MARLON Harewood did his best to stake a claim for a Wednesday contract by hitting a hat-trick at Kilmarnock - the trialist striker’s first goals for the club.
His goals came in the 20th, 87th and 89th minutes and his front-line partner Chris O’Grady made it 2-0 in a clash that was largely bossed by the Owls against Scottish Premier League opposition.
Wednesday boss Dave Jones made broad use of his squad while fielding only two of the players who started last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with West Brom: Lewis Buxton and Harewood. Harewood, given yet another chance to impress, was played in by O’Grady for the Owls’ first chance and ran the ball out for a goal kick.
But when O’Grady provided another through ball, Harewood drilled a right-foot shot into the keeper’s bottom right-hand corner from 12 yards.
Wednesday had survived a couple of early shots yet were controlling the game as it wore on.
There was no lack of effort from an Owls mixture comprising players who just needed games because they had not played in recent ones, or were striving to earn contracts, or in the shop window, or hoping to win senior places.
Buxton had the second outing of his comeback after injury, this time at centre half.
The three newest trialists, Gill Swerts at right back and Marek Jarolim and Gorka Larrea in central midfield, had tidy games though none was used for 90 minutes. Swerts, a 30-year-old Belgium international from Feyenoord, played only for the first half but showed one electric burst of pace to deliver a cross.
The 339 Wednesday fans in the 2,064 crowd lifted the atmosphere briefly by singing Michail Antonio’s name after spotting the new signing - one of the subs - doing a bit of running on the touchline.
Stephen Bywater - kept out of recent games by Chris Kirkland - made an easy save from a long-range shot by midfieler Liam Kelly. O’Grady showed how it should be done when he smashed a half-volley into the roof of the net from eight yards after a lovely left-wing cross by David Prutton just before half time.
Wednesday took off Joe Mattock and Swerts at half time, sent on Antonio to the right wing, switched Prutton from right-side midfield to right back, and brought on Kieran Lee at left back. Sub Rory McKenzie roused the home crowd with a firm shot that was well blocked by Bywater.
On 54 minutes, Lee Johnson embarrassed Bywater with an effort that went through a crowd of players and through the legs of the keeper, with Manual Pascali making sure on the line.
A Jarolim corner was then headed at the keeper by Harewood. Kilie’s Gary Harkins weaved his way through the Wednesday defence but scuffed the ball wide.
Owls sub Diogo Amado tested sub Kyle Letheren from 30 yards, then the keeper denied Giles Coke, O’Grady and Harewood in quick succession, then Harewood again.
But the striker had the final say, ramming a shot into the bottom corner then two minutes later finishing off an O’Grady pass.
OWLS: Bywater, Swerts (Lee ht), Buxton, Beevers, Mattock (Antonio ht), Prutton, Jarolim (Coke 72), Larrea (Amado 72), M Jones, O’Grady, Harewood. Unused sub: Dawson.
KILMARNOCK: Bell, Tesselaar, Fowler, O’Leary, Nelson, Kelly, Dayton, Perez, Boulding, Pascal, Kennedy. Subs: Letheren, Racchi, Gros, Harkins, Johnson, Fisher, McKeown, McKenzie, Pursehouse.
Ref: Calum Murray (Scotland).
Goals: Harewood (20, 87, 89), O’Grady (43) for Wednesday; Pascali (54) for Kilmarnock.