SHEFFIELD Wednesday have marched towards the League One safety line at the double. Last night’s 4-0 victory against Tranmere means they have won two League games in a row for the first time in five months.
It takes them to 50 points and the brink of safety - they need one more to reach the tally that has been enough to keep a team up in each of the last five seasons.
The Owls swept into a commanding early lead and stayed in control. After two goals from captain Tommy Miller and one from Gary Madine inside the opening 22 minutes - with Neil Mellor playing a part in all three - there was not the slightest doubt that the team would build successfully on Saturday’s 2-1 win against Colchester.
The Owls started with one of best goals of the season, from Miller, and completed a rout with another cracker, from Mellor in stoppage time.
Their opener in the 10th minute was an end-to-end move, begun by a header by Reda Johnson out of the Kop-end box to Jermaine Johnson.
The left winger carried the ball forward and played it to Tommy Miller. The captain stroked a pass out to Gary Teale on the right. Teale crossed to the far corner of the six-yard area, where Mellor headed the ball back across goal for Miller to nod his ninth of the season from close range.
Four minutes later Wednesday cashed in on a Tranmere mistake. Mellor slipped a neat through ball to Madine, who definitely was onside at the moment the ball was played.
Madine ran down the inside channel, looked up and calmly stroked a shot into far bottom corner.
It was a demonstration of confidence from the centre forward who was described by Gary Megson on Saturday as a “disappointed bunny” because he had not been scoring goals lately.
Last night from the outset Rovers were second best - and the Owls strode into a three-goal lead in the 22nd minute.
Jermaine Johnson flicked the ball forward to Mellor, who was clumsily brought down by right back Michael Kay on the right side of the box.
Mellor had been denied a just penalty claim after his two goals on Saturday when he said he would have taken the spot kick.
He grabbed the ball last night clearly intending to add another goal to his total of 16. But skipper Miller, a previous holder of the job, had words and took over, placing the ball on the spot and then slotting his kick into Tony Warner’s bottom left hand corner.
Wednesday were so much in control that the rest of the half was comfortable for them and there was little for the crowd to get excited about. Megson was no less animated than usual, however, as he urged his team on. The visitors made a change in the 39th minute, replacing striker Dale Jennings with Adam McGurk, to a chant of “you don’t know what you’re doing” from their tiny following.
In the last few moments of the half the Owls had their first escape, after giving the ball away. Their former loan striker Enoch Showunmi, a scorer in the 3-0 beating of Megson’s men in February, homed in on a shooting position in the box but was blocked by a challenge from Danny Batth. It seemed safe to assume at half time that Megson would be telling his team not to keep their foot off the gas. They came out to press quickly for a fourth goal.
Reda Johnson directed a Teale corner to Danny Batth and his powerful header was blocked in the goalmouth.
A cross by Jon Otsemobor brought a headed flick by Madine towards the far top corner and a catch by Warner.
But it was almost inevitable that the visitors would have a go - in much the same way that Wednesday did when they were trailing to Peterborough and it was too late.
The Owls repelled Rovers with competent defending but a scramble resulted in a chance, McGurk driving the ball high over the bar as Batth closed him down.
However there was no sign of Wednesday releasing their grip. When Megson made a double substitution in the 64th minute, it looked like case of game time for Joey O’Brien and Chris Sedgwick rather than a slight on Miller and Teale, who each received an ovation from the crowd.
Clinton Morrison had a run-out, coming on for the similarly appreciated Madine, and Jermaine Johnson stung the keepers’ fingers with a 25-yard effort.
Richard O’Donnell again did his bit for Wednesday with an excellent stop from a near-post touch by McGruk in the 88th minute.
Mellor rounded off a happy night by scoring from a seemingly impossible angle in the second minute of stoppage time.
He ran out to the right to beat Warner in a chase to the ball and then hooked a shot inside the far post for his 17th goal of the season.
*Another boost for the Owls yesterday was Nicky Weaver’s signing of a new two-year contract.
Currently out with a groin injury, the keeper was on a one-year deal that was due to run out this summer but has been rewarded for consistent form.