Sheffield Wednesday 3 Nottingham Forest 0: Owls keep life in play-off push with thumping win
When it comes to the mantra of it's not over until it's over, Sheffield Wednesday are certainly sticking by it.
Their play-off aspirations may have taken a near fatal hit with defeat to Aston Villa at the weekend.
But a surprisingly routine, comfortable over a Nottingham Forest side who were still harbouring faint hopes of their own at kick-off shows there is still life in the Owls just yet.
A second half brace from Marco Matias and a spectacular strike from George Boyd lit up what had been a pretty dour affair and ensured the more optimistic Wednesdayites can continue to dream.
Games to come elsewhere on Wednesday night may ensure the task grows more difficult for Steve Bruce's side but the events at Hillsborough demonstrated the strong desire to continue what has been a superb second half of the season.
Fittingly, on his 200th game for the club, skipper Tom Lees ended the night with another clean sheet to add to his collection.
The emphatic nature of the final scoreline could not have been predicted in a tame opening period.
If this was to be a battle against two sides desperately clinging to a hope of reaching the top six, it was not particularly reflected by the action on the pitch in the first half.
The tempo was surprisingly low, given the urgency of the win-or-bust situation in which both sides found themselves.
Wednesday certainly had the better impetus in the first half, demonstrating the better control in the middle of the park.
With Barry Bannan and Sam Hutchinson both missing out - two of four changes made from the defeat to Aston Villa - Adam Reach and Joey Pelupessy formed the central two.
It particularly suited Reach, who was able to dictate play with his superb range of passing as well as join in attacks from deep.
The game had threatened to explode into life after a low key opening.
Lucas Joao met a Matias cross at the back post only to see Forest keeper Luke Steele bat away his header on the goalline.
And at the other end the lively Joe Lolley fired wide the first of several shots from distance.
Keiren Westwood denied Lolley with a good save as the Forest midfielder curled a free kick from the right edge of the box.
It took some time for Wednesday to find their groove but they produced a brilliant passing move which ended when Steven Fletcher drilled wide from the edge of the box.
Steele made a brilliant one handed save near the foot of his post after a rasping Matias drive from the edge of the box.
Almost immediately Westwood made himself big to block an effort from Lolley at the other end.
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The two sides continued to exchange chances with Reach sending an awkward volley on goal which Steele dealt with well while Lewis Grabban failed to capitalise on a mistake from Lees and he shot well wide.
Fletcher arguably should have done better with a header after meeting a superb cross from the energetic Matias.
If the game needed an injection of excitement, it got one barely a minute into the second half.
Matias charged onto a loose ball 30 yards out and lashed a volley that caught Steele completely off-guard and found the corner of the net.
Steele had been too slow to reposition himself from a clearance but the strike was nevertheless a sweet one from Matias.
The response from Forest was rather meek and it was Wednesday who looked more likely to add to the score.
They did just that on 58 minutes.
Boyd collected the ball in space on the left, moved to the edge of the box and lashed an unstoppable effort beyond Steele into the far corner.
By 68 minutes Wednesday were well and truly out of sight.
Matias got a little fortunate when Yohan Benalouane's attempted clearance ricocheted off him and forced Steele into a smart save. But the Portuguese forward reacted quickly to collect the loose ball and slot into an empty net.
From there, the result was academic, with the life sucked out of the game.
Lees ensured his personal milestone finished without having conceding with a superb last ditch tackle to deny Matthew Cash.
The gap to fourth spot sits, temporarily at least, at four points, Just enough to keep hope alive.
OWLS: Westwood; Palmer, Lees, Hector, Fox; Matias (Lazaar ), Pelupessy, Reach, Boyd; Fletcher (Hooper 62), Joao (Nuhiu 78). Subs not used: Dawson, Thorniley, Forestieri, Winnall.
FOREST: Steele, Byram, Wague, Benalouane, Robinson, Yates, Cash, Colback (Ansarifard 79), Lolley, Appiah (Pele 69), Grabban (Murphy 79). Subs not used: Pantilimon, Carvalho, Janko, Yacob.
REFEREE: Lee Mason