Sheffield Wednesday 2 Brighton 0: Owls move closer to Wembley as Brighton suffer all the bad luck

Sheffield Wednesday's Kieran Lee, centre, celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Brighton & Hove Albion (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire).
Sheffield Wednesday's Kieran Lee, centre, celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Brighton & Hove Albion (Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire).
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DO NOT try to tell Sheffield Wednesday fans that Friday the 13th is a date with negative connotations.

Not after a glorious night that saw the Owls take a giant step towards a first trip to the rebuilt Wembley and, possibly, the Premier League.

Goals from Ross Wallace and Kieran Lee mean the Yorkshire club are firmly in control of this semi-final tie ahead of Monday night’s return leg on the south coast.

And providing Carlos Carvalhal’s men can finish the job at the Amex then Friday May 13, 2016, will surely go down as a red letter day in Wednesday’s history.

Not quite on a par with the famous ‘Boxing Day Massacre’ of 1979, of course. But certainly one to look back on with a mixture of pride and joy, as the home fans in a 34,260 crowd made clear while filing out into the night at the final whistle.

After acclaiming their heroes for a job well done against a team that had only missed automatic promotion on goal difference, the Wednesday fans sang of Wembley and the promise of ending that 16-year wait for top-flight football.

The anthem of the season, how ‘Carlos had a dream’, also got a lusty airing and, from an Owls perspective, the first leg had gone like a dream.

Two goals to the good and with Brighton suffering so many injuries that Chris Hughton’s men had to play the final half-hour with 10 men, this really is Wednesday’s to lose now.

Certainly, Carvalhal wore the look of a satisfied man on the touchline as his players returned the applause of the joyous home fans.

Not that this had been the case earlier in the night, as the Portuguese and the rest of Hillsborough reacted with disbelief to the decision to disallow what had looked like being Fernando Forestieri’s 16th goal of the season.

Nineteen minutes had been played when the Italian’s shot from 20 yards proved too much for David Stockdale in the Albion goal seemingly to put the hosts ahead.

A punt forward from Kieren Westwood had led to the opening that Forestieri had so gleefully taken before racing off to celebrate with the crowd.

As he did so, however, linesman Darren Crann raised a flag. Few noticed initially, which is why when referee Andre Marriner subsequently disallowed the ‘goal’ there was disbelief all around the famous old ground.

Even the 2,000 Brighton fans seemed confused as Carvalhal raged around his technical area, kicking a water bottle or two in anger for good measure, as the Wednesday players surrounded the officials.

The explanation those irate Owls received was that Forestieri had been, as Westwood launched the ball forward, stood offside.

And, by the time, Gary Hooper tried – and failed – to get a touch, the Italian was back onside.

Understandably, Crann wanted clarification before raising his flag and alerting Marriner to the offside, which is why there was such a delay before the correct call was made.

Up to that point, the game had raged from end to end and both sides had gone close.

For Wednesday, this involved a rasping 25-yard drive from Wallace that visiting goalkeeper David Stockdale did brilliantly to turn around a post.

Brighton, too, went close, Tomer Hemed heading against the outside of an upright and Sam Baldock being unfortunate to see his goalbound effort deflected narrowly wide off Glenn Loovens’s back.

Once Forestieri’s ‘goal’ had been disallowed, proceedings rather lost their way and it was clear that something special would be needed to revive the spark.

It came in the 45th minute via a sweet left-footed shot from Wallace that left the unsighted Stockdale sprawling across his line in a vain attempt to keep out the ball.

Wallace’s strike was the first in 354 minutes of action between these two sides.

It came shortly after Brighton had lost Tomer Hemed and Connor Goldson to injury.

That was bad enough for the Seagulls, but then Steve Sidwell had to be replaced four minutes into the second half, again through injury.

It meant when Anthony Knockaert was injured stretching to reach a through ball deep in home territory, and subsequently forced out of the action, the visitors were down to 10 men.

Carvalhal sensed the opportunity to put his side firmly in control and quickly replaced defensive midfielder Alex Lopez with striker Atdhe Nuhiu.

His adventure would ultimately be rewarded, though only after Jiri Skalak had spurned a decent opportunity by curling his free-kick over the crossbar after being scythed down by Daniel Pudil.

Kieran Lee doubled the Owls’ advantage 17 minutes from time, the midfielder spinning his marker expertly on the edge of the area to latch on to a Forestieri pass and fire beyond Stockdale.

The game was up for Albion, although Jiri Skalak did follow a free-kick that was curled over with an ambitous volley that this time gave Westwood more of a scare before also passing over the crossbar.

To the visitors’ credit, they kept going and worked extremely hard to prevent Wednesday grabbing a third goal that would have surely meant the tie was over.

As it is, Brighton will hope to get an early goal on Monday night and then see if play-off nerves can account for the Owls.

This being the play-offs, nothing can bee discounted. But Wednesday are well-placed to keep that dream alive of a Premier League return.

Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood; Hunt, Lees, Loovens, Pudil; Wallace (Matias 67), Lee, Lopez (Nuhiu 63), Bannan; Hooper (Joao 83), Forestieri. Unused substitutes: Wildsmith, Sasso, Hutchinson, Helan.

Brighton & Hove Albion: Stockdale; Bruno, Goldson (Rosenior 39), Greer, Bong; Knockaert, Sidwell (Towell 49), Kayal, Skalak; Baldock, Hemed (Wilson 39). Unused substitutes: Maenpaa, Calderon, Murphy, LuaLua.

Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)..