Wednesday’s weakness in conceding late goals came back to haunt us once again as two in added time saw struggling Stoke to a 3-2 victory this afternoon.
We trailed 1-0 after a lifeless first 45 minutes from the Owls but looked to have turned the game round ourselves in the second half, goals from Morgan Fox and Tom Lees putting us 2-1 up. However, just when it seemed as though we would be staying in third place and stretching our unbeaten run to seven games, it all went wrong once again in those closing minutes.
The defeat sees us drop one place to fourth, a point behind third-placed Brentford and one of three sides on 39 points.
We had managed just one goalbound effort in that shocking first half showing, Adam Reach seeing his header come back off the post.
Stoke, on the other hand, were well worth their half-time lead, James McClean stabbing them in front from close range on 11 minutes, and Cameron Dawson did well to deny Sam Clucas a second home goal, although the striker really should have scored.
The Potters looked far the sharper and hungrier side during that first half and it was only when Garry Monk made three substitutions in the first 20 minutes of the second half – bringing on Sam Winnall, Sam Hutchinson and Josh Murphy – that we began to show any upturn in performance.
Fox put us on level terms on 67 minutes with an excellent backheeled flick from Barry Bannan’s corner and we were ahead seven minutes later, Tom Lees nodding home after Jack Butland had pushed Winnall’s initial header onto the bar.
However, with Stoke regaining some of their composure and fight in the closing minutes, we began to defend deeper and deeper and with increasing anxiety.
Dawson made a tremendous save to deny Ryan Shawcross but, with three of seven added minutes on the clock, Stoke equalised when we failed to clear and Tyrese Campbell volleyed home from close-in.
Dawson then kept out a fierce effort from Sam Vokes but, in the final minute of added time, the same player was there to poke home Stoke’s winner after Wednesday had again failed to defend convincingly.
Dawson, Palmer, Iorfa, Lees, Fox, Reach, Luongo (Hutchinson 57), Bannan, Harris, Nuhiu (Murphy 65), Rhodes (Winnall 59). Unused subs. Wildsmith, Lee, Pelupessy, Borner. Att: 25,350 (2,885 Wednesdayites).