Match verdict: Ipswich Town 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1 – Steve Bruce insists there is ‘still a lot to do’ after narrow away win

It is fair to say Steve Bruce enjoyed his return to the dugout.

Sunday, 3rd February 2019, 18:02 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 16:13 pm
Lucas Joao scored a late winner for Sheffield Wednesday against Ipswich Town

He celebrated Lucas Joao's dramatic late winner by dashing out of his technical area and running on to the pitch.

"You do silly things in the last minute," said Bruce with a big grin on his face in the Ipswich Town media suite.

Lucas Joao scored a late winner for Sheffield Wednesday against Ipswich Town

"If I did a silly dance and all that then I do apologise."

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Joao's 90th minute goal ensured Bruce kicked off his Owls reign on a positive note. Things could not have gone much better for Wednesday. Three points, another clean sheet and a first league double over Ipswich Town since the 2006/07 campaign.

Bruce had feared it was not going to be Wednesday's day as the Owls missed a host of chances.

But second-half substitute Joao, who hit a brace when the teams met in the reverse fixture last August, fired home after superb approach play involving Michael Hector and Adam Reach.

"It should have been a lot more comfortable than 1-0 to be brutally honest," acknowledged Bruce. "We missed some really good chances which on another day could've gone against us.

"When you miss so many chances - how many times have we seen it? You think it’s going to be one of those days.

"In the end, I think we had five or six wonderful opportunities and didn’t take them and that always puts you under a bit of pressure.

"But overall I'm pleased. We were comfortable apart from our finishing."

FERNANDO FORESTIERI

As Bruce was keen to point out, Forestieri showed flashes of his quality in the number 10 position behind Steven Fletcher. The talismanic forward, handed his first start since November after shrugging off a hamstring problem, caused Ipswich's defence plenty of problems with his nimble foot work and trickery.

But the little magician was uncharacteristically wasteful in front of goal. He steered a free header over the bar when well-placed in the first half and missed a glorious opportunity after the break when one on one with Tractor Boys shot-stopper goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski following a defensive mix-up at the back.

Bruce said: "We went two up front but I thought Forestieri showed glimpses of what he could do. He missed a few chances but if he stays fit and we keep him right then he is a very, very good player.”

Forestieri was rusty in the final third. He lacked his usual sharpness but getting 86 minutes under his belt will stand him in good stead for the future.

Bruce admits he contemplated taking him off sooner.

"It was always a worry in case he nicked his hamstring again because that is the last thing we want," he said. "That was my biggest concern but on the 60th minute mark he seemed to get brighter and the longer it went on I thought if anyone is going to find a little bit of magic it was him.

"Rather than tire, it was typical Fernando. He looked the other way and looked a bit fresher.

"It (the injuries) is something we have got to look at and address. There have been too many and we have got to find a reason for that but thankfully Fernando is okay and we are pleased about that."

MISSED CHANCES

It was not just Forestieri who fluffed his lines. Steve Fletcher was denied by Bialkowski after he latched on to a clever pass by Hector before Reach somehow cleared the bar from six yards.

Bruce said: "We created three or four wonderful chances. Reachy will never miss a chance like that again. Forestieri and then Fletch missed chances too.

"We can sharpen up on our finishing but overall 1-0 away from home is always a decent result.”

Wednesday outplayed a modest Ipswich team for long periods. It took Paul Lambert's struggling side until the 83rd minute to register a shot on target when sub Trevor Chalobah's header from an Alan Judge corner was saved well by Keiren Westwood.

"First half, I don't think we were anything near at it," said Lambert. "Second half was more like it, we forced the issue more.

"But, the goal was a really poor one to concede and Myles Kenlock got caught out. It was a poor goal to lose to."

It was a match Wednesday were expected to win. The Tractor Boys have been bottom of the Championship since October and won just three league matches all season. Although the Owls made hard work of it, they got the job done.

Bruce said: "There's still a lot to do, let's not get carried away. But, defensively it was good to see and I have to thank the lads who've put in a lot of work on the training pitch to make that happen.

"You've got to make sure you give yourselves a platform and today there were glimpses that that can be more than just in defence."  

As for Bruce, he is loving being back in management.

"I'm absolutely delighted to be back,” he said. “As I've said many, many times, I needed the break for one reason or another.

“I just needed to recharge the batteries and dust myself down.

“I'm delighted to be given the opportunity and the support I've had from the Wednesday fans has been quite remarkable.”