Gary Hooper grabbed his fourth goal of the season as Sheffield Wednesday edged past Queens Park Rangers at Hillbsorough.
Saturday’s victory was the Owls’ sixth in their last nine Championship matches and the result moved them up to fifth in the table.
Here are five things I learned from Saturday’s clash:
Carlos Carvalhal is cleverly managing his resources
His man management skills have really come to the fore in the last few matches. He is maximising his squad and getting the best out of them.
Carvalhal challenged Gary Hooper and Fernando Forestieri to step up their games after the international break and the duo immediately responded to his rallying cry, putting in outstanding performances in the victory at high-flying Huddersfield Town.
He sprung a surprise in South Wales by leaving Barry Bannan out of the match-day squad. Eyebrows were raised over his omission but the midfielder was recalled on Saturday and produced a man of the match display.
At the moment, Carvalhal can do no wrong.
Sam Hutchinson just gets better and better
Aside from a couple of sloppy passes, Hutchinson was solid, aggressive and made several important clearances.
His double tackle in the closing stages summed up his commitment to the cause. Hutchinson timed the challenges to perfection. If he had got either of them wrong, it could have been curtains.
Having been moved back into central defence last summer, you could have forgiven Hutchinson for needing some time adapt to the position but he has blossomed, forming an encouraging partnership with Tom Lees.
Gary Hooper is an under-rated striker
The forward is a proven performer at this level.
He’s not the type of player who will dribble past three or four defenders and create a chance for himself. He relies on good, quality service.
Hooper coolly fired Wednesday ahead five minutes before the interval after David Jones’ attempted strike dropped invitingly into his path. At no stage did he ever look like missing.
Speaking in today’s Star, Tom Lees said: “Hoops has been fantastic in the last few games. Sometimes I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves.
“He holds the ball up so well, is very strong and makes it difficult for the defenders.”
The fans continue to flock to Hillsborough
Another big turn-out cheered Wednesday on at S6. Attendances have yet to dip below 24,000 this season and the public are clearly enjoying and buying into what Carvalhal is trying to create.
There is an identity to the way the Owls play. Their brand of football is attractive, pleasing on the eye and, crucially, it is a style which is getting them results. Expectation levels have increased since last season but the Owls are embracing the challenge.
Wednesday have yet to blow anybody away
All seven of the Owls’ Championship wins have come by a one-goal margin. It is high time they gave a team a thrashing.
It is a big positive that lots of players are weighing in with goals and confidence is growing but, to keep sounding like a broken record, they have to be more clinical in the final third to push on.