Alfreton Town 0 Sheffield Wednesday 5: Oh what a night as two-goal Rhodes is rushed to hospital where his wife is in labour
It was one heck of a return to action to action for Jordan Rhodes.
The prolific striker claimed a classy first half double as Sheffield Wednesday brushed aside non league Alfreton Town in their opening pre-season friendly.
Rhodes looked sharp and keen to prove a point before his evening was cut short after receiving a cut to his face.
As he left the field, the Owls’ £8m record-signing learned his wife Emma had gone into labour and he left the ground before half-time with his dad Andy.
Second half strikes by Atdhe Nuhiu, Adam Reach and Connor O’Grady added extra gloss to the final scoreline as Wednesday kicked off their pre-season programme on a positive note.
Goalkeepers Joe Wildsmith, Cameron Dawson and Dan Wallis enjoyed quiet evenings as the Owls dominated their National League North counterparts.
It was a good work out and underlined the strength in depth in Wednesday’s squad. Ross Wallace, Steven Fletcher and Fernando Forestieri were not involved due to minor niggles while Keiren Westwood, Glenn Loovens, Sam Hutchinson, Kieran Lee also sat-out the friendly.
The fixture, which also served as a testimonial match to Alfreton’s longest-serving management team Nicky Law and Russ O’Neill, was the Owls’ first outing since losing in the Championship play-offs 55 days ago.
There was a lovely moment before kick-off when Law and O’Neill received a guard of honour from both teams.
The visitors made a slow start. Carvalhal’s side looked a tad rusty in possession and Alfreton, who played Nottingham Forest’s Under-23s last weekend, created the first opportunity but former Chesterfield striker Craig Westcarr dragged his shot wide when well-placed.
As expected, the Owls handed a first start to George Boyd and the new signing was bright and busy, firing wide from just outside the penalty area.
It took a brilliant block by Billy Priestley to prevent Boyd from forcing Mason Springthorpe into action, with David Jones seeing his follow up go over as Wednesday upped the ante.
Rhodes, making his first appearance since joining the Owls on a permanent basis, opened the scoring midway through the half. He raced on to Sam Winnall’s fine pass and scored at the second attempt.
Rhodes then notched his second in as many minutes, deftly heading in Liam Palmer’s teasing delivery.
It was Rhodes’ last major contribution as the striker was brought off as a precautionary measure.
Oozing confidence and quality, Wednesday pressed for a third and Springthorpe pulled of a great save at his near post to tip over Palmer’s rasping drive after run and cross by Morgan Fox.
It continued to be one-way affair and Winnall lashed over when he should have at least tested the agility of Springthorpe.
A string of changes at half-time disrupted Wednesday’s tempo and rhythm.
To their credit, Alfreton kept battling and Westcarr’s free-kick was comfortably kept out by Dawson, who recently signed a new three-year contract.
Some of the Owls’ approach play was slick and easy on the eye and Reach was desperately unlucky not to extend their advantage in the 53rd minute. His left foot piledriver struck the crossbar.
The gulf in class told and Nuhiu bagged the third after a lovely move on the left flank. Reach picked out the overlapping Fox, who was a good outlet throughout, and the full-back’s cut back was side-footed in by Nuhiu.
Reach impressed following his introduction and deservedly got on the score-sheet, drilling in in an unstoppable 25-yard strike past Springthorpe after a quickly taken free-kick.
Wednesday continued to pour forward in numbers and hit the post twice in quick succession through Reach and Nuhiu before defender O’Grady netted a late fifth.
ALFRETON: Springthorpe; Topliss, Allan, Platt (Evans 83), Shiels (Morrison 58), Priestley (McGowan 27), Marshall (Brought 83), Disley (Robertson 58), Westcarr (Snodin 58), Sharp (Nyoni 58), Jennings (Johnson 43). Substitutes: Morrison, Cox, Evans.
WEDNESDAY: Wildsmith (Dawson HT, Wallis 84); Palmer (Hunt HT), Lees (O’Grady 76), Pudil (Thorniley 74), Fox (Penney 69); Boyd (Hooper HT), Jones (Clare 74), Bannan (Murphy 69), Matias (Reach HT); Winnall (Nuhiu HT), Rhodes (Joao 31). Substitutes: O’Grady.
star man: Adam Reach.