Sheffield Wednesday: Nuhiu’s work ethic earns praise from Owls chief

Stevie May celebrates his match winner and his second with Atdhe Nuhiu
Stevie May celebrates his match winner and his second with Atdhe Nuhiu
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Few people would grumble over Stevie May walking away with the man of the match bubbly following his goal-scoring exploits in Sheffield Wednesday’s victory over Wigan Athletic.

But Owls fans should not forget Atdhe Nuhiu’s contribution in only the side’s second Championship home win.

The 6ft 6ins striker played a key role in Wednesday’s leveller, deftly back heeling the ball into the path of May, who coolly slotted home from close range. Three Wigan defenders got sucked towards the ball and tried to close down Nuhiu, giving May the time and space to end his and the Owls’ goal drought at Hillsborough.

With an without the ball, Nuhiu was a nuisance, creating an environment in which May could flourish.

Stuart Gray, the Owls head coach, praised the 25-year-old’s hard-working performance.

“We defended from the front,” he said. “It was a good all round team performance.

“I thought Atay was very unfortunate not to get a goal or break but his overall presence was huge.

“He bullied the two centre-halves at times. His ball retention was good and he was a focal point to build off.”

With May and Nuhiu linking up effectively in the final third and Caolan Lavery back in the first-team picture, Gray was happy to let Coventry City extend Gary Madine’s loan deal until January 4. Whether the striker remains part of Gray’s long-term plans remains to be seen.

Sky Blues chief Stephen Pressley revealed after their goalless draw with Walsall he would like to sign Madine, who has scored twice in five appearances, on a permanent basis come the New Year.

“We have to insure that we bring Gary to this club and we will be working very hard to do that,” he said. “He’s settled in really well here and now his fitness levels are getting where they need to be you can tell what a prospect he is.

“In terms of linking the play and bringing other players into the game he’s so important to us – the focal point we’ve been looking for since we lost Leon Clarke.

“He led the line brilliantly against Walsall. He almost scored one goal out of nothing, he was unlucky on a couple of other occasions – particularly when Jim O’Brien put in a great cross but Matty Pennington just took it off his head – and he should definitely have had a penalty in the first half.”

Wednesday have inserted a 24 hour recall clause in the deal and Pressley fears Madine will go back to his parent club if he maintains his impressive form.

Pressley said: “That’s always the risk but we’ll live with that.”