Bournemouth 2 Sheffield Weds 4: Gray welcomes Best’s impact off the bench

Sheffield Wednesday's Leon Best.

Sheffield Wednesday's Leon Best.

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Sheffield Wednesday manager Stuart Gray hailed substitute Leon Best for coming off the bench to inspire his side to a win at play-off chasing Bournemouth.

Best scored one goal and made another to lead Wednesday to a late smash-and-grab victory which mathematically sealed their Championship survival for another season.

The Owls twice took the lead through goals from Atdhe Nuhiu and Sam Hutchinson – who was later sent off – but Bournemouth hit back through Marc Pugh and Yann Kermorgant.

Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland made a string of saves before Best and Chris Maguire snatched the points with goals in a frantic final 10 minutes.

Gray said: “Leon did ever so well. He followed up after Michail Antonio had hit the bar and got his just deserts and then he set up Chris Maguire for the fourth with a perfect pass. You want your substitutes to make an impact and Leon did that.

“I am so proud of the players. It may seem like an upset, but I thought we deserved it.

“We knew this would be a difficult place to come because Bournemouth have won the majority of their home games and we showed unbelievable character after going to 10 men.

“We went into the last game of last season looking over our shoulders so it will be nice to go into the last three without having any pressure.”

Bournemouth fans among a sell-out crowd were stunned when Nuhiu rifled home from the edge of the penalty area. The home side drew level 14 minutes before half-time when Lewis Grabban sprinted past three defenders before crossing for Pugh to head beyond Kirkland.

But the Cherries’ joy lasted just three minutes until Chelsea loanee Hutchinson headed Wednesday back in front with his first goal for the club after a long throw from Antonio had caused confusion in the box.

There was nothing former Liverpool stopper Kirkland could do to prevent Kermorgant heading Bournemouth back on terms for a second time after 57 minutes.

Hutchinson was shown a second yellow card for a late lunge on Kermorgant, but Best struck in the 87th minute and Maguire made it 4-2 in stoppage time, tapping in Best’s centre.

Bournemouth: Camp, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Harte (Smith 70), Ritchie (Fraser 62), O’Kane, Surman, Pugh (Pitman 79), Grabban, Kermorgant. Unused substitutes: Allsop, MacDonald, Ward, Rantie.

Sheffield Wednesday: Kirkland, Buxton (Palmer 52), Onyewu, Llera, Mattock, Maguire,Lee, Antonio, Hutchinson, Helan (Coke 66), Nuhiu (Best 73). Unused substitutes: Taylor, Lavery, Martinez, Afobe.

Referee: T Robinson (West Sussex).

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