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Wednesday earn point at Stoke to maintain play-off push

Championship play-off hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday extended their unbeaten league run to 12 games after frustrating Stoke into a 0-0 draw at the bet365 Stadium.

Early chances were few and far between on a sunny Staffordshire afternoon as Tom Ince flashed a low shot across the face of goal for Stoke, while up the other end Barry Bannan’s daisy-cutter from distance was off target.

George Boyd had the ball in the back of the net on the half hour but after latching onto Gary Hooper’s pass and rounding Potters goalkeeper Jack Butland, Steve Bruce’s Owls were denied an opener through the linesman’s flag.

Stoke right-back Tom Edwards tried his luck shortly before half-time as Nathan Jones’ side pushed to open the scoring, running into space before bending his left-footed effort just beyond Keiren Westwood’s left-hand post.

After the break, Westwood came to Wednesday’s rescue when a sweeping counter-attack saw Ince feed Bojan inside the penalty area to go one-on-one with the Republic of Ireland international, who spread himself brilliantly to turn the ball around the post for a corner.

Just past the hour-mark, Westwood thwarted the hosts again, this time pulling off a fine low stop to keep out Benik Afobe’s header following on from Edwards’ inviting cross from the right.

Wednesday found themselves pinned into their own penalty area and were forced to deal with a number of set-piece situations prior to James McClean skewing an attempt wide.

The lively Ince was proving a thorn in the Hillsborough club’s side and after nearly controlling a lofted pass down the right, the midfielder cut inside but saw his effort charged down and deflected away for a corner.

Central defender Danny Batth was the next player go close for Stoke, powering a header which was sent wide after Thibaud Verlinden’s cross.

Backed by over 2,000 supporters who had made the journey from the Steel City, the visitors created openings of their own.

Midfielder Bannan floated a ball into the box which was flicked on by substitute Atdhe Nuhiu into the path of Sam Winnall, but the forward glanced his header the wrong side of the post.

Having grown into the contest, the South Yorkshire outfit almost went in front when midfielder Liam Palmer broke down the right to cut into the box, only to be denied by the onrushing Butland who bravely dived at his feet.

In the closing eight minutes, Westwood was there to frustrate Ince one-on-one, making another sprawling save to narrow down the angle.

Bruce’s upwardly-moving men remain in play-off contention, just three points from the top six.