Match report: Owls 2 Fulham 1

Kieran Lee tackles Fulham's Tom Cairney.
Kieran Lee tackles Fulham's Tom Cairney.
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Atdhe Nuhiu stepped up off the bench to end his goal drought and put Sheffield Wednesday into the fourth round of the FA Cup after a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Fulham.

The giant striker, who had gone 16 matches without finding the back of the net, claimed the decisive goal with 17 minutes remaining to ensure the Owls completed a hat-trick of wins over Fulham.

Barry Bannan celebrates his spectacular goal with Ross Wallace

Barry Bannan celebrates his spectacular goal with Ross Wallace

Moussa Dembele cancelled out Barry Bannan's spectacular opener and Fulham can count themselves unlucky to have not forced a replay at the bare minimum after dominating large portions of the tie.

It is only the fourth time the Owls have reached the fourth round of Britain's oldest cup competition since 2001.

Head coach Carlos Carvalhal rotated his squad for the first of three Hillsborough matches in a week, making three alterations to the side who triumphed at Craven Cottage last weekend. Alex Lopez, Modou Sougou and Lucas Joao were handed recalls, with forwards Fernando Forestieri, Atdhe Nuhiu and Gary Hooper dropping out.

Forestieri, the Owls' top-scorer, was rested while Hooper was not granted permission to play by parent club Norwich City. Hooper is due to return to Carrow Road after next Saturday's Yorkshire derby with Leeds United.

There was a minute's applause before kick-off for Pavel Srnicek, who passed away. He spent two seasons at Hillsborough, making 52 appearances.

Jamie O'Hara, who netted when Wednesday ran-out 3-2 winners in their last meeting at Hillsborough, forced Joe Wildsmith into a routine save in the opening minute as the visitors made a promising start.

Jazz Richards was cautioned after unceremoniously bringing down Sougou, who looked to put the Owls on the front foot.

Moments later, Wednesday created the first meaningful opportunity following good work by Kieran Lee. His trademark surging run was desperately snuffed out by Fulham's defence but Glenn Loovens blazed over the loose ball when he should have at least hit the target.

Wildsmith kept his composure well to punch away O'Hara's driven free kick after the hosts had given away a cheap free kick in a good position.

Fulham carved out another opportunity mid-way through the half, with Shaun Hutchinson sending a free header at the far post narrowly wide after a fine corner by O'Hara.

It took some excellent defending by Hutchinson to prevent Joao from getting on the end of Sougou's lovely centre as the Owls kept pressing for the opener.

Fulham, arguably the biggest under-achievers in the second-tier of English football given their resources and squad they possess, threatened again through Alex Kacaniklic, who fed substitute Moussa Dembele, brought on as a replacement for the injured Cauley Woodrow, but the striker was denied a sight at goal by a sliding challenge from Vincent Sasso.

Wildsmith almost let the Cottagers dangerman Ross McCormack in following a heavy first touch but the young shot-stopper recovered well to poke the ball to safety.

Something special was required to bring the contest to life and Bannan, who has agreed a new three-and-a-half year deal, duly delivered in the 42nd minute, drilling a left foot piledriver past Andy Lonergan which went in off the crossbar. That was Bannan's first strike in front of the home faithful and he enjoyed celebrating with his teammates and the backroom staff.

But Wednesday's joy was short-lived as Demebele equalised a minute later, rifling home from close range after Liam Palmer could only partially clear McCormack's low centre.

Fulham perhaps should have completed a remarkable a turnaround when McCormack beat the off-side trap to break clear but his strike was kept out by Wildsmith.

Just after the re-start, Wildsmith produced a brilliant reaction save to push behind Dembele's header as the Cottagers started on the front foot.

Then Bannan came within a whisker of claiming his second, collecting Lee's lay-off before drilling his effort agonisingly over much to the frustration of the home faithful.

After Wildsmith failed to gather Lasse Vigen Christensen's lovely delivery, Dembele almost pounced only to be denied a sight at goal by some desperate defending from the hosts.

Sasso came close to making Fulham pay for their profligacy in front of goal, heading Ross Wallace's corner just over.

Fulham looked lively in the final third throughout and should have taken the lead in the 57th minute but Kacaniklic some how failed to turn in Tom Cairney's cross. It was a big let off for Wednesday and one of the misses of the season.

That opportunity came back to haunt the Cottagers as Nuhiu drilled in the winner.

Portugal international Joao wasted a glorious chance to add extra gloss to the scoreline in the dying minutes but he side-footed wide when well-placed after a great run and cross by Jeremy Helan.

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