The impressive statistic that underlines the turnaround in Sheffield Wednesday’s defensive fortunes

When Jos Luhukay was sacked just before Christmas, Sheffield Wednesday had the worst defence in the Championship.

Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 9:50 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 9:58 am
Wednesday centre-half Michael Hector

Fast forward three months and the Owls have tightened up their leaky rearguard and become one of the hardest teams to break down at this level.

Wednesday racked up their seventh clean sheet in the last 10 outings in Tuesday's comfortable victory over relegation-threatened Bolton Wanderers.

Wednesday centre-half Michael Hector

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Steve Bruce, the Owls manager, said: “It (the defence) was something that we had to address. We were hemorrhaging two goals a game near enough.

"I don't care if you are Real Madrid or Barcelona; if you keep doing that, you are going to come unstuck.

"Every really good team has got to have a foundation and I have to say (Tom) Lees, (Michael) Hector and the goalkeeper (Keiren Westwood) have given us that.”

Goals from Steven Fletcher and Rolando Aarons ensured the Owls completed a league double over the Trotters for the first time since the 1982/83 season.

Fresh from receiving his maiden Scotland call-up, full-back Liam Palmer said: "It was a very hard-fought win with the conditions and the wind swirling.

"We were lucky to go in 1-0 up in the first half. It was a case of clearing our lines and we profited from our first bit of good play.

"The message at half-time was to be more calm on the ball and move it around a bit better.

"It was difficult to get it down at times but I think we did that a lot better in the second half.

"We knew they would come out in the second half but we managed to get the second goal and we were comfortable most of the second half."

After a sluggish start, the Owls coped well with the tricky playing conditions.

"With the wind swirling, you don't really know where the ball is going to go until the last minute," said Palmer. "You have to keep your eye right on it.

"I think our concentration levels were key there, especially with the defenders. We had to get around each other as a unit and I think we did that a lot better."

Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood, frozen out under Luhukay, kept his shut out intact by pulling off a superb reflex save to deny subtitute Clayton Donaldson late on. Wednesday have shipped in just nine goals in 15 matches since Luhukay was axed.

Palmer said: "We pride ourselves on clean sheets.

"Good solid work at the back gives the team that foundation to go on and hopefully win games which we managed to do on Tuesday night."