Odemwingie earns Baggies draw with fine late strike
PETER Odemwingie opened his 'public' pre-season account in the 88th minute to earn the Baggies a more-than-deserved draw from what was only a ‘friendly’ in name.
Albion had trailed Nejc Pecnik’s deflected 34th-minute cross and looked to be heading home empty-handed despite dominating possession.
In what was at times a fiery encounter, Zoltan Gera wasted the Baggies’ best chance of an equaliser when he fired wide from ten yards in the 60th minute.
But Odemwingie, who had previously converted a penalty in a behind-closed-doors run-out against Kidderminster, had the final say, smashing a fine 25-yard strike into the bottom right-hand corner.
New boy Claudio Yacob started on the bench as Steve Clarke named the Argentine international in a matchday squad for the first time.
Fit-again Gera started his second successive match but ex-Wednesday star Chris Brunt (calf) was joined on the sidelines by Steven Reid, who wasn’t risked after suffering a training niggle.
There were two familiar faces in the home ranks. Ex-Albion loan signing Chris Kirkland started in goal while Joe Mattock, released by the Baggies at the end of last season, was named on the bench.
With Albion’s first competitive assignment two weeks away at home to Liverpool, the Owls’ season gets underway in just nine days’ time, when Dave Jones’ team travel to Oldham in the Capital One Cup.
And it was the hosts who threatened first when, in the second minute, Youssouf Mulumbu gifted them possession on the edge of the Baggies box. The Owls worked the ball neatly to Jermaine Johnson, who blazed well wide from the edge of the box.
Albion soon settled into the game, though, and looked bright in possession.
Wednesday tried their luck from distance again in the ninth minute when Ben Foster had little trouble in smothering Pecnik’s deflected 20-yard grass-cutter.
Moments later, Jermaine Johnson ran at Gonzalo Jara Reyes down the Wednesday left before cutting in and screwing wide from 18 yards.
The Owls were now keeping Albion pegged back and, with less than 12 minutes on the clock, Jermaine Johnson recorded his THIRD shot of the game. This time, the former Wolves ace went much closer, curling inches over from a central position 20 yards out.
Two minutes later, it was Wednesday keeper Kirkland’s turn to have cause for concern. Gera and Graham Dorrans linked up well to create a shooting chance for James Morrison, who drilled just wide of the left-hand post from 25 yards.
Odemwingie turned smartly on Liam Ridgewell’s pass just inside the Wednesday penalty area on 17 before dragging a right-footed shot wide of the near post.
Albion were now camped in the Owls half and the wrong-footed Kirkland was relieved to see Dorrans’ free-kick clip the Wednesday wall and loop wide.
Then, on 21, the former Liverpool keeper had to dive to his right to clutch Gera’s rising 18-yard drive.
Long exchanged a neat one-two with Gera in the 26th minute to get in behind the Wednesday defence for the first time, but the Republic of Ireland star dragged his shot wide of Kirkland’s far post from an awkward angle.
Jermaine Johnson hadn’t had a shot for all of 16 minutes but that all changed when he ran at the Albion defence and shot a couple of yards wide from distance.
Back came Albion and Kirkland had to save bravely at the feet of Long on the half-hour-mark after the ex-Reading marksman had chested down Morrison’s clever dink over the top.
Moments later, Long raced onto Morrison’s ball out of defence before teeing up Dorrans, who was just off target from fully 30 yards.
But Albion fell a goal behind in the 34th minute – and could count themselves somewhat unfortunate.
After the visitors only half-cleared a Wednesday corner, Pecnik collected the loose ball 35 yards out on the right and his attempted cross clipped Mulumbu’s head on the edge of the box before looping over the helpless Foster.
Albion were unable to rediscover their fluency for the remainder of the half, which ticked by with little incident.
The Baggies started the second period on the front foot and Gera wasn’t too far away with an 18-yard volley from Dorrans’ corner.
After Wednesday midfielder Chris Lines had to be stretchered off following an awkward fall, Odemwingie turned neatly on edge of the Wednesday box before firing just wide.
Moments later, Kirkland had to dive low to his left to keep out Dorrans’ 25-yard drive from a quickly-taken free-kick.
Albion’s best chance thus far came – and went begging – on the hour mark. Dorrans picked out Gera’s angled run into the box and the Hungarian controlled before firing wastefully wide from ten yards.
Wednesday had spent most of the second period camped in their own half but the visitors had a moment of concern when Jermaine Johnson dispossessed Jara Reyes and sneaked into the box before stabbing weakly at Foster from 16 yards.
Yacob was granted his Albion debut as a 65th-minute replacement for Morrison and soon began spraying the ball about with real composure.
A competitive-but-calm friendly suddenly erupted when Dorrans and Pecnik squared up after the latter's scything challenge. There were more heated scenes when sub Simon Cox showed his displeasure after another late Wednesday tackle.
Albion kept plugging away for a breakthrough and Kirkland had to rush off his line to keep out Long’s stab from a tight angle after Jara Reyes had slipped the striker in down the right-hand channel.
The Baggies finally got their reward two minutes from time when Odemwingie beat Kirkland all ends up with a low 25-yard drive which nestled in the bottom right-hand corner.
WEDNESDAY (4-4-2): Kirkland; Buxton (Mattock 65), Llera, Gardner, R Johnson; Pecnik, Semedo, Lines (Jarolim 53), J Johnson; Harewood (O'Grady 53), Maguire (M Jones 89). Subs not used: Bywater (gk), Beevers, Prutton, Amado, Larrea.
ALBION (4-3-3): Foster; Jara Reyes (Jones 79), McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Morrison (Yacob 65), Dorrans (Cox 79); Odemwingie, Long (Fortune 79), Gera (Thomas 65). Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Hurst, Tamas, El Ghanassy.
GOALS: WEDNESDAY – Pecnik (34). ALBION – Odermwingie (88).
REFEREE M Naylor (South Yorkshire)
ATTENDANCE: 6,805 (451 Albion fans).
ALBION STARMAN: Liam Ridgewell.