Sheffield Wednesday 1 Aston Villa 3: Gary Hooper, Steven Fletcher’s penalty miss, Barry Bannan’s injury and the play-offs – Six talking points after the Owls’ cruel home defeat
Sheffield Wednesday’s play-off hopes were dealt a crushing blow as Aston Villa came-from-behind to beat Steve Bruce’s team 3-1 at Hillsborough today.
Owls writer Dom Howson picks out six talking points after the thrilling Championship encounter.
The striker capped his first Hillsborough start since December 2017 in fine fashion by opening the scoring in the seventh minute. Hooper's anticipation and movement in the penalty area was excellent as he tapped in George Boyd's low delivery. That goal should give Hooper plenty of confidence heading into the final six matches of the campaign.
The second half
Wednesday outplayed a top team at this level in the second half. They played on the front foot and took the game to Villa. "It was an onslaught but we couldn’t get the goal," said Bruce. "But it’s not about how you play. It’s about the result and those key moments. Sometimes you don't get what you deserve." It was a travesty the Owls succumbed to their first loss since mid-April but they can take heart from how they played.
Bannan was here there and everywhere in the centre. He dictated play and nearly crowned a top individual display by scoring in the first half. It was a big blow for the Owls when he came off in the 73rd minute with a hamstring injury. Bruce said: "It is disappointing for us because we all know his qualities. He was excellent."
Dominic Iorfa's injury
Iorfa has made a big impact since arriving from Wolverhampton Wanderers on January deadline-day, scoring three goals in 11outings. But the big defender's afternoon was cut short in the first half when he went off with a thigh problem. Hopefully it is nothing serious as Iorfa has acquitted himself well at Wednesday and has already established himself a key component of this team.
Steven Fletcher's penalty miss
Given the centre-forward's stellar goal-scoring exploits in recent months, you would have put your mortgage on Fletcher converting a 55th minute spot-kick after a woeful piece of defending by Tyrone Mings. But there was no conviction in Fletcher's penalty and Villa goalkeeper Jed Steer spared Mings' blushes by guessing the right way and keeping it out.
Play-offs look a tall order now
"You can never say never but six points is probably going to be too much to make up with six games to go but you can't give up the ghost," said Bruce. Wednesday will keep going until it is mathematically impossible but it looks a big ask now to sneak into the play-offs. They probably need to win all of their remaining fixtures to give themselves a fighting chance.