Sheffield Wednesday hammer Harrogate Town 4-0 in final Papa John’s Trophy group game
A makeshift Sheffield Wednesday side rounded off the Papa John's Trophy group stage in style with a 4-0 win over League Two outfit Harrogate Town.
The Owls, who made 10 changes for the match, also had Joe Wildsmith to thank after he made upwards of 10 saves to keep the visitors at bay in the first-ever competitive clash between the teams.
At the other end, goals from Saido Berahino, George Byers, Sylla Sow and Korede Adedoyin meant Darren Moore’s side guaranteed themselves a home tie in the last 32 of the competition.
Despite the visitors starting brighter, the first meaningful chance of the game fell to Wednesday after seven minutes when Massimo Luongo’s curled effort from just outside the area struck the post.
Luongo featured in midfield for the first time since August after recovering from a hamstring injury with George Byers, who himself had been out since September, also returning alongside him.
Both men came through 70 minutes unscathed.
The Owls took the lead on 18 minutes when Shodipo’s cross from the left found Jack Hunt inside the area, who managed to shift the ball from under his feet after scuffing a half-volley and pick out an unmarked Berahino for a simple tap-in.
Having made relatively few changes – four to Wednesday’s 10 – Harrogate played with more familiarity and fluency in the first period and forced Wildsmith into several smart stops.
And the League Two play-off chasers almost grabbed an equaliser before the break when Danilo Orsi hit the post from a rebound after Wildsmith saved from Jack Diamond.
Harrogate continued to ask questions of Wednesday after the interval but found themselves further behind after 56 minutes when Byers met another pinpoint Shodipo cross in the six-yard box and buried his header into the bottom corner.
It was 3-0 just minutes later – but not before a fine double save from Wildsmith – after Sylla Sow worked himself some space in the area before finding the bottom corner with a brilliant low strike.
Young forward Korede Adedoyin replaced Berahino after the third goal and was soon in on the action when he was tripped inside the box by Harrogate defender Connor Hall, who was shown a straight red for the challenge.
The 20-year-old sent Mark Oxley the wrong way with the subsequent penalty.