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Sheffield Wednesday 0 Saints 1
Saints broke their winless streak, their scoring duck and secured Nigel Adkins’ first victory in charge with a 1-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday.
Adkins’ team were full value for their Hillsborough victory, which ended a run of five games without a win, as Lee Barnard struck on the hour mark.
That brought the scoreless streak to an end on 510 minutes with the win lifting Saints out of the League One drop zone and looking upwards once again.
He made that save fairly comfortably but was extended much more on five minutes.
Dean Hammond threaded the ball through the centre of the Sheffield Wednesday defence to Lee Barnard who was one-on-one with the keeper.
His first shot was saved by the sprawling Weaver at his feet, as was the follow up before the ball rolled harmlessly behind.
Saints were only denied by Darren Purse two minutes later as their bright start continued.
A free kick on the right by-line was rolled back to Barnard who in turn laid it off to Jason Puncheon.
His first time curling shot appeared destined for the top corner before Purse threw himself at the ball and took a real whack in the head to deflect it behind.
Saints had started excellently.
They were really putting Wednesday on the back foot and with the Hillsborough fans quickly getting restless the pressure seemed to lead to a few misplaced passes and nervy touches which only helped the cause of Adkins’ men.
Wednesday had their first real effort on 22 minutes when Darren Potter curled a 25-yard free kick over the wall but just wide of the goal with Kelvin Davis diving full length to his right just in case.
They followed that up two minutes later with James O’Connor heading a corner goalwards. It was firm but straight down the middle and Davis reached just under his bar to catch.
Saints came so close on 27 minutes when Rickie Lambert reached a ball on the left by-line and crossed it low across the face of goal. Barnard stretched to try and reach it to turn it into an empty from two yards but couldn’t quite get there.
They got another good opening six minutes later as Lambert slipped the ball through to Chamberlain who shot first time from just inside the area but over the bar.
David had to make his first meaningful save on 37 minutes when Neil Mellor seized on a slip by Radhi Jaidi to curl a loose ball towards the bottom corner before Davis dived to his left to turn it wide.
Moments later he was back at his near post to turn behind a mishit cross.
Hammond became the first man in the book for a late tackle. Morgan Schneiderlin followed shortly afterwards.
Lambert so nearly gave Saints the lead in first-half stoppage time with a diving header from Chamberlain’s right-wing cross but Weaver reacted quickly to dive and save and when the half-time whistle went the game was goalless.
Wednesday made a half-time change with former Saint Jon Otsemobor replacing Purse. Otsemobor went to right back with Lewis Buxton moving to centre half.
Saints tested Weaver six minutes into the second period in slightly strange circumstances.
Schneiderlin tried to volley from 25 yards but the ball skewed off his knee but fell to Barnard whose near post effort took a deflection and needed to be pushed behind.
Moments later Barnard had a glorious opportunity when Schneiderlin’s right-wing cross picked him out at the far post but he put his header wide from six yards out.
Up the other end Giles Coke fired in a long range effort but it was down the middle and Davis saved.
Saints finally broke their scoring duck on the hour mark to take the lead.
Schneiderlin seized on a loose Wednesday pass and broke forward.
He passed into the path of Barnard who took one touch to put the ball in front of him and then another to lift it past the advancing Weaver and into the net for 1-0.
Wednesday responded with a change five minutes later with Clinton Morrison replacing Potter.
Saints had reacted well to their goal, taking the sting out of any potential rearguard action from the Owls.
They had dropped a little deeper but were defending very solidly and with determination to see the job through and grab three points.
Danny Butterfield went into the book for time wasting before both sides made a change on 72 minutes.
For Saints Adam Lallana came on for Barnard while for Wednesday Tommy Miller replaced Gary Teale. Lallana played off of Lambert.
Saints somehow survived a Wednesday onslaught on 76 minutes as Tudgay’s header from a corner was blocked by the chest of Harding on the line before Davis threw himself at Mellor to brilliantly stop the follow up from eight yards out.
Adkins made a second change on 84 minutes with Ryan Dickson coming on for Chamberlain. Dickson went on the left wing with Puncheon switching to the right.
Lallana produced a bit of magic moments later to cut inside and buy himself a yard before curling a shot just over the bar.
Lallana had another opening with three minutes remaining but headed wide from eight yards after being picked out by Dickson’s cross from the left.
Saints looked a little nervous but they were being settled by Wednesday’s ineptitude. The Owls were all over the place and making it easy for Saints to see out the remaining time.
However, Davis still had two saves left to make, diving to his left to keep out Daniel Jones’ 30-yard free kick before Saints killed a few more seconds with Lee Holmes coming on for Puncheon.
Moments later Morrison’s half volley was brilliantly tipped wide by the keeper, again diving to his left.
That was the last kick of the game and it was three points for Saints and some much needed momentum.
For more Saints news and match reaction, don't miss Monday's Daily Echo.
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