They say football is a game of two halves and Sheffield Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over Derby County certainly showed that.
A dull and goalless first 45 minutes left much to be desired; luckily an entertaining second provided frantic, frenetic and ferocious football, the Owls coming back from behind to seal their fifth win in a row, leaving them fourth in the Championship.
Wednesday had the first obvious opportunity after Adam Reach made a mess of a header from close range, just before two penalty appeals were waved away in quick succession. Barry Bannan attempted a volley from around 20 yards out which sailed over the crossbar while Steven Fletcher failed to find the target after not properly connecting a looping Jack Hunt cross.
Derby’s best chance of the half came from a great run by Johnny Russell who found Ikechi Anya on the left but his shot from inside the box could only find the side netting.
The second half got off to a flying start as Derby came close within two minutes in, but Kieren Westwood denied Darren Bent from close range. The Rams’ striker would not be kept out for long though as a minute later he scored a header from the resulting corner whipped in by Russell.
Wednesday responded immediately at the other end. Daniel Pudil’s cross was met by Fletcher whose bullet header ricocheted off the crossbar much to the anguish of the home fans, while at the other end Will Hughes had an effort cleared off the line in an attempt to make it 2-0.
Shortly after The Owls equalised when Jordan Rhodes picked up a looping Ross Wallace cross, and after a simple lay-off to Fletcher the striker fired home for his fourth goal in as many games.
In a few minutes the home side found themselves in-front. Derby goalkeeper Scott Carson tried to parry a cross away but the ball landed in front of Gary Hooper who made no mistake in scoring into an almost open net and sending Hillsborough into euphoria.
The drama wasn’t quite finished as fresh substitute Fernando Forestieri ran through for a one on one after stealing the ball from Anya, the defender managing to get back and make the important challenge to prevent the Owls extending their lead.
In the dying minutes the Rams thought they had equalised but Westwood’s reflex save denied first Chris Baird and then moments later put his body on the line to stop Nugent. Wednesday held on to the win and now need just two points to be guaranteed of a promotion spot.
Sheffield Wednesday Coach Lee Bullen, said: “The lads took that on the chin, rolled their sleeves up and showed a lot of quality for a period of 15 minutes to get the two goals.”
Derby County manager Gary Rowett said: “We started slowly, I was really disappointed with the first 20 minutes.
“Having got the goal we looked pretty much in control and that was a disappointment for me.
“We probably should have got the second, and I think we deserved a point out of the game.”