Sheffield Wednesday 1 Luton Town 0 - Kadeem Harris the hero as Lee Bullen's side secure hard-fought win to go top of the league

No one can dispute the fact that Lee Bullen is making a compelling case for the permanent managerial role at Sheffield Wednesday.

By Dom Howson
Wednesday, 21st August 2019, 12:18 am

Bullen is hungry for the Owls job and has significantly boosted his chances of landing the full-time gig after overseeing three victories from four matches.

The Scot, in his third caretaker stint since December 2017, passed his first big test on Tuesday evening.

Some Wednesdayites questioned whether Bullen was the right man to take the club forward after Saturday's disappointing loss to 10-man Millwall.

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Owls Kadeem Harris celebrates his goal with Barry Bannan. Pic Steve Ellis

And under the lights at Hillsborough, Bullen's side were second best in the opening 45 minutes against league new boys Luton Town.

But whatever Bullen said in the home dressing room at half-time worked a treat as Wednesday raised their level to secure maximum points thanks to Kadeem Harris's 54th minute tap in.

'I am living the dream' - Interim Sheffield Wednesday boss Lee Bullen cannot hide his delight after their gritty win over Luton Town

Sheffield Wednesday's Steven Fletcher scores a goal before having it disallowed for being offside during the Sky Bet Championship match at Hillsborough, Sheffield. Nigel French/PA Wire.

Victory increased Bullen's hopes of being handed the reins on a permanent basis and means the Owls have only lost two of their past 22 league fixtures played at home on a Tuesday (W13 D7), losing 2-1 both times to Ipswich in March 2018 and Brentford in February 2017.

After a sluggish, scrappy start, it was Luton who could have taken a ninth minute lead following a free-flowing move. Kazenga Lua Lua showed good awareness to pull the back for Ryan Tunnicliffe but the midfielder blazed over when he should have at least hit the target.

Lua Lua, one of three changes for the visitors, looked lively early on and his rasping right foot drive was turned away by Keiren Westwood as the Hatters controlled proceedings.

As an attacking force, Wednesday struggled to get going and the crowd expressed their frustration. Kadeem Harris saw his right foot curler beaten away by Simon Sluga and Jacob Murphy also forced the Hatters goalkeeper into a routine stop but the Owls were outplayed in the first half.

They were second best in the middle of the park and never got to grips with Luton's fluid system.

The home team's play lacked any urgency or purpose and the Hatters came close to scoring in the 21st minute after a mistake by Keiren Westwood, who has endured a tough start to the campaign. The Republic of Ireland international, sent off on the opening weekend of the season at Reading, made a hash of a clearance after superb pressing by James Collins and the loose ball dropped invitingly to Andrew Shinnie, whose 30 yard strike was acrobatically tipped over by the back-pedalling Westwood.

It was all very pedestrian and predictable from the Owls. There was no cohesion or fluency to their forward forays.

Luton captain Sonny Bradley planted a free header from Jacob Butterfield's over the bar in front of the Kop as Wednesday continued to ride their luck.

A few boos greeted the half-time whistle and Wednesday could count themselves lucky to go into the break on level terms. The Hatters, seeking their first league victory since gaining promotion to the second-tier, played with freedom and adventure.

But the Owls upped the intensity after the restart and got their noses in front through Harris. Jacob Murphy retrieved possession after a mix-up at the back and the Newcastle United loanee floated a teasing delivery towards the back post. Steven Fletcher knocked the ball back across the face of goal and Harris tapped home from inside the six-yard box to claim his second goal in four outings since joining Wednesday on a free transfer.

The goal visibly lifted the hosts and Fletcher had a goal disallowed in the 66th minute for offside after the outstanding Julian Börner nodded Moses Odubajo's cross into his path.

Murphy then whipped in a peach of a delivery from the right but Fletcher steered his header narrowly wide.

Luton enjoyed plenty of possession in the closing stages but found it difficult to penetrate Wednesday's well-organised backline, who were brilliantly marshalled by Börner.

Harris was unplayable at times in the second half. The speedy winger skipped past substitute Luke Bolton before surging forward and clipping in a lovely cross to Murphy, who headed over with the goal at his mercy.

But it was job done as far as Bullen and Wednesday were concerned as they held on to seal their first league win over Luton since 1992.

Owls: Westwood; Odubajo, Lees, Börner, Fox; Hutchinson, Bannan, Reach (Winnall 79); Murphy, Harris (Lee 88), Fletcher (Luongo 86). Substitutes: Dawson, Lee, Rhodes, Bates, Forestieri.

Luton: Sluga; Cranie (Bolton 59), Pearson, Bradley, Bree; Butterfield (Pelly-Ruddock 73), Tunnicliffe, Shinnie; Lua Lua (I Brown 68); Cornick, Collins. Subs: E Lee, Moncur, Jones, Shea.

Attendance: 23,353.

Referee: David Webb (Lancashire)

Star man: Julian Börner