Sheffield Wednesday boosted their play-off aspirations with an impressive 2-0 victory at Nottingham Forest.Goals either side of half-time from Kieran Lee and Chris Maguire ensured the Owls recorded a third successive Championship win and piled more pressure on under-fire Forest boss Stuart Pearce.It is Wednesday’s sixth victory on the road as they chalked up their 14th clean sheet in all competitions.
Gray recalled first-choice goalkeeper Keiren Westwood and Chris Maguire, leaving out Chris Kirkland and Jeremy Helan.
Lewis Baker, signed on a youth loan deal from Chelsea on Thursday, is named on the substitutes bench. Fellow midfielder Sam Hutchinson is named in the match-day squad after recovering from a knee injury.
Forest, looking for their first win in seven matches, have handed a full debut to Chelsea lonaee Todd Kane.
Owls youngster Matt Young, meanwhile, has today joined Carlisle on a one-month loan deal. The 20-year-old, who moved to Hillsborough on a one-year last summer, has yet to make a senior appearance for Wednesday. He will remain at Brunton Park until February 10.
Maghoma put Forest on the back foot with his pace and trickery in the early stages, curling a shot from just outside narrowly wide.
It took a wonderful challenge from Jamaal Lascelles to deny Maghoma a sight at goal in the eighth minute as Owls looked to pile on Forest’s agony.
The hosts, who have tasted just two victories from their last 19 matches, looked short on confidence and vulnerable defensively, with Jose Semedo dragging an effort well wide after good build up play.
Wednesday failed to make their early pressure count and Chris Burke sent a rasping volley over the top to remind they they could ill-afford to switch off at the back.
Many Owls fans joined in a round of applause in the 17th minute in tribute to Josh Vaughan, who passed away at Chapeltown railway station on Wednesday. Josh, aged 17, was struck by a train at 9.15pm.
As the half wore on, Forest started to move through the gears and Robert Tesche slipped in top-scorer Britt Assombalonga, whose fierce drive was expertly blocked by Tom Lees.
The visitors keep giving the ball away cheaply and Forest nearly capitalised just before the half hour mark only for Tesche to miss the target at the back post following a dangerous corner by Ben Osborn.
Westwood, back in Wednesday’s side after recovering from a calf strain, produced a stunning save to keep out Tesche’s close range strike after Gray’s side had again not managed to deal with an Osborn corner.
It looked destined to go in all square at the interval but Owls broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time when Kieran Lee scrambled the ball in from close range after Atdhe Nuhiu’s header was cleared off the line by Tesche.
Things got even better for Wednesday five minutes after the re-start when Maguire doubled their lead, drilling in an unstoppable left foot shot past Dorus De Vries.
Moments later, Stevie May beat the off-side trap and tried to lift the ball over the advancing De Vries but the big shot-stopper foiled the Scotland international and kept out Maguire’s follow up.
That second goal knocked the stuffing out of Forest as Nuhiu and May both failed to scramble in Maghoma’s corner after more Owls pressure.
But it was not all one way traffic and Westwood was forced into makin an acrobatic save in the 56th minute to push Antonio’s looping header to safety.
Maghoma, a great attacking outlet throughout for Owls, exchanged passes with May before waltzing his way into the area only to see his goal-bound effort blocked by Lascelles.
From the resulting corner, Nuhiu’s glancing header was cleared from near the goalline by Osborn to prevent Wednesday from grabbing a deserved third.
Try as he might, Nuhiu could not get on the score-sheet, blasting a venemous volley inchese wide after a lovely cross by Dielna.
Forest had a decent penalty claim waved away in the 63rd minute when Assombalonga appeared to be bundled over by Dielna but referee Andy D’Urso was not interested.
Pearce’s men came agonisingly close to reducing their arrears late on when Osborn whipped in a great cross from the left but substitute Lars Veldwijk, sliding in at the back post, could not turn the ball in.
In the closing stages, Westwood was alert to tip over a stinging shot from Jamie Paterson in the closing stages before Nuhiu some how failed to convert Caolan Lavery’s centre from inside the six yard box.
Forest: de Vries, Kane, Hobbs, Lascelles, Lichaj, Burke, Osborn, Vaughan, Tesche, Antonio, Assombalonga. Substitutes: Darlow, Veldwijk, Laing, Paterson, Gardner, McLaughlin, Burke.
Wednesday: Westwood; Palmer, Loovens, Lees, Dielna; Maguire, Semedo, Lee, Maghoma; Nuhiu, May. Substitutes: Kirkland, Mattock, Hutchinson, Lavery, Helan, Baker, De Havilland.