VIDEO: Match highlights of Sheffield Wednesday 1 QPR 0

Owls star man Barry Bannan. Pictures: Steve Ellis
Owls star man Barry Bannan. Pictures: Steve Ellis
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It has mainly been their promotion rivals who have received the plaudits and accolades so far this season.

But Sheffield Wednesday have quietly gone about their business and are steadily creeping up the Championship table.

In truth, boss Carlos Carvalhal would probably prefer his Owls side to carry on avoiding the spotlight. It suits last year’s play-off finalists more to keep flying under the radar.

Let people talk and big up Newcastle United, Brighton and Hove Albion, Huddersfield Town and Norwich City’s prospects of going up. Carvalhal loves nothing more than playing the underdog card and creating a siege mentality.

The fact is, things are all nicely falling into place and Gary Hooper’s 40th-minute strike helped them see off a compact, stubborn Queens Park Rangers outfit and move up to fifth in the standings.

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Cameron Dawson on his first Owls start

Cameron Dawson on his first Owls start

The margin of the victory could have been far greater had Wednesday brought their shooting boots. Their inability to kill off sides when on top in matches is still a puzzle which needs solving.

QPR gave as good as they got and Cameron Dawson, deputising in between the sticks for the injured Keiren Westwood, produced several excellent saves, including an outstanding reflex stop to deny R’s skipper Nedum Onuoha in the second half. Tom Lees also cleared the visiting dangerman Tjaronn Chery’s shot off the line in the closing stages.

However, it would have been a travesty had the Owls failed to pick up maximum points, having dominated the contest for long periods.

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Gary Hooper scores

Gary Hooper scores

BARRY BANNAN RAN THE SHOW

As expected, Carvalhal restored Barry Bannan to his midfield and the ex-Aston Villa trainee pulled the strings.

Having been left out of the matchday squad against Cardiff City, Bannan had a point to prove. The 26-year-old, one of four changes, always seemed hungry to get on the ball and put Wednesday on the front foot.

Carvalhal swapped Bannan and Kieran Lee around after the interval, moving Bannan from the right wing into the centre as he wanted to tighten their grip on proceedings. Would the tactical change diminish Bannan’s influence? No chance!

Wednesday celebrate

Wednesday celebrate

The Scotland international’s range of passing was superb and he created a number of chances for his teammates which should have been converted.

This was more like the Bannan we have grown accustomed to seeing. It was undeniably his best display this term.

Carvalhal said Bannan was “completely tired” after the international break so decided to rest him after his disappointing performance against Huddersfield. It was just the break Bannan needed to get himself going again and another good piece of man-management by Carvalhal.

KEEPER PROVES HIS WORTH

Bannan wasn’t the only individual who caught the eye. Academy graduate Dawson, making his first Owls start after Westwood was ruled out with a back problem, recovered well after a shaky opening. He denied Chery twice and his save to foil Onuoha was sensational.

Carvalhal said: “Cammy had a very good game. He made a couple of saves and is a boy who we gave confidence to.

Fernando Forestieri

Fernando Forestieri

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“It is similar to Joe Wildsmith last season who came in and played a lot of games at a young age.

“I have complete trust in all of our goalkeepers and sleep very easy no matter which one of them starts.”

Should Westwood miss Saturday’s trip to Derby County, Dawson appears a more than adequate replacement.

A GREAT THREE GAMES

As a relieved Carvalhal pointed out post-match, the Championship is a unique division.

“There is not a big difference between any of the teams,” he said. You could argue with Carvalhal on that point as some of the top sides do seem a lot better than the rest, but it is an unpredictable, unforgiving league. It is a marathon competition and nobody is running away with it.

Consistency is the key and Wednesday picked up seven points out of a possible nine from a week which Carvalhal had described as their “hardest” of the season due to the travel and busy schedule. They ended the period on a high note by beating QPR, who were on a five-match unbeaten streak. It is promotion form and the Owls are looking in good shape.

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