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Sheffield Wednesday: Matt Penney, talk of a new contract, Aston Villa tweets, stunning goals and farewell to courageous Hayley … here’s the story of the Owls’ September

Matt Penney
Matt Penney

It was a tweet of few words that said so much.

Sheffield Wednesday had just produced their best display of September to win 2-1 at Aston Villa.

Holding off Calvin Phillips

Holding off Calvin Phillips

Villa fan @thevillalove1 overcame his disappointment as the pre-season promotion favourites suffered a deserved defeat.

“By the way, what a great player Sheff have at LWB. Penney.”

With more and more people, the Penney is beginning to drop: the Owls have a major talent on their hands in Academy prospect Matt who spent the month showing his worth in the senior side.

The 20-year-old has started in six Championship matches this season and Wednesday haven't lost any of them.

With fellow youngster Jordan Thorniley

With fellow youngster Jordan Thorniley

September was another decent month for Jos Luhukay's side. A first away win, 2-1 at Reading, was followed by a come-from-behind 2-2 draw at home to Stoke City, a no-show in a 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest, where Penney was rested, that thrilling triumph at Villa and a backs-to-the-wall 1-1 draw at home to pace-setting Leeds United.

Marco Matias, Daniel Pudil, Ash Baker injury update

The emergence on the left flank of Penney, who has been with the club since he was at primary school in Chesterfield, was arguably the best development of all.

@thevillalove1 wasn't the only person in the Midlands to take note. Villa winger Albert Adomah  didn't say it on Twitter, but the veteran of more than 400 league games can't have helped but be impressed when he was completely undone by a nonchalant Penney drag-back. Surely that should have been happening the other way round.

Celebrating victory at Aston Villa with Jos Luhukay

Celebrating victory at Aston Villa with Jos Luhukay

Luhukay knows the potential of one of Wednesday's own. The second international break of the season is coming up and the boss says that's when the Owls are likely to work on a new deal for a player who is out of contract in the summer and no doubt attracting attention elsewhere.

"We see Matt's development," the manager said. " We see the progression. "He must try to work every day to come to good performances and we try to help him with that. He is a cool boy, a very good character. I don't have that feeling (the hype will affect him).

The Dutchman's next turn of phrase isn't one you hear often, but you know what he means.

"If I have that feeling, I would take him out of the team for a couple of games so that he stays in his shoes and not outside of his shoes."

Matt Penney gets away from Albert Adomah at Villa Park

Matt Penney gets away from Albert Adomah at Villa Park

Penney is a good kid and not the kind to get ahead of himself. He was so pleased to make his first Hillsborough start in August's 2-1 victory over Millwall that he had goosebumps beforehand and dropped a swearword into an interview afterwards. Nothing serious, just the giddiness of excited youth.

A physically-imposing, strong competitor and lovely, balanced runner with a great engine, he was superb at Villa, just as he had been at Reading. 

Even Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa is a fan of Adam Reach

He had a tough first half against Stoke and Tom Ince before finding his feet and producing one of the moments of the season with a 70-yard run which almost brought his first goal. On Friday, he stood up when Leeds piled on the second-half pressure and always tried to take the game back to the visitors.

Captain Tom Lees is as steady and dependable when he's interviewed as he is at the heart of the Wednesday defence. He's a good talker but not a man to get carried away, so this is as lyrical as he'll ever wax ...

"It's amazing how well Matt has done," the skipper said. "Normally, young players come into the side and play well for a couple of games but then their performances drop off.

"That hasn't happened with Matt. He's gone from a strength to strength. He's pretty quiet in the dressing room and around the training ground. I don't think he'll let it go to his head. Even if he did, the other players would stop it.

"Everyone can see the talent he has. It was difficult in the first half against Stoke but he came through that and was better in the second. He probably learned more in that first half than in any other game he's played in.

Owls 1 Leeds 1: Player ratings

"He looks like he has got a good career ahead of him."

@thevillalove1 got something else right in another tweet after Wednesday's September 22 heroics. “Fair play to their fans today as well. Probably the loudest we've had at VP.”

Every Owls Championship away trip in the opening two months of the 2018/19 campaign has been a sell-out.

Other September highlights included the impact of another youngster, defender Jordan Thorniley, the return to the scoresheet of striker Steven Fletcher and midfielder Barry Bannan's free-kick to earn a draw against Stoke. 

"Bannan can be a little magician," said Potters boss Gary Rowett. Such magic paled in comparison to the alchemy of Adam Reach and the winger's 30-yard volley to open the scoring against Leeds.

Against that, there has still been no league clean sheet, long-term injury absentees Gary Hooper, Kieran Lee and Sam Winnall have all suffered setbacks in their comebacks and centre-forward Atdhe Nuhiu has yet to hit the heights he reached towards the end of last season.

None of this really matters in the month that Hayley Kalinins, wife of Wednesday fitness coach Andy, finally lost her brave battle against cancer.

Reach went straight to the bench following his stunning strike against Leeds to raise a blue-and-white-striped jersey in tribute to the couple. A No 1 shirt and a No 1 gesture.

The Owls, in the midst of their toughest run of fixtures of the season, are in 12th place after a suffering only one defeat in their last seven matches and are only a point away from the play-off places. They're not perfect but they're probably exceeding expectations.

They head into October with a home game against West Brom on Wednesday and an an away test at Bristol City on Sunday to negotiate before two weeks off and the chance to keep Penney at the club that's in his heart.

To mangle Jos terminology, keep him inside his shoes and end the prospect of interest from outside.

@thevillalove1 knows it. Twitter and the rest of the world are catching on.

#goosebumps #propertalent.