Owls FT: Rochdale 1 Sheffield Wednesday 2

Manager-in-waiting Stuart Gray
Manager-in-waiting Stuart Gray
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Sheffield Wednesday advanced into the fifth round of the FA Cup despite finishing the game with 10 men after Joe Mattock was sent off.

Wednesday took on Rochdale this afternoon without Connor Wickham as uncertainty about his future continued.

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet has said he faces a difficult decision over whether to let Wickham - unavailable for Owls ties in the FA Cup - extend his loan when it ends next Tuesday.

Poyet said: “I have spoken to him, but I probably need to speak to Stuart Gray at Wednesday to discuss things further. The bottom line is that Connor has done very well at Wednesday, very well. so there is a possibility that he could be coming back. We just have to see how the transfer window works out.”

The outcome could depend on whether Sunderland sign a striker before the January transfer window shuts on Friday.

One certainty is that Stuart Gray is the new Wednesday manager though uncompleted legal formalities relating to his contract meant the club did not make an official announcement before today.

Around 3,500 away fans filling one side of the stadium made it a lively atmosphere.

Centre half Eastham got away with only a booking for a fifth-minute trip on Maquire a foot outside the box when a chance beckoned after Semedo’s through ball. Nuhiu’s free kick was deflected by the wall, from a position where Wickham can be deadly.

With the Owls making the running, a deflected shot by Maguire became a pass to Lavery, who was in behind but lost his footing then was blocked when he got up and shot.

Maguire struck a free kick well from 25 yards but it flew straight into Lillis’ arms.

But Rochdale made a simple chance in the 18th minute, Wednesday failed to deal with a high ball as tall midfielder Vincenti headed across goal from the corner of the six-yard box.

Martinez made two tremendous saves, needlessly, because a free kick to Rochdale had rightly been given before one, and an offside flag was up before the other.

It was however, a sign of how the home team were making a game of it after a bright start by the Owls, who, against this tidy League Two team, were unable to dominate possession as they had done in the first half at Macclesfield.

A third, super stop from Martinez prevented a goal in the 35th minute,

Palmer, trying to find a team-mate, played the ball suicidally towards the centre of his own area; possession was lost, and the keeper had to block a low, close-range drive from Done.

A poor first touch by Lavery on a dropping ball into the box cost him an opportunity. In stoppage time an Onyewu header from a Maguire corner was deflected wide - a half-chance - and in the last of three added minutes came a great oppoortunity: Nuhiu put Maghoma through and he should have scorerd but Lillis somehow got a touch andf the ball was deflected wide.

Wednesday now had the wind at their backs, and maybe this helped when they took the lead in the 49th minute.

Maguire hit a wicked, right-footed corner from the left, up went the heads and the ball ended up inside Lillis’ left-hand post.

It was hard to be sure who got the final touch, or whether the corner went straight in, because Maguire turned towards the Owls and raised his arms in celebration, But it looked like LOOVENS made contact with his head, and the announcer concurred.

Eight minutes later there were no doubts as ONYEWU powered a downward header from a right-side corner by Mattock, it was blocked, and the American rammed home the loose ball.

But it was not going to be plain sailing, Martinez had to turn over the bar a fine long-range kick by Henderson, then in the 60th minute was given no chance by a fantastic strike - a left-footed half volley from around 30 yards by Dale captain ROSE that sped into the top corner.

The home team’s hopes rose further when Mattock was sent off in the 64th minute, Booked in the 31st minute, he was shown another yellow for a foul, followed by the mandatory red.

From the free kick, Martinez touched Rose’s effort over the top. The keeper was proving to be vital. Wednesday grafted and stayed organised and should have had an 88th minute penalty: Lee was about to shoot from JJ’s pass when he was pushed in the back by Henderson and went flying.