ON THIS DAY: Steven MacLean on target as Sheffield Wednesday beat Chesterfield

Steve MacLean celebrates the first of his two goals
Steve MacLean celebrates the first of his two goals
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The 2004/05 season found Sheffield Wednesday in League One for the second year.

The Owls had finished 16th the previous season in their first trip into the third tier since 1980 when Jack Charlton had guided them into the Second Division.

Paul Sturrock had taken over from Chris Turner in September and in December they embarked on an unbeaten run of 10 matches, including six victories, to find themselves in the play-off places.

Bradford City brought that run to an end at Hillsborough on 12 February 2005 and next up for the Owls was a trip to local rivals Chesterfield a week later.

The Spireites were in mid-table and were looking to keep up their good home record against Wednesday which had seen the Owls fail to win at Saltergate in 51 years.

The visitors showed their attacking intent in the first minute, a near-post ball intended for Steven MacLean by Jon-Paul McGovern was scrambled away with a loud appeal for handball before McGovern’s shot was saved by Carl Muggleton in the Chesterfield goal.

Jon Paul McGovern enjoys victory over Chesterfield

Jon Paul McGovern enjoys victory over Chesterfield

The Owls kept up the pressure with Muggleton then forced to tip the ball over from a mis-hit by Glenn Whelan with Paul Heckingbottom then inches away with a header that flashed across goal.

Tcham N’Toya hooked an ambitious shot wide from the edge of the box as Chesterfield enjoyed some rare respite but Wednesday were the better side and it was no surprise when they took the lead after quarter of an hour.

Chesterfield captain Ian Evatt inexplicably gave the ball away to Lee Peacock and the striker let fly with a low shot which was beaten out by Muggleton but only as far as MacLean who slotted home from close range.

McGovern sent a lovely ball across the face of the home box with Lee Bullen heading across goal from the subsequent corner.

Lee Peacock gets infront of Steve Blatherwick to head home the third goal

Lee Peacock gets infront of Steve Blatherwick to head home the third goal

N’Toya thought he had scored for the hosts but the flag was up for offside and really Wednesday should have been two goals to the good already such was their dominance.

Some neat interplay between MacLean and Brunt saw the striker run into the box and meet the Northern Irishman’s cross but he could only glanced his header wide despite being unmarked 10 yards out, half-time arriving with the Owls firmly in control but with just one goal between the sides.

They launched straight into attack after the break with Graeme Lee, Brunt and MacLean combining to force a corner which Lee headed into the arms of Muggleton.

At last the Owls got the second goal they deserved after 55 minutes.

Craig Rocastle

Craig Rocastle

A corner on the right was touched short to Brunt whose ball to the far post was headed back by Lee and went in off the backside of MacLean who left the Owls fans in no doubt which part of his anatomy it had gone in off.

The referee though was not impressed, believing the player was actually sticking his bottom out at the Spireites fans.

Chesterfield carried on the fight. Evatt headed a decent chance wide from a free-kick and Mark Hudson drove wide when Wednesday were unable to clear the ball from the box.

The Owls were relieved when Caleb Folan broke through but got himself into a tangle and allowed Lee to clear.

MacLean must have thought he was about to get his hat-trick when he shaped to shoot 12 yards out but Steve Blatherick got in a last-ditch tackle.

Peacock almost wrapped it up for the visitors but headed into Muggleton’s arms only for the same player to get finally their third with 12 minutes left as he headed home McGovern’s cross.

Chris Brunt

Chris Brunt

Chesterfield did pull one back when Mark DeBolla lashed a shot into the roof of the net in the final minute but the three points were never in doubt for the Owls who cemented fourth place, seven points behind Hull in the second automatic promotion spot.

MacLean explained his bum moment and subsequent celebration. “I turned away, I thought the ball was going away and the defender had it. It hit me on the backside and went in.”

Sturrock said: “The players were very positive in their approach: I was very pleased with them. I asked them to get back to being successful away from home.”