In-form striker Atdhe Nuhiu grabbed his fourth goal in six matches as Sheffield Wednesday claimed a hard-fought victory at Premier League new boys Burnley last night.
The 25-year-old, a second half replacement for Chris Maguire, slotted in a 78th minute penalty after Jason Shackell clumsily brought down Jeremy Helan. It was Nuhiu’s eigthth goal in his last 11 Owls appearances
The result stretched the Owls’ unbeaten run to six matches, sealing their best start to a season since 1990.
Wednesday have not lost on their last nine visits to the Lancashire club. You have to go back to 2000 for the last time the Owls tasted defeat at Burnley.
It was a notable victory for Stuart Gray’s men as it is the first time in 13 years Wednesday have clinched an away cup win over top flight opposition.
In condemning Burnley to their third straight loss, the Owls recorded their fourth shut-out of the campaign as they sealed their place in the third round of the Capital One Cup.
Owls boss Gray, who left his post as first-team coach at Burnley in the summer of 2011, made four changes from the side which won at Middlesbrough on Saturday. Keiren Westwood, who will be on international duty with the Republic of Ireland squad next week, skipper Glenn Loovens, Stevie May and Nuhiu dropped to the bench. In came Chris Kirkland, Kamil Zayatte, Helan and Gary Madine. All the quartet impressed and staked their claims to start when the club welcome Nottingham Forest to Hillsborough on Saturday.
With Dutchman Loovens just a booking away from triggering an automatic one-match suspension, it was hardly a surprise Gray decided to leave him out of the starting line-up.
Sam Hutchinson was left out of the squad as the midfielder still has not recovered from the back problem he sustained against Millwall. He could return to action in the televised encounter with Forest. Kieran Lee, Lewis Buxton and Caolan Lavery also remain on the sidelines.
Burnley missed a glorious opportunity to open the scoring in the second minute when Ross Wallace delivered a lovely cross towards the back post which found Michael Kightly completely unmarked. However, the winger fluffed his volley and Kirkland, wearing the captain’s armband in the absence of Loovens, gathered his strike comfortably.
Wednesday, in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Jose Semedo sitting in front of the back four, came close to breaking the deadlock in the eighth minute as Madine rose highest to meet Chris Maguire’s corner but he directed his firm header over the top.
The hosts, who have lost their two opening league fixtures in the Premier League, continued to threaten the left hand side of Wednesday’s defence, with Wallace drilling a low left foot shot straight at Kirkland after a neat lay-off by Kieran Trippier.
With Madine holding the ball up intelligently up front, Burnley didn’t have things all their own way. Big centre-back Kevin Long tried to cut out Liam Palmer’s dangerous centre and his attempted clearance hit the crossbar and went out for a corner.
Midway through the half, Burnley enjoyed a good spell with Wallace, a constant threat, lifting a 25-yard free kick narrowly over after a clumsy foul by Helan on Kightly. Moments later, Wallace whipped in a delightful cross which Ashley Barnes headed agonisingly off target.
Helan, at every available opportunity, looked to support lone striker Madine, The Frenchman shrugged off the attentions of Long and burst into the penalty area at pace but his effort was weak and Matthew Gilks, making his debut, was equal to it.
Maguire, on target in the 1-1 draw at Burnley last January, was cautioned three minutes before the interval after a late tackle on Kightly after Liam Palmer gave the ball away cheaply just inside his own half.
The Clarets, without the injured Sam Vokes, who scored in both fixtures against Wednesday last season, created the first chance of note after the re-start as Barnes linked up with Kightly before firing at Kirkland.
Sean Dyche’s side continued to threaten and Marvin Sordell turned sharply after receiving a clever pass from Scott Arfield and drilled inches over.
Things started to open up and Sordell’s deflected drive forced Kirkland into a smart stop before Maguire flashed a dipping half volley off target after Burnley only partially cleared a Maghoma corner.
Growing in belief and confidence, Wednesday began to commit more bodies forward and Helan floated in an inviting cross which picked out Madine, whose downward header lacked power and accuracy as Gilks easily gathered.
Maguire jinked his way into the box on the hour mark after good play on the right by Palmer only to drill a fierce shot into the side-netting.
More gaps started to appear in both defences, with Burnley substitute Matt Taylor sidefooting just wide after the visitors struggled to clear
Gray threw on forwards May and Nuhiu to increase Wednesday’s attacking options. With regular penalty taker Maguire having gone off, it was left to Nuhiu to do the business from 12 yards and he fired his spot-kick down the middle.
Burnley lacked a cutting edge and substitute Danny Ings blazed over as Wednesday held on to for a third successive away victory.
Burnley: Gilks; Trippier, Long, Shackell, Ward; Kightly (Ings 83), Jones (Taylor 60), Arfield, Wallace; Sordell (Jutkiewicz 82), Barnes. Substitutes: Heaton, Duff, Reid, Mee.
Wednesday: Kirkland; Palmer, Lees, Zayatte, Mattock; Maguire (Nuhiu 72), Coke, Semedo, Maghoma (May 62), Helan; Madine. Substitutes: Westwood, Loovens, McCabe, Corry, Floro.
Bookings: Maguire 43 (foul), Coke 70 (foul.
Goal: Nuhiu 78 (penalty).
referee: Geoff Eltringham (Co Durham).