Wednesday’s Under-18s cruised into the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup after a comprehensive, classy victory over Gillingham.
Goals either side of half-time by Fraser Preston (2) and Lewis Price secured the Owls’ fourth consecutive win in all competitions.
It is the first time the Owls have reached the fifth round stage of the prestigious tournament since 1999.
It was a scrappy opening, with both sides guilty of giving away possession cheaply. Gillingham created the first chance of note, full-back Finn O’Mara’s low drive from long range was comfortably gathered by Dan Wallis.
Out of nothing, the Owls broke the deadlock in the 25th minute, Price bundling the ball home inside the six-yard box after goalkeeper Will Sykes flapped at Joe West’s free-kick.
Moments later, Wednesday doubled their advantage. Ciaran Brennan and George Hirst linked up well to send Preston scampering clear and the winger lashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner.
Gillingham struggled to break down the Owls’ well-organised defence, who were superbly marshalled by Jack Lee. O’Mara’s whipped in a teasing cross which Leroy Hlabi failed to convert.
It proved a costly miss as Preston bagged his second 42 seconds into the second half. He showed excellent technique and composure to rifle a fierce left foot volley out of Sykes’ reach.
Gillingham were rattled and Hirst dragged well wide after latching on to Price’s neat pass.
But the visitors refused to give up and Wallis produced two smart stops to deny Darren Holdaker and Bradley Stevenson. But the evening belonged to Steven Haslam’s side, who turned on the style at Hillsborough.
The margin of Wednesday's victory could have been even greater but Preston was denied by the agility of Sykes before Connor Kirby drilled a shot narrowly wide.
Owls: Wallis; Brennan (Hughes 81), Cook, Lee, West; Kirby, Waldock (Williams 78), Price (Hunt 65); Lonchar, Preston, Hirst. Substitutes: Walker, Swaine.