Match report: Leicester City 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1

Owls matchwinner Connor Wickham runs to the Wednesday bench to celebrate
Owls matchwinner Connor Wickham runs to the Wednesday bench to celebrate
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ABOUT one mile from the Leicester city-centre car park where the skeleton of Richard the Third was discovered, Wednesday unearthed a jewel of a result at the King Power Stadium.

You could even call it a right royal show by the Owls, considering they were away against a top-five side.

Connor Wickham put flesh on the bones of a battling display by the team with his almost majestic volley for the winning goal.

Wednesday proved that their impressive form of the Watford game four days earlier was no one-off as they tackled a tricky task with similar style and resolve.

It was a less exciting match on Saturday and the Owls did not quite hit the heights of their first half at Vicarage Road, but it was all a vast improvement on the November day when they were strictly second best to Leicester in a 2-0 Hillsborough defeat.

Maybe it was a good time to play Nigel Pearson’s side: after only one win in their previous six league games, the Foxes did look like a team who have lost their way a little.

But take nothing away from Wednesday: again they looked a useful outfit, well organised, solid when defending, dangerous going forward and capable of tactical variation.

A description of their system would have to depend on the point at which you froze the action: sometimes it was 4-5-1, sometimes 4-3-3, sometimes 4-1-2-3, but always, until second half substitutions, with Leroy Lita as the central striker, and Michail Antonio and Jeremy Helan the wider forwards.

David Prutton tended to be the deepest of the three midfield men, with Kieran Lee having a lively game and Danny Pugh looking just as at home in a more central role as he had been on the left flank and at left back, needed in his new position because Giles Coke was injured.

It was surely a gamble to play Reda Johnson, who not surprisingly lacked his usual zest but was defensively ok.

Jones said: “He’s done a fantastic job. We asked him to give us an hour. He’s only had two training sessions in six weeks. He’s such a fit lad, such a valuable part of us; from set plays, he’s an absolute menace.”

Wickham’s introduction in place of Johnson meant Helan going to left back, and the sub to the left side of the front three. A later change, when the Owls were in front, saw Lita make way for the defensive midfield qualities of Jose Semedo, Wickham and Antonio playing up front, Pugh at left back, Helan on the left side of midfield and Lee on the right.

Wickham’s omission from the starting line-up followed an accidental kick on his right foot in training on Friday.

Jones admitted: “It was a big decision whether I even used him. We sent him for an x-ray and feared the worst. He came back ok and it was just whether he could run through that pain barrier.

“He got up in the morning and said he was a bit tender but should be ok.

“I needed to flood midfield and get a grip of the game; that’s what the three lads did. I was always going to have to sacrifice one of the forwards. Leroy didn’t get on until the last 20 minutes at Watford and would have the fresher legs, so that’s what I went with.”

Wickham’s goal was his first senior one since he struck in a 2-2 draw for Sunderland in the FA Cup against Bolton two months ago.

Antonio headed on a fine ball ball by Lewis Buxton and the striker hit a left-foot volley of perfect power and accuracy.

The scorer stood with his arms aloft rather than run towards the 3,200 away fans who backed the Owls brilliantly all afternoon - “there were different class,” said Jones.

Wickham said: “I hadn’t scored in a while; I didn’t know what to do!

“I knew when the ball was coming down that I was going to take it first time; it was just getting it on target. I don’t think the there was much the keeper could do. He nearly stopped it, but it was just a bit too powerful.”

Jones made the point: “It wasn’t just about Connor. To come here and play well, make half chances and limit them to a long-ball game, in the end, is a credit to everybody.

“We stopped their midfield from getting a grip on the game; then we relied on the lads up front to give us directness and quickness; they did that; we had Kirky, and we needed the back four not to venture too far forward and to stifle the game; they did that.”

n Jones refused to rule Coke out of next Saturday’s home game against Cardiff. He has a foot injury.