Sidebar

18
Mon, Dec
41 New Articles

Typography
Steven MacLean hit a hat-trick as Wednesday got back to winning ways by maintaining their unbeaten league record against Doncaster Rovers.


The Scot set the Owls on their way and the impressive Kenwyne Jones notched a second on his debut against the run of play. Jones then created the third for his strike partner and Peacock set up MacLean's treble as the visitors overcome a nervy opening to end Rovers' unbeaten League One record at Belle Vue.

This was the first time Wednesday had faced Doncaster in competitive action for 26 years and there was real anticipation in the Earth Stadium throughout a frenzied build-up to the midday kick-off. The largely terraced stands were also a throwback to the 1970's while the opening passage of play had all the blood-and-thunder hallmarks of a local derby.

Paul Sturrock had made four changes to his side, replacing the injured Guy Branston and Patrick Collins with Graeme Lee and Richard Wood, while choosing to prefer Matt Hamshaw and debutant Jones to Chris Brunt and Lee Peacock.

All four new faces were involved in the opening minutes, the two centre-backs relieved after just 36 seconds when Gregg Blundell sidefooted wide after racing onto Michael McIndoe's through-ball. Seconds later, at the other end, Jones was inches away from making a decisive connection with Hamshaw's delivery into the danger zone.

Rovers proceeded to settle the better and put the Owls under severe pressure, McIndoe curling a free-kick wide seven minutes in. But, two minutes later, Wednesday broke away to take the lead with MacLean's tenth goal of the season. Lee Bullen swung in a cross from the right and his Scottish counterpart had time to chest down the ball before making no mistake from six yards out.

Wednesday continued to look uncertain at the back and received a let-off when the otherwise excellent Glenn Whelan's weakly headed backpass was nodded wide by Blundell. Three minutes later, the striker broke the offside trap when running onto Paul Green's looping pass but failed to control the ball with only David Lucas to beat.

The Owls were still under fierce pressure, midway through the half, when they broke away to add a second. Heckingbottom lashed a high ball out of defence and, when Jones pressurised home keeper Andy Warrington just outside his area, he totally missed his kick. The Trinidad and Tobago international gleefully slid the ball into an empty net to double the advantage, to the delight of 3,200 Wednesdayites who had made the journey.

As Sturrock's men got stuck in to ensure they preserved their lead, an already full-blooded encounter was punctuated by a series of late tackles. The visitors' midfield pairing of Whelan and Joey O'Brien were first into the referee's notebook, followed swiftly by three Rovers men.

But neither side could capitalise on a string of free-kicks awarded just outside the penalty area - mostly to the hosts - and Rovers instead came closest to pulling a first-half goal back through a piece of magic from highly-rated Scottish winger McIndoe. Two minutes before the break he played a one-two with Neil Roberts and his fierce drive beat Lucas, only to rebound back off the full face of the post.

Doncaster came out for the second half determined to keep the Owls on the back foot and Sturrock's men were forced to concentrate to deal with with some dangerous set pieces. The hosts did have the ball in the net once - but only after the linesman's flag had been raised for offside, while Wood cleared one shot off the line after Lucas had been fouled.

The tackles continued to fly in as the Owls defended their lead with vigour. Paul Heckingbottom was glad only to see a yellow card for foul on substitute James Coppinger while the already-booked Whelan also late on Simon Marples.

But, having shown their steel, the Owls then showed they have some silk to go with it, with Jones' powerful run creating a third goal. He burst his way into the penalty area and squared a low ball for MacLean to hit his second from point-blank range.

Wood should have added a fourth, when arriving late at a Jon-Paul McGovern corner, only for his downward header to bounce over the bar. But MacLean completed his treble - the first by an Owl in the league since Gerald Sibon's against QPR in November 2000 - with a simple header after good work by substitute Lee Peacock.

Rovers left-back Tim Ryan was narrowly wide with a consolation attempt from 25 yards, while McGovern could have made it five. His chip over Warrington bounced the wrong side of the post.

Wednesday had hit four away from home for the second time running and continued their unbeaten record at Belle Vue in fine style.

Doncaster (4-4-2): Warrington; Marples, Morley, Fenton, Ryan; Johnson (Coppinger 52), Ravenhill (Doolan 61), Green, McIndoe; Blundell (Ipoua 61), Roberts. Subs: Jones, Doolan, Coppinger, Mulligan, Ipoua.

Wednesday (4-4-2): Lucas; Bullen, Lee, Wood, Heckingbottom; McGovern, Whelan, O'Brien, Hamshaw (Brunt 73); Jones (Peacock 70), MacLean (Ndumbu 87). Subs: Poulter, Greenwood, Brunt, Ndumbu, Peacock.

Booked: Whelan (persistent misconduct) 30mins, O'Brien (foul) 32mins, Morley (foul) 33mins, Ravenhill (foul) 39mins, Fenton (foul) 45+1min, Heckingbottom (foul) 55mins