Sheffield Wednesday match report: Owls 1 Rotherham United 0

Steven Fletcher's last-gasp penalty handed Sheffield Wednesday an early Christmas present as they beat neighbours Rotherham United 1-0.

Saturday, 17th December 2016, 4:10 pm
Updated Sunday, 18th December 2016, 12:14 pm
Sheffield Wednesday v Rotherham United

The striker made no mistake from 12 yards after ex-Owls defender Richard Wood had been adjudged to have brought down Lucas Joao. Wood was given his marching orders and centre-back Aymen Belaid was booked for his protests.

It was Wednesday's first home league victory over their South Yorkshire counterparts since 1981 and the three points lifted them back into the Championship's top-six.

Rotherham, under caretaker manager Paul Warne, will feel hard done by following a hard-working, committed display. They frustrated Wednesday for long periods and controversially had a goal ruled out in the first half.

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For our Owls news and opinion on twitter follow hereAs for the Owls, you could sense their relief at the final whistle as they claimed a third successive home win.

Head coach Carvalhal made one enforced change to his starting XI, handing Almen Abdi his first start in nearly two months. The Swiss international replaced Barry Bannan, who failed to shrug off a foot injury he sustained in Tuesday's victory over Barnsley.

It was Abdi's first outing since coming on as a substitute against Ipswich Town on November 5.

Rock-bottom Rotherham, without a win in 13 Championship away matches since April 9, included three former Owls players in their side: Lewis Price, Richard Wood and Joe Mattock.

It was all Wednesday in the early skirmishes and Lucas Joao, still searching for his first league goal, superbly chested down Abdi's corner only to scuff his shot and Rotherham cleared their lines.

The Owls, attacking the Kop end, dominated possession but there was little end product in the final third.

Sam Hutchinson's speculative ambitious 30-yard drive sailed harmless wide as Rotherham continued to defend manfully and in numbers.

The Millers sat back and invited the Owls on to them and Joao sliced over following a lovely cut back by Daniel Pudil.

Against the run of play, the visitors almost opened the scoring, with centre-back Wood inches away from heading in Joe Newell's lovely free-kick.

At the other end, Abdi, eager to prove a point after a lengthy spell out of the team, fired wide after good play by Joao.

Moments later, Abdi was taken off after suffering an injury and was replaced by Ross Wallace. It meant a tactical rejig as the hosts switched to a 4-4-2 formation, with Joao partnering Steven Fletcher up front.

It was far too predictable and laboured from Wednesday and it took them 40 minutes to register a shot on target, Joao's weak header was easily kept out by Price.

Rotherham, shorn of the services of forward Izzy Brown due to a hamstring knock, wasted a great opportunity to break the deadlock before the interval as Peter Odemwingie, recalled after serving his three-match ban, volleyed over at the near post after a clever flick by Danny Ward.

For more news from Hillsborough click hereJoao then snatched at a chance for Wednesday after being fed by Fletcher before Tom Adeyemi had a goal chalked off, with the Rotherham midfielder penalised for a foul following a peach of a delivery by Newell. TV replays suggested the Owls were lucky to get that decision go their way. Adeyemi bundled in the set piece but there was no obvious foul.

There were a few groans from the home faithful at half-time and Carvalhal made his second alteration, bringing on David Jones for Kieran Lee.

Adeyemi drilled a low left foot strike narrowly wide as Rotherham made a strong start to the second half.

Millers full-back Darnell Fisher came to their rescue in the 53rd minute, brilliantly hacking Joao's shot off the line after the Portuguese international was teed up by Wallace.

There was a scare for the Owls when Hutchinson went down and required treatment from the medical staff after trying to keep the ball in play. Hutchinson soldiered on and it was just as well as the hosts had made all their subs.

Price, who had an unhappy spell at S6, produced a smart stop down at his near post to prevent Mattock's header going in but there was no fluidity or urgency to Wednesday's football.

Try as they might, the opener would just not come for the Owls and Price denied Joao again before the Millers enjoyed a good spell of pressure.

Lee Frecklington's drive was deflected behind and then Anthony Forde curled over as the visitors pressed for an opener.

It looked like it was going to be one of those days for Wednesday when Fletcher's downward header went straight at Price but the Scotland international ultimately had the final word to send the home fans home happy.

Owls: Westwood; Palmer, Lees, Loovens, Pudil (Nuhiu 61); Lee (Jones HT), Abdi (Wallace 34), Hutchinson, Reach; Joao, Fletcher. Substitutes: Wildsmith, Sougou, Sasso, Hirst.

Rotherham: Price; Fisher, Wood, Belaid, Mattock; Forde, Adeyemi, Frecklington, Newell; Odemwingie (Blackstock 68); Ward. Substitutes: Bilboe, Kelly, Ball, Vaulks, Taylor, Yates.

Attendance: 27,242

Referee: Tim Robinson (West Sussex)