Wednesday took another big step towards the Championship play-offs with a 2-1 victory against Derby County.
Derby had the first chance of the game however. Matej Vydra broke forward but shot wide. Wednesday then piled on the pressure – the ball was cleared as far as Kieran Lee who then hit it first time but also wide of the mark.
Ross Wallace then crossed into towards Adam Reach whose near post header was just past the post. Reach was then denied a penalty. Hunt’s cross deflected behind for a corner which found the winger who went down under a challenge but no penalty was given.
Six minutes later, another Hunt cross caused problems and the ball was only cleared as far as Bannan who, on the volley, hit his shot just wide. Once again, Hunt whipped in yet another cross, this time Fletcher connected with it but nodded over.
A quiet ten minutes came to an end when Ikechi Anya drilled a low attempt into the side netting.
Five minutes before the interval, the ball broke promisingly for Lee who knocked the ball out wide for Ross Wallace. The Scot pulled back the cross to Jack Hunt whose shot was blocked and cleared by the Rams’ defence.
The first half action came to an end with Chris Baird having an attempt but it was miles past the upright.
HT: Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Derby County.
The first goal came almost immediately after the interval. Derby won a corner and Darren Bent rose highest to nod in and give the visitors the lead.
However, the Owls almost equalised just two minutes later. Daniel Pudil whipped in the cross and Steven Fletcher headed only to see it cannon against the crossbar.
This half started intensely. Nine minutes in, Will Hughes rounded Keiren Westwood but his effort was cleared off the line by skipper Glenn Loovens.
Fifty-five minutes after his return from injury, Kieran Lee was substituted which saw Jordan Rhodes enter the match.
Just before the hour mark, Wallace’s delightful cross found Gary Hooper at the far post who nodded across goal and Fletcher dived in and headed home from a few yards out. Wednesday were level and looked like they could win the game.
Well, it only took six minutes for them to gain the lead. Reach put in a good cross and Fletcher challenged former Wednesday loanee Scott Carson in the air before the ball fell to Hooper who calmly finished into an open net.
With fourteen minutes to play, José Semedo was brought on for Hooper to help defend against the oncoming pressure from the visitors. A change in attack also saw Fernando Forestieri replace Fletcher.
Derby’s best chance came in the eighty-ninth minute. Baird hit a low volley but was denied by an absolutely world-class save from Keiren Westwood who somehow got a glove behind the certain goal.
Despite four minutes of injury time, Wednesday held on to win five games in a row for the first time in Carlos Carvalhal’s time at the club.
FT: Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Derby County.
“Our focus is on ourselves, we are not worrying about anybody else. We know what we have got to do, we knew what we had to do before the game today and we will continue to strive to hit our targets and not worry about what is going on elsewhere.
“Full focus will be on Ipswich next week. Nothing to do with Fulham [in their final game of the regular season], nothing to do with play-offs, no interest in that, it is only to do with Ipswich.
“As a unit and as a group, as we have been all season, the lads took it [the Derby goal] on the chin, rolled their sleeves up and showed a lot of quality for a period of 10 to 15 minutes to get the two goals. There is such a feel-good factor about the group, but the job is not done.”
Derby County boss Gary Rowett:
“I think when we got the goal we looked in control and I think that was the disappointing thing for me. We looked like we probably should have gone and got the second. Will Hughes breaks through and I don’t want to advocate it, but had he have fallen to the floor, I think he would have got a penalty.
“But he did the honest thing and stayed on his feet and probably suffered for it because he couldn’t quite get enough power on the shot, but at that point it looked like we were probably going to make it two.
“We just had a really stupid 10-minute spell. Two balls into the box that we didn’t deal with very well and that was it, really. We have to be smarter. When you have got the game and opposition on the rack, you have got to kill them off. You can’t let them back into the game.”
Man of the Match – Gary Hooper: The striker scored the winner – also his first since returning from injury- and helped link up attacks and assisted Fletcher for the equaliser.
Wednesday: Westwood; Hunt, Lees, Loovens, Pudil; Wallace, Lee (Rhodes 56), Bannan, Reach, Fletcher (Forestieri 81), Hooper (Semedo 77).
Unused subs: Wildsmith, McManaman, Sasso, Nuhiu.
Derby County: Carson; Christie, Keogh, Pearce, Olsson (Baird 10); Russell, Hughes (Ince 74), Johnson, Anya; Vydra, Bent (Nugent 61).
Unused subs: Bryson, Butterfield, Camara, Mitchell.