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Burnley made a brilliant start last night at Sheffield Wednesday, taking the lead in only the third minute, but we had, in the end, to settle for a point from a 1-1 draw against a team pushing to get into the top six.

I always have mixed feelings going to Hillsborough. I hate the Leppins Lane end of the ground because of the events of 1989, but it has been a good ground for us in previous years and we had won on five of our last eight visits with the only defeat being that opening day shocker in 2008 when we failed to be inspired by new signings Diego Penny and Remco van der Schaaf.

We were there in good time last night; even earlier than envisaged with no queue worth bothering about at the end of the M67 before the drive over Woodhead. There was a bit of rain about to add to the dropping temperatures. I lived in Sheffield for three years and it is certainly a colder place than Burnley; by the end of this game I was bemoaning the fact that I’d left my thermals at home.

The rain forced us into the ground earlier than we’d planned and a word for the stewards here. Because of the numbers it was a case of sit where you want and the stewards were asking those who preferred to stand to make their way to the back few rows of the stand.

Another goal for Andre Gray
Another goal for Andre Gray

There has been a big debate on the message board since the Arsenal game when people were forced to stand to watch, some still not even able to see, particularly children. It’s a massive problem in the game that can only get worse until some sort of standing areas are permitted.

It’s refreshing, not only to see stewards using some sensible initiative as they did last night, but also being helpful and polite. I know if it’s a full house this can’t be done, but the attitude of the stewards at Hillsborough was just the same last time we were there.

There was no surprise with the team news. Matt Lowton and Joey Barton were back in the starting line up which was the same as that which had started the 4-1 win against Derby eight days earlier. With Dean Marney injured, Fredrik Ulvestad was named as one of the substitutes.

New signing James Tarkowski was unavailable, not having signed in time, but Wednesday were able to name Aiden McGeady as one of their substitutes with his move on transfer deadline day being a loan.

Ahead of the game there had been talk of a big crowd. It certainly didn’t materialise. There were less than 20,000 there, below the average attendance for the oft overpriced matches at this ground.

The drum was still there, banging incessantly throughout the game. It’s bad enough having to put up with it from the far end, heaven help those who are sat near it. “We’re Burnley FC – we don’t need a drum”, was the response from the travelling Clarets.

We silenced that drum very early in the game with a goal as early as the third minute. It all came from a thrown in on the right. Sam Vokes did really well to turn the defender and his low cross found an unmarked Andre Gray who made no mistake in finishing from close range.

For a while Wednesday weren’t in the game and we might have doubled that lead when Scott Arfield got a chance which he hit over the bar, but there was eventually a response from the home side.

They seemed to have this idea that falling down in and around the penalty box might do the trick. Some of their antics were appalling to say the least. You have to say that referee Andy Woolmer didn’t fall for any of it but his inability to stop it was shocking. Indeed, Woolmer got what he came for during that first half when he booked Joey Barton for a nothing foul, and his first of the game.

It was still 1-0 at half time and to be honest I’d not been the slightest bit concerned. Apart from a short spell they’d offered precious little and we had been by far the better of the two sides.

Unfortunately, that all changed early in the second half. Barry Bannan lifted a ball into our box. Atdhe Nuhiu, one of the three main diving Tom Daley members of the team, headed it across for a completely unmarked Kieran Lee to turn the ball home.

Now it was going to be a more difficult game and for a while I had concerns that Wednesday might get another and go on to take the points. But, just before the hour, we replaced George Boyd with Matt Taylor and from that point on I thought we were once again the better team.

We got the one big chance and it came from a fantastic Taylor cross that Vokes just couldn’t quite turn in at the far post, and as the game moved towards the last ten to fifteen minutes there was only one team really looking to try and take all three points.

We pushed forward whilst Wednesday by now had been reduced to no more than shooting from distance.

The closest we came was a volley from Stephen Ward that hit the inside of the post but, astonishingly, Woolmer had already awarded a ridiculous free kick against Ben Mee.

Much of the closing stages was spent with Burnley going forward and it all ended with Rouwen Hennings hitting a shot straight at Keiren Westwood which the goalkeeper saved comfortably.

Hennings had not long been on with Wednesday also making a change at the same time, giving McGeady a debut with Ross Wallace the player coming off. It was good to see the warm reception for the former Claret received from the Burnley fans.

Sheffield Wednesday have a good home record so this is, undoubtedly, a good point to win although I do think, over the ninety minutes, we were the better of the two teams. So did Wednesday’s Jack Hunt who tweeted : “A point against a good Burnley team who will be up there come the end of the season isn’t too bad.”

We have another one of the really tough games this Saturday when leaders Hull visit the Turf. Both teams are going well and it should be a good game. We owe them one after Boxing Day when we were far from being our best.

The teams last night were;

Sheffield Wednesday: Keiren Westwood, Jack Hunt, Sam Hutchinson, Glenn Loovens, Daniel Pudil, Ross Wallace (Aiden McGeady 87), Kieran Lee, Barry Bannan, Fernando Forestieri, Gary Hooper, Atdhe Nuhiu (Lucas Joao 82). Subs not used: Lewis Price, Jose Semedo, Lewis McGugan, Joe Bennett, Vincent Sasso.
Yellow Card: Kieran Lee.

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd (Matt Taylor 59), Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray (Rouwen Hennings 87). Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, Michael Duff, Fredrik Ulvestad, Michael Kightly.
Yellow Cards: Joey Barton, Michael Keane.

Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northamptonshire).

Attendance: 19,762 (including 1,012 Clarets).

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