot into the bottom corner.
Clarke added a second in the third minute of stoppage time with a close-range tap-in.
Wednesday, keen to return to winning ways after successive defeats at the hands of neighbours Doncaster and Barnsley, struggled badly for inspiration in the opening period.
But, in the 16th minute, on-loan Wolves midfielder Darren Potter hit a superb pass down the left flank for Francis Jeffers to collect.
The former Everton striker did well to find Michael Gray inside the penalty area but the former Sunderland man's hopeful cross-shot was blocked.
Moments later, Marcus Tudgay crossed low from the left flank and McAllister failed to connect properly with the ball on the edge of the six-yard box.
In the 19th minute, the pendulum swung back in Palace's favour and from Oster's left-wing corner Victor Moses hit the ball against a post after his initial header was blocked.
Jeffers vehemently claimed a penalty in the 25th minute when Jermaine Johnson played a cute ball across the face of goal.
Jeffers and Owls full-back Nathaniel Clyne were shoulder to shoulder as they sought to connect with the ball before Jeffers went to ground, reacting angrily after referee Colin Webster ignored his protests for a spot-kick.
Palace looked more purposeful after the break and threatened to open the scoring within seconds of the restart.
Moses found space inside the Wednesday penalty box and hit a right-foot shot from 12 yards which required a fine block from Richard Hinds.
Palace hit the woodwork again in the 69th minute when Hill greeted Oster's free-kick from the right flank with a firm header that rebounded off a post.
Three minutes later, Potter curled a 20-yard free-kick straight into Julian Speroni's arms but in the 76th minute Tudgay almost conjured a goal worthy of winning any game.
The Owls frontman collected possession, beat a couple of Palace defenders and curled in a left-foot shot which Speroni was forced to parry.
Four minutes later, the breakthrough arrived when the ball found its way to McAllister, lurking unmarked inside the Eagles penalty box, and he chested the ball down and rifled in a fierce left-foot shot.
And in the 93rd minute, Johnson crossed low from the right flank and Clarke sidefooted the ball into the corner.