WEDNESDAY passed a test of character on Saturday and showed the vital ability to win without playing well.
They started as hot favourites on a cold day against lowly Yeovil but had to come from behind after producing one of their worst home first halves of the season.
The second half was more like it: the Owls improved their creativity and put the stubborn Glovers under greater pressure.
Another outstanding strike from Jermaine Johnson - his third in the last five games - put them back in it and another familiar source, a set-piece, gave Reda Johnson a career-best tally of six goals for the season.
Regardless of how the result was achieved, it was a satisfying one, when United could not keep up the
pace as they were not playing, Huddersfield only drew and the Owls moved up second place.
“There’s character, honesty and desire in the squad,” said Gary Megson.
“We have a mantra that we must try to score the first goal. There have been quite a few occasions when we haven’t and we’ve got a way of dragging ourselves into and getting something out of the game.”
A half-time team talk from an angry manager plus his second-half subtistutions had an effect on the game.
But in the first half the Owls’ passing in general and their final ball were often below par.
When Jermaine Johnson, following orders in going on the outside instead of always cutting inside on to his right foot, did play a great ball across goal, there was nobody on the end of it; Yeovil then went straight up the other end and scored through a link-up between their Spurs loan duo.
Left-back Ryan Dickson ran at Jon Otsemobor and played an incisive pass to striker Jonathan Obika, who got in behind Danny Batth to slot the ball home.
There already been a scare when midfielder Dean Parrett charged down an Otsemobor clearance and should have gone for goal but tried to find striker Gavin Williams and a challenge by David Prutton came to the rescue.
Megson reflected on his mood at half time: “I was angry because I thought we’d put a game at risk.
“We’d spoken about it: I thought it might be like that; it was a cold day, there wasn’t a big crowd by our standards. We needed to create a bit of a spark to get Hillsborough going. We didn’t do that.
“We probably played in a way that matched the cold.”
He identified the cause of the second-half improvement: “Having a lot more of a go; playing at a lot higher tempo; players who weren’t in the
team wanting to be in the team and trying to stay there.”
A double substition was made in only the 52nd minute. Gary Madine, disappointing for the second successive game, was replaced by Ryan Lowe, and Otsemobor by Lewis Buxton.
“Lewis and Ryan changed our approach,” said Megson, who underlined the fact that the strength of the squad means he always has options:
“We have good players, people like Rob Jones, and Chris Sedgwick, who played two games and did well, but now probably for the first time since I’ve been here we’ve got the opportunity to pick a team where it’s horses for courses.”
the plan on Saturday was to combat a compact Yeovil midfield three by having right-footed Jermaine Johnson and left-footed John Bostock playing on the ‘wrong’ sides, left and right respectively, so they could cut in and full backs Reda Johnson and Otsemobor could make overlapping runs. “We didn’t do that enough in the first half,” said the manager.
“I said at half-time we weren’t running like we normally do. I’ll be amazed if Reda Johnson wasn’t our hardest worker. He was immense right the way through, especially in the second half. You have to work and not waste the opportunites you get.”
Madine side-footed a chance wide just before being taken off. Lowe was lively, took up good positions and was a bit unfortunate not to score when he instinctively connected with a wayward shot by Prutton and the ball flew straight at the keeper.
But there was no stopping JJ’s cracker, a shot into the top corner from about 30 yards. “He’s got that in his locker,” said Megson, “He was terrific, apart from his goal.”
Wednesday powered towards the Kop and then made further chances or situations that could have brought goals.
Reda Johnson headed a Bostock cross wide; a Chris O’Grady ball was just too high for Lowe; Jose Semedo miscontrolled a JJ pass on the edge of the box, and Lowe planted a shot wide after good stuff from Clinton Morrison, who replaced the bustling O’Grady and produced one of his cameo roles.
Bostock had moments when he showed awareness and his cultured left foot.
A Morrison header, pushed out by the keeper after Batth flicked on a Buxton free-kick, brought the opening that was volleyed into the roof of the net by Reda Johnson.
When the stoppage time board showed four minutes, some Owls fans will have feared that their team were not yet home and dry.
But Wednesday defended solidly against desperate attacking - with Prutton, Buxton and Batth blocking shots - and had kept the ball near the opposition’s corner flag.
It was a chilly walk through the snow for fans afterwards but a heart-warming result.