Jordan Rhodes smiling again as Sheffield Wednesday turn the tables on Barnsley

THE late Norris McWhirter – co-founder of the Guinness Book of Records – may not have been a Barnsley supporter.

Owls hero: Match-winner Jordan Rhodes is congratulated by Barry Bannan. Piictures: Simon Hulme

But as someone with a zeal for statistics, he would have appreciated the Reds’ recent feats had he still been around.

Nine wins in 10 league games before Saturday, their highest second-tier points tally since 1999-2000 and longest unbeaten run at this level since 2001-02.

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Not to mention a club record equalling sequence of five successive away wins and more milestones hit in a remarkable turn of events under Valerien Ismael.

Welcome to the derby: Barmsley's American striker Daryl Dike is challenged by Julian Borner.

As another much-loved former TV celebrity in the shape of the late Roy Castle used to sing at the end of his hit show Record Breakers, dedication is what you need.

Which brings us nicely onto Sheffield Wednesday striker Jordan Rhodes.

Just David Nugent, Billy Sharp and Ross McCormack have found the net more times in the Championship than the 30-year-old, now within single digits of being the leader in his own right after taking his tally up to 115 by poaching goals either side of half-time and rewinding to happier times.

More importantly in the here and now, the forward – whose deal runs out in June with old club Huddersfield Town interested – looks to be the Owls’ best hope of redemption from relegation. Maybe the only hope.

In his torrid time at S6, three goals in a week represents nourishment after a famine. While others have doubted and mocked him, he has admirably dug in.

Rhodes also seems to have a manager who trusts him in Darren Moore, finally afforded satisfaction after his first win as Owls chief at the fifth time of asking.

Rhodes said: “I am just enjoying every minute of it and playing football with a smile on my face.

“Me and the manager have known each other from my time at Blackburn. He knows what qualities I bring and strengths and weaknesses and all the messages he has brought in have been really positive and everyone is trying their best for each other.”

On a rewarding day at a place he knows well in Oakwell, Rhodes, whose father Andy played for the Reds in the Eighties, added: “I was here as a schoolboy from the ages of nine to 15, so scoring in a Barnsley v Wednesday is fulfilling a bit of a childhood dream there.”

For all the recent exhilarating highs for Barnsley, this Oakwell result had probably been coming.

Only a moment of blockbusting brilliance from Daryl Dike secured three points in the recent win over Birmingham and the Reds were maybe lucky to draw their last game here against Derby when Graeme Shinnie’s late shot hit the inside of the post and somehow stayed out.

After an epic journey since February, the petrol light was on.

It was a game too far for some who played less than 72 hours earlier at Wycombe, the Reds’ second long road trip in a week.

The international break looks well timed from a Barnsley perspective, while it will provide quality time for Moore before April determines the Owls’ fate.

Reds captain Alex Mowatt said: “We have won a lot of games and it has been fun and where we are in the table is great. This was one of those games and we have to just move on now.

“I didn’t think there was much in it. Our mistakes cost us goals.”

That sloppiness was seen in Rhodes’s opener as Barry Bannan – who won his midfield battle with Mowatt – was allowed to send over a dangerous cross and Rhodes ghosted in between form defenders Michal Helik and Mads Andersen to clinically head in.

Earlier, Rhodes should have capitalised after Brad Collins’s ‘fresh air’ clearance from Julian Borner’s punt forward. With the Reds goalkeeper stranded, he tried to steer the ball in with the outside of his foot and it sailed wide.

But Rhodes would not be denied and his second – a tap-in – was laid on a plate by Josh Windass, sent clear after Liam Palmer seized on Callum Styles’s error.

At the other end, despite an at times hesitant display from Joe Wildsmith – in for Keiren Westwood who suffered an unspecified injury in the warm-up – Barnsley lacked the wit to cash in.

Aside from the drive of Dike, who again showed what a big player he has rapidly become for Barnsley in every sense – he had two penalty appeals turned down – the hosts had little else. Other leaders were subdued.

As is his wont, Ismael did not dither and made three interval changes.

One substitute in Carlton Morris set up a frantic finish when his shot on the turn deflected in off Tom Lees, but this was not Barnsley’s day for once.

You got that impression from early on when Michael Sollbauer fired over a good early chance.

Wednesday regrouped from the Westwood blow and their shape and plan was spot on.

A 3-1-4-2 formation, with Joel Pelupessy doing all the ugly stuff in front of the defence and Callum Patterson adding midfield ballast provided a solid platform.

The Owls won battles – with Ozase Urhoghide in good order at the back in particular – and most of the football came from them, led by Bannan, and not Barnsley.

Given such a notable result, it would be a shame to waste it. Beat Barnsley and you can beat anyone. This is the Championship after all. Strange things happen.

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