VIDEO: Sheffield Wednesday's development squad thump Bolton Wanderers 4-1 to go top of the league
Sheffield Wednesday's development squad moved to the top of the Professional Development League North table with a comfortable 4-1 win over Bolton Wanderers at Middlewood Road this afternoon.
Goals from George Hirst, James Murphy, Vincent Sasso and Sean Clare ensured the Owls recorded a fourth straight win after efender Sam Lavelle gave the visitors an early lead.
Victory sees Wednesday go top on goal difference ahead of Hull City.
Boss Neil Thompson fielded a strong starting XI consisting of Joe Wildsmith, Sasso, Claude Dielna and Jose Semedo. It was Sasso’s and Semedo’s second run outs for the Under-23’s in as many games.
It was the visitors who started on the front foot and they broke the deadlock after seven minutes. The ball fell to Lavelle at the edge of the box and he smashed home a curling volley via the underside of the bar after the Owls failed to clear their lines.
But two minutes later, Wednesday almost responded. Matt Penney sent over a teasing cross from the left flank and Hirst headed towards goal only to be denied by an excellent save by Will Jaaskelainen, the son of former Bolton legend Jussi.
It proved to be the last of the goalmouth action for a while as both sides seemed pretty content to bide their time in the hope of fashioning an opening.
Jaaskelainen had to be on hand just past the halfway point of the first half as he did well to get down low and palm away Penney’s free-kick.
Owls right-back Ashley Baker almost handed the visitors a second 12 minutes later as he almost slid Ryan White’s low cross into his own net.
Moments later, the Owls were awarded a penalty when Fraser Preston was brought down by Wanderers right-back Callum Spooner. England Under-18 international Hirst dispatched the penalty straight down the middle in front of the on-looking Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal.
Just five minutes after the break, the Owls were awarded a second spot kick when Hirst was clipped by Michael Barrow.
The son of former Owls legend David once again took charge of the situation but saw his penalty saved by Jaaskelainen before Murphy tapped home the rebound.
The goal seemed to give the hosts a much-needed boost and Clare went close to making it three but he shot just wide of the target.
But a third goal for the Owls duly arrived when Sasso rose highest to head home Jack Stobbs’ corner via the bar just before the hour mark.
Bolton almost pulled a goal back after Hyunga Tanner curled an effort just wide of the post.
In the closing stage, Clare hit the near post as the Owls looked to add a fourth.
Stobbs was replaced by youngster Jordan Lonchar, who hit a hat-trick in the third round of the FA Youth Cup against Luton last month, before Jordan Thorniley replaced Preston with seven minutes to go.
The Owls wrapped up their come-from-behind victory late on, with Clare side-footing home from 10 yards out to complete the rout.
*Owls: Wildsmith; Baker, Sasso, Dielna, Penney; Stobbs (Lonchar 80’), Murphy (Kirby 62’), Semedo, Preston (Thorniley 83’); Clare, Hirst. Substitutes: Wallis, Betra.