Sheffield Wednesday: Five things we learned from the Owls' 2-1 win at Aston Villa
Sheffield Wednesday's triumph at Villa Park moved them to within two points of the Championship play-off places. Here's a selection of talking points from a memorable Owls afternoon.
Steven Fletcher is worth a starting role
Striker Fletcher scored his second goal in two games but, in a strange kind of way, it was the goals he didn't get at Villa Park which provedÂ his worth to Sheffield Wednesday. He was unlucky a spectacular overhead kick early on went just wide, but then should have done better with a flurry of chances just before he headed home Joey Pelupessy's cross. Having gone all season without scoring until last week's late striker at Nottingham Forest, it would have been easy for Fletcher to let his head drop as his Aston Villa misses mounted. But he didn't. His performance deserved a goal and the fact he was in the right place for his other opportunities speaks volumes about his positional play and football intelligence. He should now be in front of Atdhe Nuhiu in the queue for places.
Wednesday have a bit of character
The pressure came on when Villa scored a wonder-equaliser in the second halfÂ and then went for the jugular. The Owls held firm before responding with an amazing passage of attacking play during which they were creating chances at the rate of one a minute until Fletcher stepped up to bag the winner. Against promotion favourites in front of a hostile crowd, they showed no signs of folding.
Adam Reach is a proper player
Marco Matias had a great game for Wednesday and Academy prospect Matt Penney gave yet more notice that he's one of the Championship's hottest talents (more on him later in the week), but it was Reach who did more than anybody to inspire the Owls. During that second-half purple patch, he set up Matias to score, played in Fletcher and Matias for clear-cut chances with deft touches and produced the cross of the match only for Fletcher to head wide. Forget about him defensively, but going forward he's aÂ creator in the Barry Bannan class. There's quality in his left foot, he sees and delivers a pass, isn't scared to pin back his ears and take on an opponent and he makes right decisions. On form, nine times out of 10 when he's givenÂ the ball, he'll do something good with it.
Jos Luhukay is tougher than he appears
The Wednesday boss responded to the 2-1 defeat at Forest by making five changes and altering the formation for the Villa Park clash. Reputations count for nothing with him and he's not afraid to drop a player he's not happy with. Strike duo Nuhiu and Lucas Joao are likely to find themselves benched again against Leeds United on Friday. Don't let his quiet demeanour fool you. Hard decisions are easy ones for him. Not many people gave Wednesday a chance of victory when their team to face Villa was announced. Less than three hours later, the Owls had climbed three places to 10th in the table and Villa had dropped from seventh to 13th.
Joey Pelupessy can contribute something
The midfield man isn't everyone's favourite player. However, when he does the ugly things well, the Owls tend to prosper. His best displays this season, at home to Millwall and away to Reading and Villa, have all brought Wednesday victories. He has his off-days, but he adds balance to the side. Getting a foot in, mopping up and stopping danger don't win man-of-the-match awards. They do help win tight games. His test now is to do it more often.