WEDNESDAY have given their fans an extra treat by adding a thrilling FA Cup victory to their League One exploits - after 11 minutes of added time at Hillsborough yesterday.
A wonderful penalty save by Nicky Weaver and a stunning goal by Chris O’Grady helped to preserve the Owls’ unbeaten home record.
A late injury to Julian Bennett contributed to the lengthy injury time.
Ryan Lowe, who replaced him, provided the assist for O’Grady’s 88th-minute strike; then the Owls held firm to see off Championship opposition and reach the fourth round.
Wednesday had the better of the first half and the greater number of chances; the Hammers fought back in the second half but Weaver stopped a spot-kick by £2 million ex-MK Dons star Sam Baldock and O’Grady met Gary Megson’s plea for him to score more goals by bagging his fourth of the season.
The Owls made only three changes to the side that beat Tranmere on Monday to cement the club’s promotion challenge.
Jermaine Johnson and Julian Bennett came in for Clinton Morrison and the ineligible Ben Marshall, while fit-again Rob Jones replaced Miguel Llera.
Seven changes to the Hammers side that beat Coventry 1-0 last Monday included a recall at right-back for ex-Wednesday loan midfield man Joey O’Brien.
Kevin Nolan, admired by Gary Megson after their time together at Bolton, was among the rested regulars.
But Sam Allardyce’s side settled quickly to sweep towards the Kop end where a near-post scramble saw a cross by Henri Lansbury deflected on to the top of the bar by Nicky Weaver in the sixth minute.
Wednesday created a chance from their first real attack six minutes later: Jermaine Johnson, who was playing up front, flicked on a Weaver clearance to James Tavernier and the right winger shot across goal.
Then sublime build-up and a wayward finish left the crowd buzzing after Wednesday missed a glorious opportunity to go ahead in the 20th minute.
O’Grady used his strength to hold possession on the left and send Jermaine Johnson away with a lovely ball. JJ took it well and cut inside an opponent expertly, on to his left foot. With the goal at his mercy he struck his effort wide of the keeper’s left-hand post, and no wonder he followed that by putting his hands to his head.
The chances were a product of the Owls making most of the early running and showing some good passing and movement, with the front two having plenty of involvement - unlike West Ham’s little-and-large attack ofBaldock and Jon Carew.
A third chance was missed, this time by Danny Batth, who was solid at the back but inacurrate with his free header
from a long throw by Bennett.
The Hammers could have made the Owls pay for their wastefulness. A right-side cross from Jack Collison made a simple-close-range opening for left winger Freddie Sears but his mistimed header looped over the bar.
Bennett steamed in a for Lines corner and nearly scored before West Ham saw the ball deflected for a goal kick.
Rare pressure from the visitors ended when Weaver beat away a volley from Collison and prevented the injustice of a Hammers lead at half time. Applause from the home crowd reflected a decent first half for their team, just lacking goals.
The mood changed to worry just after the restart when West Ham pressure from a short corner resulted in Reda Johnson bringing down centre-back Winstone Reid just inside the box - a penalty.
Baldock struck it well enough but Weaver sprang down to his right to make a brilliant save with his right hand, in the 49th minute, under the noses of West Ham’s 4,000 following.
The Hammers looked a more of a threat than they had done in the first half.
With a Wednesday breakthrough not looking immiment, Gary Megson reshuffled after an hour. He took off Reda Johnson, moved Bennett to left-back and Jermaine Johnson to the left wing, and sent on Clinton Morrison up front.
Good defending prevented Morrison profiting from a dangerous ball into the middle by O’Gray, and the sub’s lay-off to Chris Lines led to a goalbound shot by the midfield player which was blocked.
From the right, Baldock unleashed a fine strike and it looked as if Weaver got a touch before the ball bounced away off his right-hand post.
Back came Wednesday with Batth, under pressure, heading a Lines free kick over the top.
Tavernier made way for Daniel Jones, who went to the left side of midfield, with Jermaine Johnson swapping flanks.
There was some heroic defending from Wednesday - for which Morrison and Bennett paid when they clashed heads in throwing themselves at a ball close to goal. Morrison resumed; Bennett was carried off after a long delay.
That meant another change; Megson sent on a third striker. Ryan Lowe, in the 86th minute, and two minutes later it paid off.
Morrison fed Lowe, he played a neat ball to send O’Grady away down the right, and from the right side of the box and narrow angle the centre-forward drilled a shot into the keeper’s bottom right-hand corner.
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce thought that Ruud Boffin should have saved it - but he was beaten by acccuracy and power.
Wednesday were far from home and dry, with stoppage time to come.
They held firm, trying to keep the ball in the opposition’s half, and defending sol
idly when they had to. They also had a let-off in the 10th of those extra minutes when sub Frank Nouble volleyed a close-range chance over the bar.
Allardyce felt his team paid for failing with the penalty, and missing their own chances.
But ultimately Wednesday had the edge at both ends.