Reading 1 Sheffield Wednesday 3 - Birthday boy Sam Hutchinson helps managerless Owls get off to winning start
Birthday boy Sam Hutchinson claimed his first goal in nearly two years to help managerless Sheffield Wednesday beat Reading 3-1 in their season opener.
The midfielder, who turned 30 today, headed home Barry Bannan's 56th minute corner to put the Owls back in front after Yakou Meite had cancelled out Kadeem Harris's first half opener.
Keiren Westwood was sent off in the 80th minute after upending Mo Barrow just outside the penalty area to set up a grand-stand finish in a pulsating clash at the Madejski Stadium.
But substitute Lucas Joao sealed the victory deep into added on time to ensure Wednesday earned consecutive away league wins at Reading for the first time since December 1979.
Victory moved the Owls to the top of the embryonic table and boosted caretaker boss Lee Bullen's hopes of landing the permanent manager's job.
Bullen, who handed debuts to summer signings Julian Börner, Moses Odubajo and Harris, watched his team create the first chance of note in the third minute when Steven Fletcher calmly chested down Odubajo's long ball upfield before seeing his low left foot drive force Reading debutant Joao Virginia into action.
Both sides cancelled each other out in a cagey opening in the Berkshire sunshine.
Harris, deployed on the left wing, demonstrated his pace and power by shrugging off the attentions of Andy Yiadom before racing forward into the penalty area only to see Virginia foil him at his near post.
But the Royals should have taken the lead against the run of play in the 23rd minute. Ex-Barnsley man Yiadom latched on to John Swift's pass but saw his initial effort saved by Keiren Westwood. Mo Barrow's follow-up was cleared off the line by Wednesday captain Tom Lees. Reading appealed for a penalty, claiming the ball hit Lees on the arm, but referee James Linington was not interested.
The response from the Owls to that let-off was swift and decisive. After Barry Bannan's left foot curler drifted agonisingly wide, Harris fired the visitors in front it was a piece of individual brilliance. He raced on to Liam Palmer's ball over the top and out-muscled Yiadom before drilling a right foot drive past Virginia.
Despite enjoying the lion-share of possession, Reading rarely looked like breaking down Wednesday's well-organised backlined. Josh Barrett blazed over from distance before Meite, who cut an isolated figure at times, headed over in the closing stages of the first period.
After Harris flashed a drive over, the hosts restored parity in the 54th minute through Meite, whose looping header from Josh Barrett's cross left Westwood stranded.
But Reading's joy was short-lived as the Owls regained the lead. A quick counter attack involving Fletcher and Harris culminated in Fletcher's fierce shot being headed out for a corner by Matt Miazga. From the resulting set-piece, Hutchinson rose highest to glance in Bannan's delivery to bag his first goal since August 2017.
Wednesday kept probing for a third and Fletcher's header drifted inches off target before Palmer cut inside and unleashed a stinging shot which deflected just wide.
With 10 minutes remaining, Bullen's men were reduced to 10 men after Westwood was adjudged to have fouled Barrow outside the penalty area. It was a big defensive mix up between Westwood and Odubajo and swung the momentum Reading's way.
Cameron Dawson replaced Fletcher and the back-up shot-stopper was immediately called into action as he kept out Charlie Adam's attempt as the hosts piled on the pressure.
Seven minutes of added on time were signalled and Joao wrapped up the points for the Owls by turning sharply on the edge of the box before steering a shot out of Virginia's reach.Reading: Virginia; Yiadom, Moore, Miazga, Richards; Rinomhota, Swift (Novakovich 85); Loader (Adam 65), Barrett (Olise 64), Barrow, Meite. Substitutes: Walker, Morrison, Baldock, McIntyre.Owls: Westwood; Odubajo, Lees, Börner, Palmer; Hutchinson, Bannan, Lee (Joao 78); Reach, Harris (Forestieri 78), Fletcher (Dawson 81). Substitutes: Fox, Rhodes, Pelupessy, Nuhiu.Attendance: 16,319 (2,149). Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight)