NICKNAMED ‘The Little General’ at his previous club VfB Stuttgart, Jos Luhukay will have been wise enough to acknowledge that he was potentially staring down the barrel should Sheffield Wednesday have been beaten last night.
Fortunately on Lancashire Day, of all occasions, there was considerable relief for this particular part of Yorkshire as the Owls and their embattled head coach avoided a hugely damaging fourth consecutive league defeat at Hillsborough.
That last occurred back in December 2012 when the pressure was heaped upon the shoulders of former Owls manager Dave Jones in the process.
Back then, the Wednesday board held firm and kept faith with the Liverpudlian and like Jones, Luhukay is determined to tough it out.
Time will tell whether the Dutchman succeeds, but at least a drama did not descend into a full-blown crisis last night as the Owls secured their first league win in seven matches to halt their slide.
On an evening which pitted two confidence-sapped teams together in the midst of alarming runs of form, winning ugly represented winter fuel and was always likely to be gratefully received.
Given that this Roses occasion pitted together a home side who had not picked up points on home soil since August 25 and a Wanderers outfit whose last away league success arrived seven days prior to that, the odds on an entertaining spectacle were long.Leon Wobschall
Playing in front of their lowest Championship attendance since April 2016, Wednesday’s performance displayed plenty of imperfections.
It was the sort of trying, far from straightforward night in front of a subdued home crowd that Wednesdayites had thought that the club had banished to the history books during Dejphon Chansiri’s eventful first couple of full seasons in charge in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
It is a case of needs-must and captain Tom Lees’ 57th-minute header from Barry Bannan’s corner which settled the issue was priceless.
It also promised to be an evening where steeliness, organisation and character would be prized assets, with Wednesday starting with 10 of the side who battled stoically against the elements from the first whistle across the city 18 nights earlier.
Unfortunately, in a further rewind to events at Bramall Lane, the Owls created next to nothing in the first half, which was rather more lamentable against a struggling Bolton.
Given that this Roses occasion pitted together a home side who had not picked up points on home soil since August 25 and a Wanderers outfit whose last away league success arrived seven days prior to that, the odds on an entertaining spectacle were long.
And so it was borne out in a quite awful first period lacking in tempo, method and belief from both sides, more especially Wednesday.
Bolton were entitled to be the happier, with Wednesday, by comparison, producing a sterile opening 45 minutes where mistakes in possession were commonplace.
That Wednesday’s two best players in Adam Reach and Bannan both contributed to the malaise summed it all up.
Played out amid an understandably flat atmosphere, the action was similarly lifeless with a couple of potshots from Bannan and an Steven Fletcher effort which drifted wide amounting to the sum total of Wednesday’s efforts.
Sammy Ameobi hinted at being the one player to perhaps raise himself above the mediocrity, with the Wanderers winger going as close as anyone with a piledriver from distance which was held by Cameron Dawson.
The Owls goalkeeper also had to be alert to turn away a dangerous centre from Ameobi later on in the half, which almost crept inside the far corner.
The sight of Fernando Forestieri coming on at the start of the second half at least injected home fans with a much-needed semblance of hope and how Wednesday required it.
Reach’s clever dink which flashed just wide was a start and the urgency improved from the Owls, if not necessarily the quality.
Creditably, Wednesday persevered and eventually got their rewards.
After a neat exchange with Forestieri, Bannan saw his goalbound shot blocked by former Owls defender Mark Beevers and, from the Scot’s decisive inswinging corner, Lees powered home a unstoppable downward header.
With just two points to their credit from their previous eight games, it was another bitter development for Wanderers.
None of their striking pool had scored since mid-September and it was easy to see why, summed up by forward Clayton Donaldson lifting their best second-half chance horribly over.
The weak effort from the former Sheffield United frontman brought a rare moment of joy for home fans on an evening when there was not much to laugh about.
Reach nearly settled it with a late drive which flashed into the side-netting.
Sheffield Wednesday: Dawson; Baker, Lees, Hector, Thorniley; Pelupessey, Bannan, Reach, Penney (Forestieri 45); Matias (Joao 86), Fletcher (Nuhiu 35). Unused substitutes: Wildsmith, Fox, Pudil, Onomah.
Bolton Wanderers: Alnwick; Olkowski (Donaldson 69), Hobbs, Beevers, Taylor; WIlliams, Wilson (Buckley 83), Lowe; Ameobi, Magennis (Doidge 68), Wildschut. Unused substitutes: Matthews, Vela, Wheater, Grounds.
Referee: G Ward (Surrey).