Owls Retro: This week in 2001 - Aston Villa 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1, League Cup

Efan Ekoku celebrates the match winning goal.
Efan Ekoku celebrates the match winning goal.
0
Have your say

When Sheffield Wednesday were paired with Aston Villa in the last 16 of the League Cup in 2001, the odds appeared to be firmly on the side of the top-flight club.

Come the week of the match and Villa were fourth in the Premiership, just a point off leaders Liverpool, while the Owls were hovering above the relegation zone in Division One.

Sheffield Wednesday's goalkeeper Kevin Pressman celebrates with goalscorer Efan Ekoku (9) and Trond Soltvedt (6) after defeating Aston Villa 1-0 during the Worthington Cup, fourth round game between Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday at Villa Park

Sheffield Wednesday's goalkeeper Kevin Pressman celebrates with goalscorer Efan Ekoku (9) and Trond Soltvedt (6) after defeating Aston Villa 1-0 during the Worthington Cup, fourth round game between Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday at Villa Park

Neither was stability in supply at Hillsborough, Terry Yorath having replaced Peter Shreeves on 17 October following a start to the season which saw them win just once in 13 league games prompting the manager to resign.

There was immediate improvement under Yorath with four victories and two draws in the eight games before the trip to Villa Park, including a 5-0 win over Stockport at Hillsborough in the final match prior to the last-16 match.

Efan Ekoku had scored the fifth goal that day having only just returned following a nine-week absence with a knee injury.

Yorath said before the game that Ekoku would be on the bench again although likely to play a greater role than his 24-minute stint against Stockport.

Owen Morrison beats Villa's Lee Hendrie

Owen Morrison beats Villa's Lee Hendrie

John Gregory was at the helm for Villa who had a £15million strikeforce in Juan Pablo Angel and Bosko Balaban with Darius Vassell on the bench.

It was to be a huge test for Wednesday, Yorath recognising the size of their task but insistent that they could cause an upset.

The Owls were organised and held their own for the first 20 minutes, the only threat coming when Balaban’s header from Steve Staunton’s cross was held by Kevin Pressman.

However, they were dealt a blow after less than half an hour when Alan Quinn badly hurt his shoulder, falling after a header. On came Ekoku with Simon Donnelly moving to Quinn’s right midfield slot.

Derek Geary and Leigh Bromby at full-time

Derek Geary and Leigh Bromby at full-time

Villa looked to capitalise at once with Pressman grateful Dublin headed the ball straight at home at the far post.

The keeper had to be alert to stick out his left arm and avert danger after Leigh Bromby had deflected Mustapha Hadji’s header.

Wednesday had done little as an attacking force but they conjured a goal out of nowhere five minutes before the break.

Pressman’s kick down the middle was headed sideways by Villa defender Olof Mellberg, the ball finding Donnelly who volleyed forward.

Flying high! Owls Simon Donnelly

Flying high! Owls Simon Donnelly

Running through was Ekoku who volleyed the ball over Villa keeper Peter Schmeichel from just inside the area and into the roof of the net.

Alpay put a header wide in first-half injury time but as the game wore on, Wednesday grew in stature.

The hosts had almost all the possession but such was the Owls’ resolve that the home fans took to booing whenever their side put a pass or shot wide.

It was backs-to-the-wall stuff and they had two huge let-offs as Villa continued to press with Dublin the perpetrator both times, heading far-post chances down and wide from crosses by Steve Stone.

Alpay too missed a chance although far more difficult than Dublin’s.

The final whistle was greeted with a roar by 3,000 Wednesdayites who were saluted by the team.

Yorath beamed: “To come to a Premiership club and win is a great performance.

“Determination, blood and guts - that’s what got us through.”

READ MORE: FOR UP TO DATE OWLS NEWS, CLICK HERE