Sheffield Wednesday’s hopes of avoiding relegation from the Championship suffered another damaging blow as Tyreeq Bakinson’s late leveller earned 10-man Bristol City a 1-1 draw at Hillsborough.
Defeats for Rotherham and Derby had given the Owls, without manager Darren Moore who is suffering from pneumonia triggered by his contraction of Covid-19, a chance to cut the gap.
They made the perfect start when Julian Borner put them ahead in the fourth minute and they were given a further boost as the Robins had Henri Lansbury sent off for deliberate handball.
Wednesday failed to capitalise as captain Barry Bannan saw his spot-kick saved by goalkeeper Daniel Bentley but they held on to their lead until three minutes from time when Bakinson struck.
A third game without a win left the Owls seven points adrift of 21st-placed Derby with just four matches remaining.
Led by assistant manager Jamie Smith in the absence of Moore, the hosts broke the deadlock with their first chance of the afternoon when Borner headed home Josh Windass’ delivery from close range.
In what was a fast-paced start to the game, the visitors searched for an instant equaliser and the recalled Famara Diedhiou tested Wednesday goalkeeper Keiren Westwood down low with a half volley.
Drama followed as Lansbury was sent off by referee Tony Harrington in the 20th minute after the midfielder gave away a penalty for denying Callum Paterson’s goalbound shot with his hand.
Bannan stepped up to the plate but missed the resulting spot-kick, with Bentley diving the right way.
Wednesday went close again to doubling their advantage but Liam Palmer’s rocket shot crashed against a post from the edge of the area.
Windass then headed onto the roof of the net with the interval imminent as the Owls dominated.
Wednesday’s momentum continued as Windass went alone after the re-start. Ignoring options to his left, the attacking midfielder’s strike trickled through a sea of red and into the arms of Bentley.
Kadeem Harris was next to cause the Robins backline problems but he was unable to find the back of the net from Adam Reach’s cross as Bentley was quick off his line to narrow the angle.
Bakinson drove an effort high over the crossbar with just over a quarter of an hour to go as the Owls were forced to absorb a period of pressure.
But Bakinson found an unlikely equaliser in the 87th minute, firing the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.