Sheffield Wednesday remain rooted to the bottom of the Championship table after a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town.
The Terriers were good value for their win against a below-par Wednesday side who sit four points adrift of safety following the effects of a pre-season points deduction for a breach of EFL spending rules.
Results have improved since survival specialist Tony Pulis replaced Garry Monk as manager last month, but the Owls created little in an insipid display during which they managed just two shots on target.
In truth, it was a less than stellar affair with the hosts two goals being their only two attempts, the first coming 11 minutes in when Josh Koroma found the far corner from inside the box after a neat pass from Frazier Campbell.
Huddersfield’s opener was, bizarrely, their first goal in this fixture since 2011, ending a run of eight straight clean sheets for the Owls at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Isaac Mbenza had the ball in the net for Huddersfield just minutes later, but the goal was ruled out for offside. This disallowed strike proved to be a harbinger of things to come for the visitors.
If this lucky escape was a warning to the visitors it wasn’t one they heeded as Huddersfield continued to threaten, Mbenza firing wide from distance.
Matters were made worse for the visitors when defender Julian Börner was forced off with a head injury and was replaced by Liam Palmer.
The games standout moment came midway through the first half when Mbenza doubled the West Yorkshire clubs lead with a sublime free-kick from just outside the penalty area.
Wednesday were lucky to touch the ball, let alone make advances on the Huddersfield goal but finally had a sniff of a goal when Tom Lees header from a corner was saved by Terriers keeper Ben Hamer.
Pulis would have hoped for an immediate reaction from his players after the half time interval but his men had a nightmare start after giving away a penalty shortly after the restart. Dominic Iorfa brought down Juninho Bacuna only for his blushes to be spared when Bacuna fired wide from twelve yards.
This let-off was not the catalyst for a Wednesday comeback and in truth, they rarely threatened during a quiet second half in which a third goal always looked more likely than a fightback.
The game fizzled out with Huddersfield’s win leaving them firmly mid-table in 12th while Wednesday remain bottom of the pile.
Wednesday are now without a win in six games since Pulis arrived in South Yorkshire and while there are some signs of improvement it is clearly going to be an uphill battle as both Sheffield clubs face fights against relegation from their respective divisions.
Pulis said: “First 20 minutes we were all over the place. That’s the worst 20 minutes I’ve had since coming here.
If you give them a 2-0 start it’s uphill all the way. We showed more commitment second half without showing any real quality.
I spoke to a lot of people before I took the job. I knew what I was getting myself in for. It’s a massive club, but it’s going to be tough.”
The always busy Christmas period will be vital to Wednesday’s survival battle with games coming thick and fast. In the immediate future, they face another Yorkshire derby at home to Barnsley on Saturday before a trip to fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest next Tuesday.