The cleanest of sheets... - Bailey Peacock-Farrell the hero as Sheffield Wednesday reclaim bragging rights from Rotherham United
It wasn’t pretty, and it definitely felt like a local derby, but after a the blood and guts approach from both teams at the New York Stadium, Sheffield Wednesday reclaimed bragging rights.
The first half was breathless, but it was Rotherham United asking all the questions even if Peacock-Farrell’s work was limited to dealing with crosses for the most part.
Wednesday did have a couple of chances of their own though, with Florian Kamberi smashing over the bar following a mazy run into the box from Callum Paterson, and the Albanian international also ended up having a shot blocked after being found by Hunt.
Lewis Wing, against his former club, didn’t manage to show the same sort of threat that he has done in previous games, while Massimo Luongo – on his first start of 2021 – grew into the game as he showed once again that he’s not afraid to get stuck in, despite his recent injury history.
Defensively, it was BPF, along with Iorfa and Dunkley, that dealt with pretty everything thrown at Wednesday aerially, fending off wave after wave of attacks from the Millers as the hosts continued to turn the screw.
And they should’ve been leading at half time. They should’ve been, but the Owls’ goalkeeper had a different idea.
Kieran Sadlier stepped up to the plate after Joshua Kayode had been brought down in the box by Paterson, and he didn’t think twice as he rifled a shot to the right of Peacock-Farrell… It wasn’t ‘a good height’, it was ‘hit too softly’, it was just a big, strong hand from the SWFC stopper that sent it flying over the bar. Much to the joy of the Wednesdayites behind him.
There was another cheer a few seconds later as he confidently plucked the subsequent corner out of the air – and it’s safe to say he’s got their seal of approval now.
It felt like that save could turn the tide, and it certainly felt that way as the second stanza began.
Wednesday looked more at it, looked sharper, and Paterson stepped up to make amends for his penalty foul – perfectly timing a run before using his strength and power to beat his man and put it on a plate from Kamberi - who couldn’t miss, and sent the Owls fans into raptures behind the goal. All felt well with the world.
But while Wednesday had the lead, the tide hadn’t turned. Rotherham kept asking questions, kept probing, and plenty was demanded of the visitors’ backline. Iorfa and Dunkley had to be strong, Luongo was called upon in his role in defensive midfield many a time, and Paul Warne’s never-say-die attitude was evident in his troops.
It was Luongo’s quick thinking that led to the second goal, even though it was probably Rotherham’s Viktor Johansson who will unfortunately claim the assist after spilling Dennis Adeniran’s tame effort – giving poacher Lee Gregory the chance to stab it home. He doesn’t miss those.
It was, in fairness, probably harsh on the Millers in the end. They were the aggressors for most of the game and had the bulk of the possession – but Moore won’t mind.
Sheffield Wednesday are top of League One.