Sheffield Wednesday 4 Blackburn Rovers 2 – Owls keep up play-off push after thrilling home win

Sheffield Wednesday v Blackburn Rovers
Sheffield Wednesday v Blackburn Rovers
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In-form Sheffield Wednesday maintained their late promotion charge after an entertaining Championship tussle with Blackburn Rovers.

The Owls established a two goal-lead after strikes either side of half-time from Steven Fletcher and substitute Atdhe Nuhiu.

Substitute Craig Conway netted for Rovers in the 72nd minute only for Dominic Iorfa and Marco Matias to put Steve Bruce's men 4-1 up.

Rovers captain Elliott Bennett pulled another one back in the closing stages but it proved too little too late as Wednesday stretched their unbeaten run under boss Steve Bruce to 10 matches.

Buoyed after beating struggling Wigan Athletic on Tuesday, Blackburn looked lively in the early stages. Bradley Dack, Rovers top-scorer, tried his luck from long range but he dragged his left foot effort well wide.

Wednesday were forced into a midfield reshuffle in the 10th minute as Sam Hutchinson limped off with an injury. Hutchinson pulled up in the warm-up with a knock. He tried to play through the pain barrier but was eventually replaced by Joey Pelupessy.

Moments later, Fletcher broke the deadlock on his 100th Owls outing. The Scot tapped home after a good play on the right flank by full-back Dominic Iorfa.

Fletcher's strike visibly lifted the Owls and Rolando Aarons fizzed in a dangerous delivery that narrowly evaded Sam Winnall and Adam Reach in the centre.

It was one-way traffic as Reach forced Rovers goalkeeper David Raya into action at his near post after a lovely run. Winnall, making his first Wednesday start since August 2017, was unable to turn the ball home and the visitors survived.

Michael Hector then came close to doubling the Owls' lead in the 17th minute. His firm header from Reach's delightful cross clipped the left hand upright before bouncing to safety.

There was a let off Wednesday when Joe Rothwell dispossessed Iorfa and let a rapid counter attack but Dack's effort on the strike was easily kept out by Keiren Westwood.

In treacherous weather conditions, things turned a little scrappy.

Fletcher was harshly yellow carded after upending Harrison Reed out wide as Rovers pressed for an equaliser.

Westwood came to the Owls' rescue, diving brilliantly down to his left to parry Dack's fierce shot after nimble footwork by the forward in the penalty area. Liam Palmer, named in the senior Scotland squad for the first time last week, hacked away the loose ball.

Winnall joined Fletcher in the book after a rash challenge on Derrick Williams shortly after half-time. It was Winnall's last meaningful contribution before coming off for Marco Matias.

Blackburn missed a glorious chance to level things up in the 54th minute when the busy Rothwell floated in a teasing delivery towards the back post that Danny Graham, who was completely unmarked, glanced wide with the goal at his mercy.

It proved a costly miss as substitute Nuhiu, on for the injured Fletcher, nodded in Barry Bannan's inch perfect free kick on the hour mark in front of a jubilant Kop.

Momentum was with Wednesday and Reach's spectacular chip from near the halfway line flew narrowly over.

Owls skipper Tom Lees had to be alert to clear Conway's cross to safety as Rovers kept plugging away.

And their perseverance paid off in the 72nd minute when Conway coolly drilled a shot past Westwood after a neat pass by Rothwell.

But Rovers inability to defend set pieces came back to haunt them again when Iorfa hooked home after Tony Mowbray's team failed to deal with Bannan's free kick.

Matias added a fourth following lovely approach play by Nuhiu and Bannan, although Raya should have saved his weak shot.

Rovers responded immediately through Bennett, who cut back on to his right foot and fired past Westwood.

Victory moved the Owls up to 10th, leaving them just two points adrift of the top-six.

Owls: Westwood; Iorfa, Lees, Hector, Palmer; Reach, Bannan, Hutchinson (Pelupessy 10), Aarons; Fletcher (Nuhiu 58), Winnall (Matias 55). Substitutes: Dawson, Fox, Thorniley, Boyd.

Blackburn: Raya; Nyambe, Magloire, Williams; Reed (Conway 55), Travis, Evans (Buckley 68), Bennett; Rothwell, Dack, Graham (Armstrong 68). Substitutes: Leutwiler, Smallwood, Brereton, Nuttall.

Attendance: 24,608

Referee: James Linington (Newport)