Growth continues as sucker-punched Sheffield Wednesday lose out to Rotherham United

It started with a chorus of Hi Ho Silver Lining the like of which had not been heard at Hillsborough since the return of supporters at the start of the season.

Sunday, 13th February 2022, 1:57 pm

It was passionate, alive with expectation, strangely personal to each and everyone belting it out. A midday Sunday kick-off did little to reduce that mood even in torrential conditions that left standing water on the pitch ahead of kick-off.

Even Rotherham United manager Paul Warne couldn’t stop himself from staring deep into the South Stand as the roar got loudest.

From the moment Barry Bannan rose from a challenge with Wes Harding and gestured into the crowd with every vein in his body pumped full of adrenaline, it was clear that passion had carried onto the pitch, too.

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Sheffield Wednesday captain Barry Bannan was in the thick of the fight in their clash with Rotherham United.

George Byers followed suit later on in a first half Wednesday dominated. Then Jack Hunt. Then Callum Paterson.

For too long players in blue and white have shrunk in front of the expectant crowd at S6 but no longer. Recent results suggest Hillsborough is a ground to be feared once more; the growing connection between players and supporters swells the feeling is that it can become a well of intimidation once again.

That first period saw the excellent Nathaniel Mendez-Laing come close, then Liam Palmer of all people. In the 139th game for the Owls Hunt had the ball in the back of the net and had his first goal for the club thwarted by the offside flag.

That dominance continued to the hour-mark. Wednesday were just better. And then the wave of a flag for a corner that could politely be described as ‘suspect’, a failure to truly clear their lines and a 1-0 scoreline even those behind the goal in red could scarcely believe.

What replaced the usual groan of ‘typical Wednesday’ came passion from the terraces, a sense of fight replicated on the Somme-like pitch. That Rotherham scored with only their second chance of the match felt particularly harsh.

It a cross the Owls must bear. For all their dominance, for all their endeavour, they had chances and failed to kill the game off. Rotherham, who deserve all the respect in the world for how they continue to go about things in League One, were given two sniffs and nailed them both.

Not often after a 2-0 defeat to their rivals does it still feel a team is going in the right direction. On Sunday afternoon the Owls’ growth was bruised but continued.

Sheffield Wednesday supporters have long since asked for their team to show fight and passion in the way they play the game. This one stings, especially against that opposition, but on the evidence of the last month or so and after a number of false dawns, they may well have had their wish granted.

Next up, Accrington Stanley.

Sheffield Wednesday: Peacock-Farrell; Storey, Hutchinson, Palmer; Hunt (Sow, 78’), Byers, Luongo, Bannan, Johnson; Mendez-Laing (Kamberi, 82’), Paterson

Subs: Wildsmith, Brown, Brennan, Waldock, Berahino

Rotherham United: Vickers; Harding, Wood, Ihiekwe; Ogbene, Barlaser, Lindsay (Rathbone, 46’), Wiles, Ferguson; Ladapo, Smith

Subs: Johansson, Mattock, MacDonald, Odoffin, Osei-Tutu, Kayode