Sheffield Wednesday: Garry Monk's happy Middlesbrough return, Adam Reach's return to form and a first half masterclass - Five talking points after the Owls' emphatic away win

Garry Monk extended his unbeaten league run as Owls manager to three matches as they trounced Middlesbrough 4-1 after a devastating first half performance at the Riverside Stadium.

Saturday, 28th September 2019, 2:24 pm
Updated Saturday, 28th September 2019, 6:52 pm
Owls pair Barry Bannan and Steven Fletcher celebrate the team's away win at Middlesbrough

Boro midfielder Adam Clayton headed into his own net before Dominic Iorfa nodded past Darren Randolph to make it 2-0 after six minutes.

Paddy McNair's half-volley reduced the deficit before former Middlesbrough midfielder Adam Reach fired home and Steven Fletcher headed in a fourth before half-time.

Owls writer Dom Howson picks out five talking points following the Championship club's third straight win on the road.

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An inspired selectionSome eyebrows were raised over Monk's decision to field Steven Fletcher and Atdhe Nuhiu in attack. Neither Fletcher nor Nuhiu are renowned for pace and some Wednesdayites feared it would not work as a combination.

But the pair terrorised Boro in the air, particularly in the first half. Fletcher and Nuhiu bullied Boro's centre-backs Ryan Shotton and Dael Fry.

Nuhiu has become something of a tormentor for Boro in recent times, scoring four goals in 10 appearances against the Teesiders and the big man delivered yet again at the Riverside Stadium.

Wednesday's great strengthNo side has scored more headed goals than Owls in the Championship this season, with eight of the Owls' 15 strikes coming from headers.

Wednesday ruthlessly exploited Middlesbrough's weaknesses from set pieces. Barry Bannan claimed two assists as Adam Clayton headed his corner into his own net past a helpless Darren Randolph before Dominic Iorfa dived to nod home Bannan's fine free kick.

Adam Reach just loves playing Boro

By his own high standards, Reach has not been at his best this term and he has come in for some criticism.

But he silenced his doubters with a strong showing at his old stomping ground.

He scored Wednesday's third goal, ending his seven-month goal drought, before turning provider for Fletcher's fourth.

Reach has now scored in three successive matches against Middlesbrough.

Second half sloppinessWednesday took their foot off the gas after the break and Britt Assombalonga should have made them pay, missing two golden opportunities to reduce the deficit. Better teams than Boro would have punished such level of complacency.

Yet the Owls rode their luck and got the job done. Seven points out of a possible nine is an excellent start to Monk's reign.

Monk's happy Middlesbrough return

Monk endured a tricky six-month spell at Middlesbrough in 2017 and, unsurprisingly, was subjected to his fair share of stick from the terraces early on.

The Riverside has not been a happy hunting ground for him since he left. Monk entered the contest having lost all three of his matches against Boro with Birmingham in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.

But Monk had the last laugh this time around as his Owls side ran riot, scoring four goals in a breathless first period.