ONE chance, one goal.
That was all Chris O’Grady needed to hand Sheffield Wednesday their second away win of the season.
There was a broad smile on the 26-year-old’s face as he walked into the press room to be grilled by the media and who could blame him?
The victory possibly saved Dave Jones’ job and pushed Keith Hill, O’Grady’s former boss, closer to the exit door.
The truth is the Owls have had very little to celebrate since arriving in the Championship so O’Grady’s sixth goal of the season could not have come at a better time.
It appears O’Grady elevates his game on the big occasions. He has got a happy knack of scoring in Yorkshire derbies. He found the net in both of the Steel City derbies and got on the scoresheet in the 4-4 thriller with Huddersfield Town last season.
“I like local derbies because you can do it for the fans,” he acknowledged. “They are the games that mean the most to them.”
It is hard not to like O’Grady. For sheer effort and endeavour, he takes some beating. You won’t ever see O’Grady dribble past two or three players or deliver a 45-yard crossfield pass. That is not his style.
He is a workhorse. A seven-out-of-10 performer. Managers always know what they are going to get with O’Grady. He tries to bully defenders with his upper-body strength and hold the ball up front until he gets support from his teammates.
It is not necessarily a glamorous role but somebody has to do it.
At Barnsley, O’Grady epitomised Wednesday’s work ethic as he never gave the hosts’ two centre-halves a moment’s peace.
Steve Foster, who was lucky to stay on the pitch after a mistimed challenge on Gary Madine, and Martin Cranie always knew he was around, snapping at their heels.
Lady Luck, for once, went the visitors way in the Sky-televised tea-time meeting, with referee Stuart Attwell not penalising Gary Madine for fouling Luke Steele in the build up to O’Grady’s winner.
“In the last couple of games, we have played well but we have conceded goals in the last 10 minutes,” said O’Grady. “With a bit more luck, we could have won last weekend and drawn at Cardiff.
“We were due a bit of luck because we have not had much recently. They say these things even themselves out but I don’t think we have had much. It was nice to get some today.”
O’Grady is an unselfish player. Jones has deployed him up up front on his own and asked him to play out wide for the sake of the team this season.
But O’Grady does not mope about playing out of position. He just quietly and effectively gets on with his business.
He said: “I have given as much as I possibly can (this season) and I am quite pleased. I have scored six more goals and played more games than I thought I would at the beginning of the season.
“I am determined to play and give everything when I am on the pitch to try and retain my place.”
O’Grady has previously worked with Hill before at Rochdale.
It is no secret Hill has tried to re-sign O’Grady a couple of times in 2012 and the £350,000 centre forward concedes he has come “quite close” to linking up again with him.
O’Grady, who has a year and a half left to run of his contract at Hillsborough, said it was a “bitter sweet” moment to score on Saturday night and he hopes Barnsley keep faith with Hill.
“I would definitely stick with him,” said O’Grady, who had gone nine matches without a goal. “It is quite surprising they are in that position because Ketih is a manager who has always got positive results.
“His teams have always gone above expectations. I’m sure that will happen this time around.
“This is a slight one-off in that they are under performing. He has always got results out of players and he got them out of me to get me here.”
Six goals in 20 appearances is hardly prolific. But if all Wednesday’s players worked as hard as O’Grady, they would not be fighting for survival.