Wednesday ended the regular season with a 2-1 home defeat to Fulham.
This loss ended Wednesday’s previous six game winning and seven games unbeaten streaks.
With the result meaning very little to the league table, Carlos Carvalhal named a changed squad – only Kieran Lee started from the team who won at Ipswich Town.
The Owls started the most positive and some good football between Kieran Lee and Marco Matias, making just his second appearance of the campaign, ended in a free kick to the hosts out wide. Although, this didn’t lead to a goal, it took just another two minutes for Wednesday to find it.
The ball deflected off the referee and it fell kindly to Lee who played through Sam Winnall who finished superbly into the bottom corner. The January signing then ran over to the North Stand and patted the badge on his shirt, showing where his loyalties lie.
Eleven minutes later, Wednesday nearly had two. Liam Palmer played a beautiful ball over the top for Jordan Rhodes who beat the offside trap but couldn’t end his eleven match goal drought as Marcus Bettinelli raced off his line and claimed the ball.
However, on the twenty-five minute mark, Fulham equalised. Denis Odoi crossed into the box where the ball found Neeskens Kebano who finished calmly past Joe Wildsmith in the Wednesday goal.
Just after the half hour mark, Tom Cairney’s free kick deflected behind for a corner. This resulting in Chris Martin climbing highest and heading agonisingly wide.
These were a good few moments for the visitors. Lucas Piazon struck wide of the post at the Kop end.
However, on the stroke of half time, Marco Matias went flying recklessly into Sone Aluko from behind and was given a straight red card.
HT: Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Fulham.
Mirroring the end of the first half, the second was dominated by the Londoners. Kebano played through Martin who missed the target but the flag had been raised for offside.
A couple of minutes later, José Semedo’s clearance rebounded and fell to Scott Malone whose shot cannoned off the crossbar from close range.
Malone had another chance shortly after but Wildsmith saved the effort who wasn’t needed five minutes later as Sam Hutchinson blocked Cairney’s shot and Kebano blasted wide.
The first sniff of a chance from Wednesday in the second half came from Rhodes battling well to win an aerial duel and then winning a free kick from Tomáš Kalas’ foul. The set piece unfortunately ended in nothing.
Wednesday’s first substitution saw Will Buckley replace Lee, who is likely being saved for the play-off clash against Huddersfield Town.
Fulham got back on the front foot as Floyd Ayité’s shot flew wide after an outstanding block from Morgan Fox. Piazon then fired his luck from range but his effort deflected over for another Fulham corner.
Vincent Sasso then received the ball low from Hutchinson but the Frenchman hit his shot straight at Bettinelli.
Hutchinson was then replaced by Urby Emanuelson who made his first Owls appearance despite joining the club in September last year. Rhodes was then replaced by Atdhe Nuhiu four minutes later.
Kebano then nodded home from a free kick eleven minutes from time as the officials came to the conclusion the ball had crossed the line. Immediately after the kick off, it was almost three but Piazon’s shot was wide of the target.
Joe Wildsmith then sensationally denied Kebano a hat trick as he tipped the Congolese international’s shot onto the cross bar.
FT: Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 Fulham.
“I am happy with the way they fought at the end. This game was not important in the score line, it was important to give my players time ahead of the play-offs.
“It is our priority to try and protect players in terms of injuries and red cards for the play-offs – that is a priority. I would be a very stupid person to lose three or four players in a game that doesn’t matter and not have them for the play-off semi-final.
“We will be ready, we had a fantastic season, we achieved with a good set of results – this is most important to us and now we are ready”.
Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic:
“We won the game, we finished the regular season very well. I must be satisfied.
“I am satisfied with the result and because no-one is injured after the game so we have a clear situation in front of us.
“We have a tough game against Reading. They are the favourites – they finished behind the two automatically promoted teams”.
Man of the Match – Kieran Lee: It was a generally poor performance from the Owls but Kieran Lee was a bright spark and assisted Winnall for the goal. He also included a cheeky piece of skill!
Wednesday: Wildsmith, Palmer, Sasso, Semedo, Fox, Lee (Buckley 61), Hutchinson (Emanuelson 74), Jones, Matias, Rhodes (Nuhiu 77), Winnall.
Unused subs: Reach, Dawson, Hunt, Bannan.
Fulham: Bettinelli, Odoi, Kalas (Fredericks 69), Ream, Malone, McDonald, Cairney (Parker 78), Aluko (Ayité 61), Piazon, Kebano, Martin.
Unused subs: Cyriac, Johansen, Button, Sessegnon.