Sheffield Wednesday 2 Brentford 0 – Steven Fletcher’s double seals back-to-back home wins to maintain the Owls’ upward momentum under Steve Bruce

Let's give credit where credit is due.

Tuesday, 26th February 2019, 22:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th February 2019, 22:27 pm
GOAL....Owls Steven Fletcher hits first half goal...........Pic Steve Ellis

Steve Bruce has revitalised Sheffield Wednesday.

His Owls team are on a roll and in good shape ahead of Monday's eagerly-anticipated Sheffield derby.

While Bruce accepts a late play-off push is a tall order, it is not beyond the realms of possibility.

And Wednesday maintained their new-found momentum after a double either side of half-time from Steven Fletcher.

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The Owls brushed aside a strong, well-drilled Bees outfit with ease, pressing and harrying them into submission. It is they who are buzzing after back-to-back home victories and they could have won by more this time around.

The result lifted Wednesday into the top half of the table and extended their unbeaten run under Bruce to six matches. 

It took just 50 seconds for the Owls to create the first chance of note. Fernando Forestieri, in for the injured Lucas Joao in attack, curled a right foot drive over the bar after a surging run from Rolando Aarons.

The visitors, who were forced into making a late change to their starting line-up after midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo suffered an injury in the warm up, were slow out of the blocks.

And Fletcher spurned a glorious chance to give Wednesday a sixth minute lead, poking a shot wide from close range after a dangerous Barry Bannan free kick.

It has not taken Newcastle United duo Achraf Lazaar and Rolando Aarons long to form a promising partnership on the Owls' left hand side. Lazaar fed Aarons, whose cross flew agonisingly over.

Sam Hutchinson then received the first yellow card of the evening after a rash tackle on Bees centre-half Ezri Konsa.

Moments later, Sergi Canos collected Henrik Dalsgaard's clever pass but his strike from an acute angle was expertly blocked by Keiren Westwood at his near post. It was a big let off for Wednesday after Canos beat their offside trap.

It was an entertaining affair and the Owls continued to fashion chances. Left-back Lazaar whipped in a teasing inswinging corner and captain Tom Lees steered his powerful header over the bar.

Fresh from scoring in Wednesday's 3-1 triumph over Swansea City, Fletcher forced Daniel Bentley into action just before the half hour mark. He swivelled smartly on the edge of the area, seeing his rasping effort superbly parried to safety by Daniel Bentley.

The Owls suffered an injury setback when Lazaar limped off with a knock. Lazaar appeared to hurt his hamstring after a strong challenge on Canos.

It meant a defensive reshuffle with Dominic Iorfa, Lazaar's replacement, moving to right-back and Liam Palmer switching to the opposite flank.

The home fans were left incensed after referee Scott Duncan turned down a Wednesday penalty claim after Konsa appeared to handle Palmer's deep delivery.

But the Owls' pressure paid off when Fletcher fired them in front in the 41st minute after an exquisite defence-splitting pass by Bannan. The Scotland international controlled it immaculately before carrying the ball forward and drilling an unstoppage shot past the helpless Bentley.

Match official Duncan, who was booed off at half-time, issued a yellow card to Bruce after he protested over a throw in call.

It was an enterprising first half display by Wednesday and Fletcher nearly grabbed a second following fine approach play involving Bannan, Iorfa and Adam Reach.

Attacking the Kop end after the break, Fletcher and Aarons dovetailed effectively to set up Reach, who side-footed just wide.

Reach was the architect of Fletcher's second in the 48th minute. He received Forestieri's pass, darted towards the byline and floated the ball up to the far post and Fletcher powered a header past Bentley. Fletcher has now scored four goals in as many appearances at S6.

Fletcher's strike briefly stirred Brentford into life and Said Benrahma, who hit a hat-trick last weekend, flashed a 30 yard drive wide.

It took an excellent stop from Bentley to prevent Aarons from bagging a third as the Owls threatened to run riot.

Westwood produced two good saves in quick succession to foil Neal Maupay and Benrahma late on as the Bees pressed for a consolation.

But it was another job well done by Wednesday, who have lost just one of their last 12 league matches. This Owls team look completely unrecognisable from a couple of months ago and trail sixth-placed Bristol City by just six points.

Nobody has beaten them at Hillsborough since November 24. On this evidence, United will have their work cut out to end that run next week.

Owls: Westwood; Palmer, Lees, Hector, Lazaar (Iorfa 36); Reach, Bannan, Hutchinson (Pelupessy 69), Aarons; Forestieri (Boyd 83), Fletcher. Substitutes: Dawson, Pudil, Matias, Nuhiu.

Brentford: Bentley; Jeanvier, Konsa, Barbet; Dalsgaard, McEachran (Da Silva 65), Sawyers, Odubajo; Canos (Watkins 65), Maupay, Benrahma. Substitutes: Balcombe, Ogbene, Sorensen, Kirk.

Attendance: 23,094

Referee: Scott Duncan (Northumberland)