Wednesday fell out of the automatic promotion places after a sixth successive game without a win in a 1-1 draw at Oxford this afternoon.
It was another disappointing display from the Owls and with promotion rivals Ipswich (4-0 at home to Wycombe) and Plymouth (3-1 at Morecambe) both winning, we now find ourselves down in third place at just the wrong time of the season.
Plymouth lead the way with 83 points from 39 games, Ipswich are on 81 points from the same number of matches, with Wednesday also on 81 points but having played a game more than the leading two. Fourth-placed Barnsley, who lost 2-1 at Burton, trail us by six points but have played a game fewer than the Owls.
Home keeper Simon Eastwood looked shaky early on and fumbled a long-range strike from Reece James on 15 minutes before gathering at the second attempt.
Three minutes later David Stockdale was in action at the other end, producing a point-blank block from Elliott Moore’s close-range header.
However, it was Wednesday who broke the deadlock just after the half-hour mark through Barry Bannan, the skipper cutting in from the right on the edge of the penalty area and curling a super strike just inside the far post.
Boosted by the opener, we began the second period in dominant fashion and might easily have doubled our lead in the first three minutes of the half.
Mallik Wilks saw his powerful low drive from the edge of the box saved by Eastwood and the keeper then pushed away a header from the same player, before Dennis Adeniran tested him from the resulting corner.
At the other end, Aden Flint produced an excellent block to thwart Gatlin O’Donkor from a dangerous low cross from Kyle Joseph before Lee Gregory missed an opening for Wednesday, the striker slipping as he shot from 15 yards and the effort going just wide.
Oxford had appeals for a penalty turned down, with TV replays showing Wilks pulling an Oxford player in the box but, minutes later, referee Rebecca Welch did award the home side a spot kick in a controversial incident with 20 minutes remaining.
A shot bounced off Stockdale and Akin Famewo was then adjudged to have brought down Marcus Browne when the Oxford man attempted to hurdle Famewo as the defender was picking himself up from the turf.
The penalty was given and Cameron Brannagan stepped up to fire home past a diving Stockdale.
Minutes later, the Owls keeper came to the rescue with a tremendous reflex save to keep out another close-range header from Moore.
We failed to regained the impetus of that early promise to the second half and rarely threatened to regain the lead in the closing stages.
Stockdale, Palmer, James, Flint, Famewo, Johnson, Vaulks, Bannan, Adeniran (Iorfa 84), Wilks (Dele-Bashiru 72), Gregory. Unused subs: Dawson, Brown, Bakinson, Shipston, Durrant.