Sheffield Wednesday had previously took 3 points off Newcastle on Boxing Day earlier in the season at St James’ Park. Wednesday did it again at Hillsborough. It was a brilliant performance from a Wednesday side that didn’t include main players like Forestieri, Hutchinson and Lee. The win meant that Wednesday stayed in sixth despite Fulham winning against Ipswich.
They almost made the perfect start too, coming within a lick of paint of scoring inside two minutes.
Daniel Pudil’s cross was only half cleared and the ball fell into the path of Gary Hooper, whose volleyed effort cannoned off the bar.
The contest settled into an even affair until the 15-minute mark when Wednesday went close again.
Bannan lobbed over the defence for Hooper who in turn teed up Fletcher but the Scot sliced just wide of the target.
Newcastle struggled to get their fluent passing game going and were dealt a blow on the half-hour mark when leading scorer Dwight Gayle was forced off through injury.
Ex-Owls loanee Daryl Murphy came on and had an instant impact, seeing a snapshot from the edge of the penalty area deflected inches wide.
Play soon reverted to type, though, and Fletcher smashed over a low Pudil feed as the hosts sought the breakthrough.
But right on the half time whistle, the Magpies went mightily close to taking the lead from an audacious piece of play by Shelvey.
The England international beat his man in the centre circle and little seemed on – save a stunning strike from all of 50 yards that looped over the back-pedalling Keiren Westwood and against the bar.
A goal for Newcastle would have been incredibly harsh on the Owls, who produced arguably their most impressive opening period of the season on home soil.
But the scoresheet was blank and Shelvey seemed the chief architect to engineer something for the Magpies.
The midfield man tested Westwood from distance before the keeper did well to parry a free kick from the same player to safety.
Ross Wallace delivered a telling set piece into the mix and Lees climbed the highest to nod accurately into the far corner.
Pudil delivered a long throw in the direction of Fletcher, whose glancing header fizzed up and over Darlow and into the Kop net.
Newcastle were forced upfield in the closing stages and Westwood continued to get the better of Shelvey, this time stopping a fierce hit from 25 yards.
Shelvey did have the final word, smashing home from six yards on 87 minutes, but it was not enough and Wednesday held on to record a well deserved win.
Sheffield Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal told BBC Radio Sheffield:
“We had a fantastic day as we’re playing against the best team in the competition with a high standard.
“I think we completely deserved the victory.
“We didn’t feel any kind of pressure, zero, as we look at us. Even if we didn’t win today we depend on us.
“We never talk about the teams near us, we are talking all the time to try and win the next game.”
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez said:
“It is very disappointing, we didn’t do what we had to today, we made too many mistakes.
“We gave them chances at the beginning. After we started the second half much better we had chances and were on top of them, then we gave a silly foul and gave a goal away from it.
“We didn’t manage the situation the way we have to. We had some chances at the end and their keeper was making saves.
“We have to wake up and be ready for the next game. We have five games to play and we are in a good position.”
Man of the Match: Steven Fletcher – Another outstanding performance from the Scottish striker. Got the winning goal for Wednesday and his hold up play was brilliant. It was what Wednesday needed to win the game
Wednesday: Westwood, Hunt, Loovens (Sasso 46), Lees, Pudil, Wallace (Semedo 72), Bannan, Jones, Reach, Fletcher, Hooper (Rhodes 58)
Unused Subs: Wildsmith, Winnall, Palmer, Forestieri
Newcastle: Darlow, Dummett, Lascelles, Anita, Gayle(Murphy 29), Ritchie(Mitrovic 78), Shelvey, Diame(Atsu 72), Perez, Mbemba, Gouffran
Unused Subs: Elliot, Haidara, Duarte, Ameobi
Referee: Stuart Attwell