Charlton Athletic 1 Sheffield Wednesday - The story of how Garry Monk's side ended their five-match winless run

No wonder Garry Monk punched the air in delight after Atdhe Nuhiu's bullet header hit the back of the net.

By Dom Howson
Sunday, 1st December 2019, 9:21 am
Updated Sunday, 1st December 2019, 6:35 pm

Some wins are bigger than others and Wednesday will be hoping the three points at The Valley has reignited their stuttering Championship campaign.

A depleted Charlton outfit made them work for it, but Monk's side were good value for a first win on the road in two months.

There were heroes in blue and white all over the pitch. Tom Lees, one of four changes made by Monk, was a tower of strength in defence, Barry Bannan ran the show in midfield to bag the man-of-the-match award, Kadeem Harris sparkled on the left wing in the second half and Steven Fletcher notched two goals to take his tally to eight for the season.

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There was plenty of positive intent in Monk's team selection. He selected an attack-minded side, playing Nuhiu, Fletcher and Fernando Forestieri from the start. Forestieri lined up on the left hand side of midfield as Monk ditched the 4-3-3 formation in favour of 4-4-2.

There was a carnival atmosphere in south-east London. This was the Addicks first outing since controversial Belgian owner Roland Duchatelet agreed to sell the club to East Street Investments. Prospective new chairman Matt Southall watched on from the stands as Lee Bowyer's injury-ravaged squad fell behind in the 17th minute after a trademark Fletcher header following a sumptuous cross by the irrepressible Bannan.

You feared it was going to be another one of those days for Wednesday when Forestieri, who showed some neat touches in a hard-working shift, somehow fired over after Dillon Phillips produced an excellent save to keep out Fletcher's header. It was a sitter.

Seventy five seconds later, the Owls gifted Charlton a way back into the contest, Macauley Bonne prodding a Alfie Doughty cross past Cameron Dawson.Forestieri's awful miss and Wednesday's poor defending for the equaliser encapsulated their season.

Steven Fletcher celebrates after scoring a second half penalty

Yet Forestieri's knee injury proved a blessing in disguise in some ways for Monk. Although it was a blow to lose Forestieri's services at half-time, it enabled Monk to move Harris from the right flank to the left. Harris was a constant threat after the break and Jacob Murphy, Forestieri's replacement, also put in an enterprising performance.

Harris ran the Addicks defence ragged and twice came close to getting on the scoresheet.

It was no big surprise when the Owls regained the lead with 10 minutes remaining from the penalty spot after Murphy was clumsily brought down by Erhun Oztumer. Fletcher coolly stroked in his second spot-kick in the last three matches.

Nuhiu added the coup de grace deep into added on time, powering in Adam Reach's peach of a cross after more good work by Bannan.

Nuhiu's late header sparked jubilant scenes in the away end and on the touchline. The relief was etched on Monk's face as he turned to celebrate with his coaching staff.

"We wanted to win and you could see how much we wanted to win," said Monk. "We knew they were going to put up a proper fight and we matched that, which was the key.

"It then allowed us to dominate the areas we needed to and allow our quality to come out on top but that is what we have been trying to do in every single game.

"We have fallen short in a few situations. Some by our own fault, some by where a little bit of the margins went against us. We got those margins right (against Charlton) and came firing back and that is what you have to do as a team."

Monk needed this result to silence some of his critics and Wednesday needed it to halt their mini blip.

It has to be hoped the Owls can use the win as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.