Three points were wrestled from the grips of AFC Bournemouth when a stoppage time penalty denied the hosts a second home comeback in as many games.
Yann Kermorgant’s towering header cancelled out Kieran Lee’s opener, before Matt Ritchie’s thunderous set-piece looked to have sent the Cherries back to the top of the Football League despite a second yellow card for Simon Francis.
But deep into five minutes of injury time substitute Atdhe Nuhiu was impeded by Adam Smith inside the box, and Chris Maguire stepped up to deny the Cherries their fourth straight win.
Sheffield Wednesday were dealt a double blow early on when Keiren Westwood withdrew from the starting XI before a ball was kicked after an injury in the warm-up, before Sam Hutchinson limped off on 14 minutes after hurting himself when committing a foul on Charlie Daniels.
Despite the setbacks, the Owls were first to have anything more than a half chance on goal. Steve Cook’s clearance came back off Jacques Maghoma, and the substitute forced an onrushing Artur Boruc into a desperate stop at his feet. With the ball still ricocheting around the Cherries’ box, Lee fired a volley towards the unguarded net but a full stretch Daniels managed to clear with a timely block.
Despite having the bulk of possession and producing a number of searching through balls in the final third, the Cherries couldn’t carve out a shot on target and were made to pay in the 36th minute. Lewis Buxton’s deep cross was met by Kieran Lee at full pace, and his header nestled neatly into the corner of Boruc’s net to put the Owls ahead.
Kirkland was tested for the first time when Harry Arter’s stinging 25-yard strike forced him into a fine reaction stop, and Tommy Elphick could only guide the resultant corner wide of the upright.
A frantic six minutes of injury time was played out like a pendulum, with chaos at both ends. Maghoma’s deflected effort was held by Boruc, before Marc Pugh put Andrew Surman clean through at the other end. Wednesday’s Jeremy Helan recovered seemingly lost ground to put in a last ditch tackle on the midfielder, but despite the home side’s appeals for a spot-kick, referee Paul Tierney called time on the half with the Cherries in arrears.
With the hosts huffing and puffing and searching for an equaliser, it was Sheffield Wednesday who nearly extended their lead 15 minutes into the second period. Francis went into the book for a professional foul on Isgrove, and Chris Maguire’s free kick cannoned back off the post, just too fast for Caolan Lavery who could not keep his rebound beneath the upright.
Five minutes later Buxton was forced to take extreme measures when Callum Wilson was put clean through on goal. Bearing down on Kirkland in the shade of the Main Stand, the full back looked to bundle Wilson out of play, but whilst the home faithful were adamant he was infringed, Tierney once again waved appeals away confidently.
Four minutes later the Cherries were level. Arter held up play on the left of the Wednesday box to bring Matt Ritchie into play, and his dinked cross was met by the towering Frenchman Kermorgant who made no mistake with his header.
With ten minutes to play and the hosts in search of a winner, the comeback operation looked to have been derailed when Simon Francis’ clumsy challenge earned him a second yellow card and an early exit from pulsating game. Elliott Ward was sent on to shore up the back, but despite the deficit in bodies the Cherries looked to have completed a remarkable turnaround five minutes later. Surman was fouled some 25 yards out, and proceeded to lay off the free kick to Matt Ritchie who rifled his effort into the top corner of the net.
For ten minutes there was a carnival atmosphere at the Goldands Stadium, but with the clock closing in on 90+5 three points slipped through the Cherries’ fingers. Referee Tierney did what he didn’t on two previous occasions and pointed to the spot when Nuhiu went sprawling on the edge of the box, and Maguire broke Bournemouth hearts by side footing into the corner of the net.
Cherries: Boruc, Francis, Cook (Jones 64), Elphick, Daniels, Ritchie, Surman, Arter, Pugh (Smith 57), Kermorgant (Ward 81), Wilson.
Unused substitutes: Camp, Ward, Gosling, Fraser.
Booked: Cook, Francis
Sent off: Francis
Goals: Kermorgant 69, Ritchie 84.
Sheffield Wednesday: Kirkland, Buxton, Lees, Zayatte (Vermijl 45), Helan, Lee, Hutchinson (Maghoma 15), Melo, Isgrove (Nuhiu 64), Maguire, Lavery.
Kirkland, Vermijl, Maghoma, McCabe, Nuhiu, May, Bus.
Booked: Isgrove, Buxton, Helan.
Goals: Lee 36, Maguire 90 (pen).
Attendance: 11,280 (1,328 away supporters)