Sheffield Wednesday moved into the play-off places following a late win over managerless Rotherham United, registering their first home league win over the Millers since 1981 in the process.
Steven Fletcher’s late penalty secured all 3 points in what was for large periods a frustrating afternoon for The Owls.
The result sees Wednesday move into 6th place, while Rotherham’s misery continues and they remain 12 points from safety.
A relatively flat first half passed largely without incident. Although the home side were dominant, it was the visitors who enjoyed the best chances of the half.
The Championship’s bottom club had the ball in the net on the stroke of half-time from a Richard Wood header, but the goal was disallowed after the referee spotted a foul in the build-up.
Shortly before, Peter Odemwingie should have done better with a shooting opportunity after Glenn Loovens’ failed to clear. The former West Brom and Stoke City striker fired over from a good position, however.
Set pieces were providing Rotherham with their only real openings, and the liveliest moment of the half came on the half-hour mark when Millers defender Richard Wood just missed connecting with a whipped free-kick from Joe Newell.
The home side then went straight up the other end on the counter attack, which finished with Almen Abdi firing wide after some good hold-up play from Lucas Joao.
A tame header from Joao was perhaps the closest the hosts came to breaking the deadlock, but former Wednesday stopper Lewis Price in the Rotherham goal was equal to the effort.
Portuguese striker Joao was particularly guilty in the first period of not doing better with a string of half openings.
Wednesday, lying in 7th place at the start of play, will no doubt have been disappointed not to have created more chances against their opponents who themselves sat 12 points from safety at kick-off.
It was the visitors who started the second half strongest. Their quick tempo forced multiple corners in the opening few minutes and forced Wednesday to put bodies on the line to protect their goal.
As Wednesday found their feet, another good chance fell to Joao, but his effort was cleared off the line as the hosts cranked up the gears to try and find an opening.
Despite all his hard-work, 23-year-old Joao – who had only scored once this season before today – was experiencing just the kind of luck in front of goal you would expect from a striker out of form.
As the expectant home crowd grew increasingly frustrated, Lewis Price had to be alert on 65 minutes when a header from his own defender Joe Mattock nearly found its way into the bottom corner of the net. The Rotherham keeper pounced across his line to save his colleagues blushes.
On the whole, however, the visitors were more comfortably holding their own without being troubled.
In the final period of the game, a frustrated Sheffield Wednesday came close again when Steven Fletcher saw his header saved on the line. It lacked enough power and conviction to beat Price, who was having a far too comfortable time behind a defence who had shipped 47 league goals before today.
The Scottish striker missed an even better chance in the dying minutes when, unmarked, he again produced a weak header which wasn’t enough to trouble Price.
The 29-year-old made amends just moments later, however. The hard-working Lucas Joao was fouled in the penalty area, and the referee pointed to the spot. Millers defender Richard Wood was subsequently sent off for the foul which lead to the penalty.
Fletcher converted for his 7th goal of the season, meaning that Wednesday have now found the net in 19 of their 22 Championship fixtures this season.
Ross Wallace could have doubled The Owls’ lead at the last stroke, when he broke away, but the winger’s effort went wide.
The result was perhaps harsh on the visitors who defended well for large periods. They remain firmly rooted to the bottom of the Championship, while Wednesday move into the play-off places.
Sheffield Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal:
“I’m very happy with my players’ attitude.
“Justice was done at the end of the game. Rotherham fought a lot but we kept going.
“My players fought to the last second, as I like it, and that is why we achieved the three points.”
Rotherham United caretaker manager Paul Warne:
“My honest opinion is the penalty is a penalty.
“Would I be happy if my centre forward did that for me in the 93rd minute? Yes, I would.
“It was harsh on my lads. They’ve given everything. They were true warriors today.”