Sheffield Wednesday 3 Swansea City 1 – Steve Bruce’s rejuvenated Owls team are on the right lines
There are clear signs of some much-needed green shoots of recovery at Hillsborough.
Wednesday produced a scintillating first half attacking display to blow an abject Swansea City team away on Saturday afternoon.
A first half brace from Adam Reach along with a stunning overhead kick from Steven Fletcher handed Steve Bruce his first home win since succeeding Jos Luhukay. It was also the first time the Owls had scored three goals in a match this season.
The Swans improved after the break and substitute Wayne Routledge reduced their arrears in the 69th minute with a deflected strike but Wednesday were good value for maximum points.
"We knew what Swansea would do, they had good players and would have plenty of the possession," said Reach. "We knew we could hit them on the break and we need to be clinical, and I thought we took our chances.
"That’s what we have been lacking, especially in the home games.
"It’s always nice to go 3-0 ahead at the break, you can - not take your foot off the gas - but organise yourselves and dictate the game. I thought we thoroughly deserved the win."
For Reach, it was a big relief to end his two-month goal drought.
He said: "I think I have been playing some good football, but not taking my chances. I hadn’t scored since Boxing Day and that had felt like a really long time.
"I am glad to put those two chances away and hopefully we can kick on.
"Overall, we are very pleased. We knew in the second half Swansea would push more and more men forward, we held strong, conceded one, but I don’t think the result was ever in doubt."
SO MANY POSITIVES
There were plenty of outstanding individual performances. Keiren Westwood pulled off a series of excellent saves either side of half-time. His stop to thwart Daniel James in the 26th minute when the Owls led just one nil was a pivotal moment. Westwood also denied Courtney Baker-Richardson and James late on as Swansea pressed hard for a second.
Liam Palmer continued his stellar form at right-back and Sam Hutchinson was at his combative best in the centre, although his passing occasionally let him down.
Deadline-day recruits Achraf Lazaar and Rolando Aarons made their first Wednesday starts since arriving on loan from Newcastle United and the duo worked well in tandem on the left hand side. Their energy was infectious and rubbed off on their team-mates.
Lazaar, in for the injured Morgan Fox, barely put a foot wrong. He was aggressive and looked comfortable on the ball.
Aarons bagged two assists and nearly got on the scoresheet himself. The speedy winger was deservedly given a standing ovation when subbed off just after the hour mark.
Bruce said: "When I have walked through the door, we identified that the squad needs a hand with a little bit of pace and youth.
"I was delighted with the two Newcastle boys. I think they did terrific on their debuts.
"They are delighted to be here. They both played with a smile on their face. They have given us something a bit different down the left hand side with their pace and energy.
"They have not played anywhere really but it just shows you what you can do if you go and do your homework.
"Lazaar played an Under-23s match at WBA and we had him watched. Everything was positive."
Bruce's first piece of business as Wednesday boss was to sign Dominic Iorfa and he also looks a shrewd addition. The powerful defender impressed after coming off the bench.
It will inevitably, though, be Reach who hogs most of the headlines. His 11th minute opener oozed quality following good work by Lucas Joao and Aarons.
Reach then bagged his ninth goal of the campaign. He pounced on a sliced clearance from Declan John and drilled a fierce low shot past Kristoffer Nordfeldt.
"I am delighted with my goals," he said. "I didn’t have much time to think about either of them, it was just get your head down and shoot.
"Scoring on Boxing Day, it seems like ages ago. I have missed a few chances, at Ipswich, and home against Reading.
"I felt like I was in one of those slumps where I couldn’t find a goal. I just had to keep working hard, I have been in the game long enough now, to know that if it’s not going so well, it wall always eventually turn around, if you keep working hard. It happened for me today."
Fletcher added the coup to de grace by scoring a spectacular third after Tom Lees hooked the ball back into the penalty area.
Reach said: "Steven does those finishes in training every day. It might have surprised a few, but nobody was surprised in the Wednesday kits today.
"He is leading the line fantastically this season, and he has probably hasn’t got as many goals as he has deserved. We are delighted he got on the scoresheet and hopefully he can keep on scoring."
Wednesday are by no means the finished article. They dropped off in the second half and allowed Swansea to gain a foothold.
Reach said: "We haven’t had that for a while, going 3-0 up at half-time. I don’t think we have ever had that since I came to the club. You just need to concentrate, dig in, and we did that."
The midfielder is enjoying his role in the side, saying: "He (Steve Bruce) has told me to stay wide, show people my strengths running with the ball.
"But the way Swansea played, played into our hands. They pushed so many men forward, if you are defensively organised, there is opportunities to hit them on the break.
"Once you do that, you create space, especially out wide, and in the first half I got a lot of joy down the right, me and Liam Palmer.
"Ultimately, it’s about taking your chances and I thought that was the difference against Swansea. We took our chances in the first half."
One thing is for certain; the smiles are back at S6 and long may that continue.