Report: Sheffield Wednesday 3 Albion 1Albion suffered another gruelling away day, losing 3-1 at Sheffield Wednesday, as Ashley Barnes saw red, to continue the club’s miserable record at the home of the Owls.
It was a chastising afternoon for Gus Poyet’s men who fell behind after just five minutes to Leroy Lita’s volley.
Barnes was then dismissed for a lunging tackle just past the 30 minute mark, with Danny Pugh scoring from the resulting free-kick, as the Sheffield side opened up a 2-0 lead.
Andrea Orlandi’s strike had given hope of a comeback, only for Michail Antonio’s scrambled goal to seal the points for Dave Jones’s team.
After a quiet opening five minutes, Hillsborough soon erupted as Lita leapt at the far post to guide Antonio’s inch perfect cross into the top corner.
After a somewhat sluggish start, Poyet’s men started to pose more of an attacking threat and Leonardo Ulloa was denied his second goal in as many games by the left hand of Chris Kirkland.
And Albion’s recent acquisition came close again on 25 minutes as he controlled Dean Hammond’s looped ball into the box before scooping his effort over the bar. However the striker’s blushes were spared by the linesman’s flag.
Then just past the half hour mark Barnes received his marching orders, adding to the Seagulls' first-half woes. The former Plymouth man’s two footed lunge giving referee Simon Hooper little choice as he instantly brandished a red card.
When it rains, it pours, and direct from the resulting free-kick Pugh curled a low effort through a sea of bodies and into the far corner.
At half-time the outcome was looking immensely bleak for Poyet's men.
However Albion came out of the blocks with more purpose and Ulloa once again provided the Seagulls’ threat, this time cutting onto his right foot before an excellent block from Anthony Gardner denied the South American.
But the hosts fired straight back and nearly went into a three goal lead as Antonio’s cross was stabbed wide from close range by the lively Lita.
Albion found their usual passing groove after the re-start but were struggling to find a crack in the stubborn Wednesday backline.
But on 54 minutes the rejuvenated Seagulls found a way back into the game. Craig Mackail-Smith beat Lewis Buxton before driving the ball across the face of goal. The Owls failed to clear their lines and with the ball rolling into the path of Orlandi, the Spaniard made no mistake, smashing his low effort into the back of the net.
Albion were sensing a fightback and there was a ripple of nerves around Hillsborough, however the home fans soon had their fears quelled.
An in-swinging corner was missed by Tomasz Kuszczak and floated over the Pole’s head; Antonio was on hand to bundle home.
Pugh then lunged in on stand-in captain Inigo Calderon, but this time Hooper opted for a yellow card rather than another red.
The host’s third goal knocked the wind out of Albion’s sails but half-way through the second period Wednesday failed to deal with a Brighton corner, but neither Adam El-Abd or Mackail-Smith were able to steer the ball on target as it dribbled safely wide.
Giles Coke forced Kuszczak into action as the hosts looked to rub salt into Albion’s wounds before a late Calderon header was guided over by Kirkland.
So Albion continue to search for that first win at Hillsborough as they suffer their first league defeat of 2013.