Callum Paterson and Sheffield Wednesday taking direct route to League One promotion

Callum Paterson had only scored two goals all season for Sheffield Wednesday heading into February.

Now the Owls striker has doubled that tally in a week, following up his goal against Doncaster Rovers with the second in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Charlton Athletic at Hillsborough.

Paterson, a victim of being a utility player who is comfortable in most positions on the pitch – “goalkeeper is the only position I have not played” – freely admits his confidence in front of goal had taken a knock.

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Before Doncaster, the Scotland striker’s last goal came on October 2, four months previously.

All smiles: Sheffield Wednesday striker Callum Paterson celebrates netting the Owls’ second goal against Charlton Athletic at Hillsborough. (Picture: Steve Ellis)

And while the 27-year-old’s goal at Rovers was reward for power and perseverance – he followed up his own header to nudge the ball over the line – Saturday’s effort was one all strikers love, a predatory tap-in from close range.

“I have done that a few times, don’t score for five or six then score two,” said Paterson. “It’s disappointing in that sense, but nice that it gives me a platform to try and get a run of goals.

“It’s nice to score, but it’s nice to put a run together for myself and my confidence.

“I kicked myself after the Rotherham game. I went through, and the old me would have taken the shot, but I tried to square it to (Nathaniel) Mendez-Laing, and it just didn’t work out.

George Byers heads home the first goal for the Owls against Charlton (Picture: Steve Ellis)

“From my own personal view, that was down to confidence, but now I have scored a couple of goals, I go back to that chance and think ‘I am hitting that every day of the week’.

“My goal (against Charlton) was a little tap-in, but it was a good team build-up and the cross in. A few of us went in the box for the tap-in and thankfully it was me. It’s been a while but I have scored a couple of goals, so happy with that.”

With Josh Windass and Lee Gregory both out injured, Paterson’s goals are certainly welcome.

Wednesday’s run of six wins from their last seven games owes much to the new midfield combination of Barry Bannan, Massimo Luongo and George Byers – who headed the Owls in front after just five minutes against Charlton for his fourth goal in Wednesday colours – plus the January arrival of centre-half Jordan Storey to strengthen a depleted back line.

Celebrations from Wednesday goalscorer George Byers. (Picture: Steve Ellis)

But if Wednesday are to hold on to a top-six spot – they are currently sixth with two games in hand on the three teams immediately above them – they are going to need goals from their forward line.

Against Charlton, the Owls were rewarded for a frenetic start – three corners inside the opening two minutes – when Bannan’s free-kick was headed in by on-loan midfielder Byers.

Bannan curled a long-range effort wide, before Marvin Johnson saw his fierce effort deflected wide. But the second goal which Wednesday’s dominance deserved came just before half-time. Johnson, such a threat from left wing-back, like Jack Hunt on the opposite flank, escaped his marker before supplying a lovely low cross for Paterson to pounce on in front of the Kop.

Charlton failed to create any serious chances, their best opportunity to pull a goal back came when Johnson gifted possession to Mason Burstow, but the striker – maybe surprised to finally get a glimpse of goal – shot straight at Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

Wednesday had their chances to add to their tally in the second half, but Johnson was thwarted by an excellent block by Chris Gunter, while Luongo failed to beat goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray when one-on-one.

Victory means the Owls have kept five clean sheets in their last seven games – conceding just three goals in 630 minutes – ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Burton Albion to Hillsborough.

Paterson revealed a change in tactics from manager Darren Moore – opting for a more direct approach – is behind the club’s upturn in fortunes.

“We have always had the confidence (to earn promotion). It’s nice to put a run together,” he said. “The target at the start of the season was to get promoted, whether that be via the play-offs, or top two. As long as the club is back in the Championship that’s our job done.

“We are disappointed with the position we are in, we didn’t want to be there at the start of the season, but we are there or thereabouts with a couple of games in hand, so it’s a massive little position for us.

“At the start of the season, it was more Tiki-taka, trying to build all the way up to the final product. Now we have started to change it up, people expect us to pass, pass, pass all the way to the goal.

“Now we have started to put crosses in deeper, at all opportunities, chances to score goals and it’s massive for me, Saido (Berahimo) and all the other strikers to get involved.”

Sheffield Wednesday: Peacock-Farrell, Storey, Hutchinson, Palmer, Hunt (Gibson 78), Byers, Luongo, Bannan (Sow 90), Johnson (Brennan 84), Paterson, Berahino (Kamberi 71). Unused substitutes: Brown, Iorfa, Wildsmith.

Charlton: MacGillivray, Gunter, Lavelle, Famewo, Matthews (Jaiyesimi 30), Gilbey (Fraser 70), Dobson, Morgan (Stockley 46), Purrington, Burstow (Leko 60), Lee. Unused substitutes: Pearce, John, Harness.

Referee: O Langford (W Midlands).