HULL CITY and Sheffield Wednesday lock horns at Wembley Stadium on Saturday with the third and final promotion place to the riches on offer in the Premier League on offer.
Both meetings during the regular season produced a stalemate, including a 1-1 draw at the KC Stadium on Saturday, October 17.
Read the match report and post-match reaction below as well as view the extended highlights from that game.
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY are a club that have crossed Steve Bruce’s path many times in a football career that stretches back more than 35 years.
Perhaps most famously of all, it was the Owls against whom the former defender scored two late goals to keep Manchester United on course for their first Premier League title in 1993.
That dramatic victory at Old Trafford set the tone for many of his subsequent tussles with Wednesday, who before the weekend draw with Hull City had been beaten by a Bruce side on all four of his previous visits to Hillsborough as a manager.
Throw in the fact that Bruce started his managerial career across the Steel City at Bramall Lane and the 54-year-old is well placed to judge where the Owls are at as a club right now.
“This is a club that I would say is back on the mend,” enthused Bruce when speaking to The Yorkshire Post in the wake of Abel Hernandez ensuring honours ended even in S6 by cancelling out Fernando Forestieri’s first-half opener.
“From what I saw, the supporters are enthused again. They seem up for it. There is a feeling around the place that Sheffield Wednesday could be back on the march.
“This is arguably the best Sheffield Wednesday team I have seen over the last few years. They are a handful and they have an impressive coach (Carlos Carvalhal).
“The fans can see that and they now have something to shout about again. It is good to see. I have been in and around the area for a long, long time. It is good to see a club like this moving in the right direction.”
Bruce’s belief that Wednesday are a club on the up once again is well placed. Dejphon Chansiri’s millions have helped bring proven quality to the squad in the form of Forestieri, Barry Bannan and Michael Turner since the start of the season.
Lucas Joao is another recent arrival with immense promise, as the Portuguese striker proved with a powerful display against the Tigers, while Marco Matias has already scored what will surely prove to be the Championship’s goal of the season in Wednesday colours during August’s derby draw at Leeds United.
Against the Tigers, however, perhaps the best illustration of what Carlos Carvalhal is building at Hillsborough came via the performance of Sam Hutchinson.
Signed initially on loan last February from Chelsea before making the move permanent in the summer, the 26-year-old has become as well known for his tendency to incur the wrath of officials as anything else.
Sure enough, Hutchinson was yellow-carded for the seventh time this season following a brutal challenge on Hernandez.
That apart, though, he was outstanding. Constantly breaking up Hull’s attacking play and then using the ball intelligently, Hutchinson was the outstanding performer in a midfield tussle that also featured three internationals in Mohamed Diame, Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone.
He was simply everywhere, perhaps the best illustration of his tireless energy and work-rate coming in the ‘95th’ minute when Ahmed Elmohamady threatened to launch one last Tigers attack down the right flank only for Hutchinson to suddenly appear and halt the Egyptian’s run.
It ensured an all-Yorkshire encounter that took some time to get going ended with the sides claiming a point apiece.
Wednesday had been the better side in the first half and, but for some wasteful finishing, would surely have led by more than just Forestieri’s 28th-minute strike.
That opener came courtesy of a deft header from Tom Lees that the Italian, being played onside by both Curtis Davies and Elmohamady, pounced upon in impressive fashion.
Had Bannan or Lees then taken subsequent gilt-edged chances the Owls could have been out of sight at the interval.
As it was, Hull were able to cancel out Forestieri’s goal with one of their own just six minutes after the restart.
Livermore, Hull’s most dangerous threat from midfield, claimed the assist with a slide-rule pass to Hernandez, who finished from eight yards. Chuba Akpom also played a big part with a dart down the right flank and cross that came just 30 seconds or so after he had been brought on to replace the ineffective Diame.
Hernandez’s strike saw the impetus swing back towards the Tigers and Westwood had to get down smartly to keep out a header from the Uruguayan before Sam Clucas shot just wide.
Andrew Robertson also fired over before the left-back’s blushes were spared at the other end by a stunning reflex save from Allan McGregor that prevented a bizarre own goal.
Had that gone in, Wednesday would have made it five wins in a row. However, Forestieri insists an important marker was laid down against Hull.
“We are showing everyone we can play against the big teams with a result like this,” said the £3m capture from Watford. “We have a lot of quality and talent in the side with some good young players. Against Hull, we played very well and did everything the coach told us.
“I am happy personally because, as a team, we left everything out there on the pitch. I am happy to be here.
“I was a little sad to leave London but everyone here has supported me and this has helped me to settle. I feel like this is my family. I am building a good relationship with the fans and I was happy with my goal. But I am also sad because it only earned us one point, not the full three. That is why we have mixed emotions.”