How Hillsborough went from flat, to relieved, to rocking as Sheffield Wednesday fought back to beat Brentford

The fear factor is back at Hillsborough.

By Dom Howson
Sunday, 8th December 2019, 8:36 pm

Sheffield Wednesday's comeback victory over promotion rivals Brentford extended their unbeaten home run under manager Garry Monk to seven matches.

Only mid-table Queens Park Rangers have left S6 with three points this season (The R's have actually twice beaten the Owls on their own turf in 2019).

But Wednesday have turned Hillsborough into a place opponents dread visiting, losing just three times in their last 24 home league matches.

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Steven Fletcher scored twice in four second half minutes in Wednesday's win over Brentford

Yet the atmosphere inside the ground was not always on the best on Saturday.

It didn't help that the players gave Wednesdayites precious little to shout about in the first half. Monk branded their lethargic, lacklustre performance "unacceptable".

Too many individuals were below-par as the Bees dictated proceedings. Bryan Mbeumo glanced in the opener just before the half hour mark after poor Owls marking from Josh Dasilva's corner (it was the wrong decision to award a corner in the first place but Wednesday still should have dealt better with the set play).

There was a lack of tempo and intensity from the hosts, who failed to register a shot on target attacking the Kop end. It would not have flattered Brentford had they scored two or three.

Two goal Steven Fletcher celebrates at the final whistle with his teammates

"I could have changed seven or eight of them (at half-time)," admitted Monk.

In the end, Monk made one personnel change but it was a significant attacking alteration. Atdhe Nuhiu was taken off and Jordan Rhodes came on for only his fifth league outing. It proved an inspired change.

Rhodes, the Owls' £8m record-buy, was the catalyst for a much-improved display. His clever runs off the ball freed up Steven Fletcher and eased the strain on Wednesday's leading marksman.

Monk said: "I felt we weren't stretching them or playing down the sides of them enough. I thought Jordan came on and was fantastic."

Owls striker Steven Fletcher converts from the penalty spot for the equalising goal in the 2-1 win over Brentford at Hillsborough on Saturday. Photo: Steve Ellis

It was a classic case of a game of two halves.

Wednesday, embroiled in a row with the English Football League over the legality of the sale of Hillsborough to owner Dejphon Chansiri, played with more vim and vigour. Kadeem Harris was a superb outlet on the left flank and Fletcher bullied the Bees defence.

The service into Fletcher was non-existent in the opening 45 minutes but he could have scored five after the break. He steered an acrobatic volley just off target, a header wide from Barry Bannan's free kick and was denied by David Raya.

But Fletcher kept going and bagged two goals in four minutes to complete a stunning turnaround. The relief was tangible on the terraces when he levelled things up from the penalty spot after Rico Henry inexplicably handled Harris' cross.

Owls striker Steven Fletcher converts from the penalty spot for the equalising goal in the 2-1 win over Brentford at Hillsborough on Saturday. Photo: Steve Ellis

And the place was rocking in the 73rd minute after Fletcher controlled and fired home Harris' delivery to claim his fourth goal in two matches.

Christian Norgaard forced Cameron Dawson into action and the talented Said Benrahma curled agonisingly wide from just outside the penalty area as Brentford pushed for a late equaliser.

But Wednesday held on to end their long wait for a top-10 scalp. They dug deep and their strong home form has laid a solid foundation for a play-off push.