Sheffield Wednesday suffered a comprehensive home defeat tonight at the hands of Wigan Athletic.
Owls’ head coach Stuart Gray had reshuffled his pack for their Championship meeting with Wigan Athletic at Hillsborough tonight- but it all backfired.
Adedeji Oshilaja, on-loan from Cardiff City, made his debut, having been granted international clearance. His arrival allowed Jose Semedo to move back into central midfield. Gray also restored big striker Atdhe Nuhiu to the starting line-up. Jeremy Helan and Rhys McCabe dropped to the bench.
Early on, James McLean, one of three alterations made by Wigan, drifted inside in the sixth minute and picked out Ben Watson, who miscued wide.
Moments later, Miguel Llera decided to take a quick free from just inside his own half after spotting goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi off his line but his audacious effort drifted narrowly wide.
All the initial danger from Wigan was coming down the left flank through McLean. The Republic of Ireland international skipped past three defenders before firing straight at Chris Kirkland.
Benik Abobe, fresh from scoring his first goal for the Owls, latched on to Chris Maguire’s clever pass but, under pressure from Leon Barnett, he drilled his shot off target.
At a subdued Hillsborough, Nuhiu should have put the hosts ahead in the 26th minute after robbing Barnett of possession deep inside Wigan’s half. However, his left foot drive lacked power and accuracy and was comfortably saved by Al Habsi.
It proved a costly miss as the visitors opened the scoring on the half hour mark courtesy of Nicky Maynard, who rifled in a low right shot from distance after receiving Martyn Waghorn’s pass.
Semedo was then shown the first booking of the evening after a late challenge on Waghorn.
From the resulting free-kick, Kirkland was unable to keep it in play and conceded a corner. Waghorn’s 38th minute set-piece was touched in by Maynard as Wigan doubled their advantage.
Seven minutes after the re-start, Maynard spurned the opportunity to complete his hat-trick as he dragged a left foot shot wide after getting on the end of Waghorn’s free-kick.
Gray threw on Jeremy Helan and Michail Antonio at the expense of Benik Afobe and Jacques Maghoma to try and spark Wednesday into life. Helan almost made an immediate impact, forcing Al Habsi into an acrobatic save.
The Owls kept pressing and Miguel Llera, from close range, headed Jose Semedo’s teasing centre straight at Al Habsi.
Just after hour mark, Semedo was stretchered off after coming off worse in a challenge in midfield. After a six-minute stoppage, he was replaced by Caolan Lavery.
To compound Wednesday’s problems, Nuhiu, when well-placed, glanced Antonio’s cross wide.
With time running out, Lavery nodded wide after good interplay on the right flank between Chris Maguire and Liam Palmer.
Maguire stung the palms of Al Habsi in the 80th minute with a rasping long range piledriver which was eventually cleared away from the danger zone.
Wigan confirmed their superiority in added on time by scoring a third, with substitute Marc Antoine Fortune tapping home after Kirkland could only parry Maynard’s strike.
OWLS: Kirkland, Palmer, Llera, Oshilaja, Mattock, Maguire, Semedo, Lee, Maghoma, Nuhiu, Afobe.
Subs: Martinez, Antonio, McCabe, Helan, Corry, Lavery, McPhail.
LATICS: Al Habsi, Perch, Boyce, Barnett, Beausejour, Waghorn, McCann, Watson, McArthur, McClean, Maynard.
Subs: Nicholls, Crainey, Gomez, McManaman, Espinoza, Kieman, Fortune.
Ref: David Webb (Lancs).
Read Paul Thompson’s analysis in Wednesday’s Star.