Sheffield Wednesday 2-2 Stoke: Owls battle back to earn point
Last Updated: 16/09/18 7:39pm
Sheffield Wednesday came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Stoke and extend their unbeaten run to four league games.
Two first-half goals from Benik Afobe on his return to the side put the visitors in control of this Sky Bet Championship contest at Hillsborough midway through the first half.
However, Marco Matias pulled a goal back within two minutes and Barry Bannan grabbed the equaliser with eight minutes remaining.
Wednesday boss Jos Luhukay made one change to his starting line-up with Steven Fletcher returning in attack in place of Atdhe Nuhiu, who was among the substitutes.
In the Stoke line-up, Ryan Woods was handed his full debut for the club and Tom Ince and Afobe earned recalls, with Peter Crouch and Saido Berahino dropping down to the bench.
It took less than two minutes for Stoke to open the scoring, Peter Etebo and Mame Diouf combining to set up Afobe, who fired past goalkeeper Cameron Dawson from inside the area.
Ince came close to putting the visitors further ahead just a few minutes later, shooting narrowly wide from the edge of the area.
Wednesday's first effort of note came from Lucas Joao, who shot just over.
Afobe doubled his goal tally and put Stoke 2-0 ahead in the 22nd minute after Ince slipped the ball through to him - with Wednesday's appeals for offside ignored.
Joao shot wide from inside the area before the home side reduced the arrears when Bannan's long ball into the area was chested down by Fletcher into the path of Matias (24), who beat Jack Butland with ease.
Ince had a shot deflected off-target early in the second half, then Jordan Thorniley came to Wednesday's rescue by heading Diouf's dangerous cross over his own bar.
Ince had another effort deflected wide after causing problems for the defence with his close control inside the area.
Adam Reach was on target with an effort from just outside the area but it was straight at Butland, then Dawson had to be alert when Liam Palmer's header away rebounded off Afobe - the ball was heading goalwards until the keeper got down to his right to turn the ball wide.
The visitors went close again when Etebo's firm shot was saved by Dawson at his near post and then Diouf saw his shot deflected wide.
Wednesday made a double substitution in the 68th minute with Nuhiu and on-loan Tottenham man Josh Onomah replacing Joey Pelupessy and Matias.
Matt Penney did well to carve out a chance for himself, producing a strong run down the left wing before playing a one-two with Nuhiu and seeing his shot saved by Butland.
With eight minutes remaining, Bannan equalised with a superbly taken free-kick from just outside the 'D', floating the ball over the defensive wall and leaving Butland rooted to the spot as the ball went in off the keeper's left-hand post.
Stoke boss Gary Rowett sent on Darren Fletcher and Bojan in place of Etebo and Diouf, then Peter Crouch also joined the action as a replacement for Afobe.
Michael Hector took over from Reach in the home line-up for the closing stages - and the closest either team came to a goal was when Bojan's stoppage-time free-kick went well over.
Jos Luhukay: "It was a very tough game for us. The first 20-25 minutes were very difficult. We had too much respect. We must have the confidence in each other. We must believe we can make surprises. We know we must do a lot of things better.
"After the second goal, our fans stayed completely behind the team. At the end we were happy it was 2-2 against a very good team. It was a fantastic free-kick from Barry - which was a very important goal for us - and what a pass for the first goal. He gives the team possibilities. If we didn't have Barry today, it would have been very difficult."
Gary Rowett: "For 30 minutes I felt we were in full control of the game and we could have been further ahead. We then conceded a goal which gave them a huge lift for five to 10 minutes and we lost a bit of intensity.
"We created further chances in the second half and I felt we should have won the game comfortably. It's frustrating when you don't win games. I'm disappointed with the result but pleased with a vastly improved performance. We weren't quite clinical enough but if we play like that, we'll win lots of games of football. I thought we passed the ball really well and it was a lot closer to what we expect from our players. We've now got to build on that performance."