Owls miss out at Rangers
The Owls’ 2013/14 campaign kicked off with defeat at QPR – but on another day Dave Jones’ side could have been celebrating victory.
After taking a first half lead courtesy of new signing Atdhe Nihiu, Wednesday were denied one penalty claim and then another in the second period following a quickfire brace from Nedum Onouha and Andy Johnson that ultimately gave the hosts the points.
Fellow new recruit Jacques Maghoma also hit the post to sum up a luckless afternoon for the visitors.
Early on, however, the odds were on the Londoners laying the foundations for a win.
Rangers meant business from the outset and threatened first through pacy winger Junior Hoilett, who burst forward to the edge of the area before unleashing a fierce drive that flew wide.
Johnson then drilled a low shot goalwards that was deflected wide as the home side turned the screw in the early exchanges.
Johnson went closer still on eight minutes, forcing a fine save from Chris Kirkland after a vicious shot from 12 yards looked to be heading in.
The R’s pressure eased, though, and Wednesday looked more and more comfortable moving forward themselves.
And on 18 minutes, they were rewarded with a stunning strike from Nuhiu.
The big man picked up possession 25 yards from goal, beat off three challenges and hit an unstoppable drive into the bottom corner to give the visitors the lead.
QPR regrouped and almost equalised on the half-hour mark when Joey Barton delivered a teasing cross to the far post that Hoilett skied on the run.
Ten minutes before the break, Kirkland denied Bobby Zamora with a diving save following a sustained period of Rangers attacks.
But just as it seemed the Owls would head down the tunnel in front, a string of events went against them that turned the game on its head.
First, Joe Mattock fell victim to injury and was withdrawn, then Michail Antonio had a shout for a penalty turned down when the winger went down under a challenge from Armand Traore.
And Wednesday were then struck by a double blow that altered the course of the contest.
On 38 minutes, Onouha stabbed home from close range after a mishit shot from Hoilett, before Johnson hit a sweet volley past Kirkland two minutes later after the keeper kept out a Barton header.
It was hard on the Owls but they should have equalised four minutes after the restart when Jermaine Johnson broke free of his marker to advance and square for Antonio, whose shot from ten yards failed to find the target.
That was after Kirkland had again thwarted Hoilett with a reflex save as Rangers were out of the traps apace.
But Wednesday still looked dangerous in the final third and substitute Maghoma seemed to be clipped in the box by Barton but again the penalty claims were waved away – and Moghoma was booked for simulation.
The Owls gave as good as they got as the remainder of the game unfolded but action of note was in short supply at either end until the closing stages when Kirkland twice foiled Hoilett and new R’s striker Charkie Austin was inches away from marking his debut with a goal.
QPR: Green, Simpson, Traore, Hill, Johnson, Onuoha, Barton (Wright-Phillips 79), Henry, Hoilett (Jenas 88), Zamora (Austin 68), Faurlin
Owls: Kirkland, Palmer, Gardner, Zayatte, Mattock (Maghoma 37), Antonio, Prutton, Coke (McCabe 68), Helan, Nuhiu (Madine 77), J Johnson