Sheffield Wednesday match report: Nottingham Forest 2 Owls 1

For years, Wednesday have been something of a bogey team for Nottingham Forest.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 20th September 2018, 9:09 am
Updated Thursday, 20th September 2018, 9:17 am
Sheffield Wednesday's Adam Reach in action against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground last night....Pic Steve Ellis
Sheffield Wednesday's Adam Reach in action against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground last night....Pic Steve Ellis

In fact, the Owls entered the latest meeting between the two sleeping giants looking to record an eighth successive win.

But Forest had other ideas, ending that particular hoodoo after goals either side of half-time from Lewis Grabban and Joao Carvalho.

Sheffield Wednesday's Adam Reach in action against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground last night....Pic Steve Ellis

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Steven Fletcher stepped up off the bench to net his first goal in over a year to give Wednesday a lifeline in the 88th minute.

But Forest held on to secure their first win over the Owls since November 2012.

Defeat also brought to an end Wednesday's four-match unbeaten Championship run as Jos Luhukay's men missed the chance to move into the play-off placings.

Things could have been so different had Marco Matias headed the Owls into a 15th minute lead.

Sheffield Wednesday skipper Tom Lees beats Nottingham Forest's Ben Osborn....Pic Steve Ellis

But in truth, Luhukay's team were second best and outclassed for long periods. The final scoreline flattered them and they would have lost by more had Forest's finishing been better.

Midfielder Josh Onomah, handed his first Owls start since arriving on a season long-loan from Tottenham, made a slow start and was caught dithering in possession by Lewis Grabban after 15 seconds. Tom Lees partially cleared the striker's pull back but Matty Cash fired wildly over.

Wednesday responded immediately and Adam Reach tried his luck from long range with a stinging left foot effort but Costel Pantilimon was equal to it.

It was noticeable how deep the Owls were in the first half. Lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Wednesday looked intent on getting men behind the ball in an attempt to stifle Forest's flair players.

Sheffield Wednesday skipper Tom Lees clears his lines....Pic Steve Ellis

Unsurprisingly, Forest enjoyed the bulk of possession but Luhukay's men almost caught them out on the quarter of an hour mark. It was an incisive, free-flowing move involving Barry Bannan, Onomah and Morgan Fox. Left-back Fox, one of four changes, whipped in a superb cross which Marco Matias headed over. Matias rose unmarked and was no more than six yards out. It was a glorious chance to put Wednesday ahead.

Shortly after Matias's chance, Cameron Dawson was called into action. The Owls academy graduate was forced to push Matty Cash's cross turned shot behind for a corner at his near post.

Forest, who have signed 16 players this summer, caused Wednesday a few problems down their left wing with the pace and trickery of Saidy Janko and Cash. Midway through the half, Janko floated in a teasing delivery after a strong run but Joao Carvalhalho, their £13.2m club-record signing, volleyed over.

Wednesday's 2,000 plus travelling fans were celebrating in the 24th minute when Atdhe Nuhiu stooped to nod in Bannan's free-kick. However, the Kosovo international's header was disallowed for offside.

Sheffield Wednesday defender Ash Baker gets the ball beyond Nottingham Forest's Ben Osborn....Pic Steve Ellis

It looked like being another frustrating evening for Grabban when he steered Jack Robinson's centre inches off target as Forest continued to press for the opener.

But Grabban and Forest's perseverance paid off in the 41st minute. Onomah, who showed some nice touches, clumsily brought down the dangerous Cash near the Owls' penalty area. Grabban seized the opportunity to open his Forest account, rising highest to glance in Ben Osborn's superb free kick.

Grabban's strike had been coming and means Wednesday have still yet to keep a league clean sheet this season.

Too often the Owls' play was slow and predictable, allowing Forest to impose their high pressing game and force them into mistakes on the ball.

It took a fine piece of defending from Jack Robinson to prevent Nuhiu from latching on to Lees' hooked ball forward in the 55th minute as Wednesday briefly threatened to grab an equaliser.

Forest, the division's draw specialists, then upped the ante, with Dawson producing a good block to foil Osborn after Carvalho slipped in the hard-working midfielder.

The home side quickly recycled possession and Carvalho doubled Forest's advantage in style in the 63rd minute, curling in a stunning right foot shot into the top corner after a deft back heel by Osborn.

Little went right for the Owls on a miserable night, with Bannan's 25 yard free kick going straight into the arms of Pantilmon.

They tried to go the direct route in the final quarter of the contest, throwing on Steven Fletcher for the disappointing Joao.

To compound their woes, Jordan Thorniley, one of Wednesday's few plus points, was forced off after picking up a knock and replaced by Daniel Pudil.

Forest could have added a third when Carvalho turned sharply in penalty area but he drilled his effort straight at Dawson.

Fletcher's fortunate late goal gave Wednesday some hope but it proved too little too late.

Forest: Pantilimon; Janko, D Fox, Hefele, Robinson; Colback (Watson 81), Guedioura; Cash (Dias 72), Carvalho (Lolley 90), Osborn; Grabban. Subs: Steele, Goncalves, Dawson, Darikwa.

Owls: Dawson; Baker, Lees, Thorniley (Pudil 74), Fox; Bannan, Onomah; Matias, Reach, Joao (Fletcher 71); Nuhiu. Substitutes: Wildsmith, Pelupessy, Kirby, Hector, Preston.

Attendance: 26,252

Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland)

Star man: Tom Lees