THERE was a juncture in Sheffield Wednesday’s win over Millwall when it seemed inevitable what was about to occur.
The Owls had just conceded a 13th-minute equaliser, completely against the run of play.
As soon as Tom Elliott’s prodded effort crossed the line to cancel out Adam Reach’s early strike, the air inside Hillsborough was suddenly filled with self-doubt.
It was a familiar feeling given the side’s recent struggles. After all, Wednesday were in the midst of the worst run of form since Carlos Carvalhal took the helm in the summer of 2015.
Just one win in their last seven had left the Owls faithful to question the Portuguese.
But rather than feel sorry for themselves, Wednesday’s players dug in and delivered a performance that can certainly be filed under ‘gritty’. Credit, too, has to go to the supporters for their reaction to the Millwall equaliser. S6 was not a hive of boos and in-fighting, as has been the case recently. The fans got behind their side and it paid off.
We had to really grind it out. We stayed together as a unit and we’re delighted that we held on for the win.Sheffield Wednesday’s Liam Palmer
After withstanding a peppering of their goal by the Lions, Carvalhal’s men went on the front foot.
The boil was lanced in the 43rd minute when Jordan Rhodes nodded home what proved to be the winning goal. Defender Liam Palmer believes the victory shows that the players are all in it together.
He believes the knowledgeable Hillsborough faithful played their part in keeping morale high.
“The fans really got behind us,” Palmer told The Yorkshire Post. “I think they felt that we were playing quite well at the time when Millwall scored. We just got caught on the break. But we responded in the right way and as quickly as we could.
“We had to really grind it out and the boys at the back handled Millwall well because they were direct. We stayed together as a unit and we’re delighted that we held on for the win.”
Palmer hopes that the victory against the South Londoners will also prove a watershed moment for him personally. The 26-year-old’s last start came in the EFL Cup reverse at Bolton in August and he has had to wait a long time to get his chance again.
The academy graduate was one of five changes made by Carvalhal on Tuesday, and Palmer believes that the newcomers certainly gave the manager something to think about when selecting his side for Saturday’s Championship trip to Aston Villa.
“It was great to be back personally,” said Palmer. “It was my first start in the last 11 games. I was just trying to get as much out of the match as I possibly could. I wanted to give as much to the team.
“Hopefully, even though it was a scrappy win, it can give us that momentum. There’s confidence from the players that have all come in. There’s competition in each position and it’s been like that for a while now.
“We try and push each other as a team. Hopefully, that bodes well for the future.”
Another player who has been on the fringes lately is match-winner Rhodes, who is finally off the mark as a permanent Owls player.
Palmer says his peers were delighted for the former Middlesborough and Huddersfield Town frontman, who has had plenty of criticism levelled at him since his sizeable summer transfer.
Palmer added: “When Jordan got his goal you could see everyone was delighted for him. If he gets a chance, then he’ll score.
“It’s just that confidence side to it. Once he got off the mark, you could see that it raised his game. Hopefully, there’s more to come from him now.”