It was a great game at Reading, and a great win for Sheffield Wednesday.
An incredible opening 10 minutes saw Wednesday go close to going two down, Reading centre half Alex Pearce sent off and Chris Maguire score with the Owls’ first penalty of the season.
Inside three minutes a long ball put Le Fondre through and his 14th goal of the season beckoned but captain Kirkland was out to smother at his feet.
Two minutes later it was Le Fondre’s strike partner Pogrebnyak, going through, and seemingly poised for his 10th of the season; he and Kirkland collided, the ball rolled towards the line and Llera cleared.
But a fine ball by Lee ended with an Afobe shot being deflected for a corner, and in the ninth minute the No 28 wriggled into the box and was heading for goal when he was brought down from behind by Pearce.
The ref deemed it was a goalscoring opportunity so produced the red card.
It was in the 10th minute when MAGUIRE slammed the spot kick low to McCarthy’s left while the keeper dived to his right. It was the Scot’s sixth goal in nine games.
Semedo was the right-side centre half, with Loovens still unfit and clearance not arriving in time for a debut for new loan signing Adedeji Oshilaja from Cardiff.
Maghoma, up front in a 4-4-2, clipped a chance wide from 20 yards.
Lee looked likely to make it 2-0 in the 24th minute from a better opportunity, provided by Maghoma: McAnuff blocked his well-struck shot.
Reading played 4-4-2 and committed men forward - making it a very open game, unlike last week’s dour affair against 10-man Barnsley.
Wednesday attacked with fluency and confidence. and Maguire was not far away with a typical drive, and there was a similar effort from Pogrebnyak as the Royals showed skill on the break.
At times it was hardly noticeable that Reading were a man down. But Wednesday dealt with balls around their box, and Semedo, who played centre half earlier in his career, made three sound clearances with headers.
After Maguire was involved in an incident with Obita on the touchline, home players got involved and Royals fans chanted “off, off”, Owls supporters at the far end must have feared that the ref might even things up numerically as he stepped in. But it was only a booking for the goalscorer.
Mr Hill stopped play when three players were injured: Akpan, Maghoma and McCabe. There were five minutes of stoppage time, in which Maguire sent Afobe scorching down the right and his shot clipped the bar, and a Maguire blast was saved. What a game this was.
Antonio replaced McCabe at half-time and should have made it 2-0 in the 46th minute, Maghoma broke down the left to play the ball low across the box and Antonio seemed to have the goal at his mercy but somehow McCarthy turned his effort wide. From the corner, Mattock’s kick reached the unmarked Maguire and he fired over the bar from 12 yards.
Maguire seemed to be knocked off the ball unfairly in a counter-attack, and there seemed to be no end to the incidents in this cracking contest. It was amazing that there had been further goals, but one came in the 57th minute, giving Wednesday a deservedly increased lead.
Antonio crossed from the right, Afobe flicked it on, Maguire cut inside, his right-foot shot came back off McCarthy, and AFOBE forced home the loose ball for his first goal for the club.
Helan, in a more central midfield position after McCabe’s exit, had a fine 25-yard strike touched on to a post by McCarthy. Maguire, pushing forward with Afobe, was thwarted by a McCarthy dive at his feet. Gorkss intercepted a goal-bound attempt by Antonio.
Gray took off Afobe in the 72nd minute but kept the team’s pace up to scratch by sending on Lavery. Nuhiu took over from Maguire with 12 minutes left and should have either scored or teed up a sitter for Antonio in the 80th minute: he shot past the far post from a narrow angle as his colleague waited in the middle.
Although the after-match attention was likely to centre on whether or not Pearce’s sending-off was correct, Wednesday had certainly taken full advantage and merited the points. Nuhiu’s shot was blocked by a post in the last minute when two team-mates were better placed, and Maghoma smacked a chance wide. This could have been a much bigger win, all told, as the unbeaten run was stretched to 11 games.