Another step forward
Wednesday took another step towards Championship safety on Saturday at Hillsborough with a 1-1 draw against Ipswich.
A point sees the Owls move four clear of the drop zone with two games of the season left to play.
The visitors struck first in the opening half through Jay Tabb before loan ace Leroy Lita levelled for Wednesday after the break.
Having got back on level terms, Lita then had a goal chalked off as the hitman was adjudged to have headed home a Jeremy Helan cross from an offside position.
But with the Championship campaign well into its final stages, another point on the board for the Owls could prove crucial in their bid to retain second tier status.
The Owls went into their penultimate home game of the season three points clear of the dangerzone after three consecutive away games at Milwall, Leeds and Blackpool.
A midweek win for visitors Ipswich over Crystal Palace had given Mick McCarthy’s men breathing space in the relegation scrap, as they went into the clash two points above the Owls.
The game was a tricky one for the Owls on paper, with Ipswich rejuvenated since McCarthy’s appointment at the helm in November 2012, with only Cardiff, Watford and Hull having gained more points since the turn of the year.
Finding the net away from home has been a major problem for the Tractor Boys, who have registered just 13 goals on their travels all term – but it was the team in all white who threatened first in S6.
Tabb’s cross from the right was dangerous, and Tommy Smith climbed high to head on target but Danny Pugh was on hand to head off the line at the back stick.
The Owls were dealt a huge blow on 12 minutes, when Ipswich stole into the lead.
A long throw from Carlos Edwards into the mix fell kindly for Tabb, who seemed to deflect the ball into the back of the net.
The pressure was coming from the Tractor Boys as Wednesday had Chris Kirkland to thank for preventing a quickfire second goal.
Luke Hyam took aim from distance before unleashing a thumping drive on target but Kirkland produced a fine diving stop to send behind for a corner.
More misfortune was to follow for Wednesday when dangerman Jermaine Johnson was withdrawn through injury at the first half midway point .
Wednesday, though, went on the hunt for the equaliser and came close five minutes before the interval but Howard headed over from Pugh’s flag kick.
Lita was then denied by a fine piece of goalkeeping from Scott Loach, who saved the striker’s effort from close range before Anthony Gardner saw his follow-up shot cleared off the line by Smith.
After the resumption, ex-Owl loanee Daryl Murphy tried his luck from outside the box but his curled effort whistled inches wide of Kirkland right hand upright.
Wednesday looked to up the ante and almost found their way through on goal when Llera raced clear before being halted by a superb last ditch challenge by Luke Chambers.
But as the Owls turned the screw, Ipswich could not keep Dave Jones’ men at bay as Lita fired home his fifth goal for Wednesday.
Following excellent approach play by Lewis Buxton down the right, the full back managed to engineer space to whip in his centre which fell nicely for Lita, who blasted home from six yards.
The home side were visibly buoyed by the equaliser and promptly went in search of gaining the lead – and almost did so with the next corner.
Chris Maguire delivered an inch perfect set piece for Llera to attack but the defender’s header flashed wide of the target.
Celebrations were then brought to an abrupt halt when Lita found the back of the net with a header after industrious work from Jeremy Helan on the left, as the referee’s assistant indicated the striker was offside.
After confusion in the Owls’ box from a long throw, Pugh made another vital goalline clearance to prevent the Suffolk side from regaining their advantage.
Three minutes of added time were signalled in S6 but there was no further drama as the referee brought an end to an entertaining stalemate.
Owls: Kirkland, Buxton, Gardner, Llera, Pugh, Lee (Howard 25), Olofinjana, Coke, Helan, J Johnson (Maguire 28), Lita
Unused substitutes: Bywater, Taylor, Mattock, McCabe, Prutton
Ipswich: Loach, Cresswell, Chambers, Stearman (Kisnorbo 68), Edwards, N’Daw, Tabb (Wordsworth 83), Hyam, Smith, Murphy (Emmanuel-Thomas 80), Nouble
Unused substitutes: Lee-Barrett, Hewitt, Chopra, Drury