Ten-man Sheffield Wednesday slump to defeat after first-half horror show

Sheffield Wednesday are proving to be a real Jekyll and Hyde team - after collapsing in a 5-0 home defeat to Blackburn Rovers.
Australian referee Jarred Gillett sends off the Owls' Australian Massimo Luongo. Pic Steve EllisAustralian referee Jarred Gillett sends off the Owls' Australian Massimo Luongo. Pic Steve Ellis
Australian referee Jarred Gillett sends off the Owls' Australian Massimo Luongo. Pic Steve Ellis

Fans turned up at Hillsborough today wondering which side would kick-off against Rovers.

The one which slumped to three defeats in a week, at Christmas, or the outfit which knocked Premier League Brighton out of the FA Cup and beat then Championship leaders Leeds United at Elland Road to go sixth in the table.

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Unfortunately, for Owls supporters it proved to be the former, as they crumbled in a shocking opening 45 minutes.

Owls goalkeeper Cameron DawsonOwls goalkeeper Cameron Dawson
Owls goalkeeper Cameron Dawson

Garry Monk, like all managers, strive for consistency but what Wednesday served up here was a million miles away from their displays at Brighton and Leeds.

Three soft goals conceded in the opening 45 minutes – two from Lewis Holtby and a Cameron Dawson own goal - and down to 10 men after midfielder Massimo Luongo was shown a straight red card, meant the Owls were on their way to a third successive defeat at Hillsborough.

Luongo spoke before the game, about how opposition teams hated playing against the “horrible” Owls, but the Australian would probably have to re-evaluate that assessment after this horror show.

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Second-half goals from Darragh Lenihan and Sam Gallagher only rubbed salt into Wednesday’s wounds.

The Owls gave a Hillsborough debut to teenager Osaze Urhoghide, after the right-back impressed in wins at Brighton and Leeds.

It was the same starting XI who won 2-0 at Elland Road, with Tom Lees – the Wednesday skipper back after illness – having to settle for a place on the bench.

But the visitors took the lead on 19 minutes, Adam Armstrong’s shot parried away by Cameron Dawson and Holtby was first to react as he tucked away the loose ball.

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It got worse for the Owls four minutes later, midfielder Luongo shown a straight red card for a tackle on Lewis Travis.

If the home supporters needed any further evidence it was not going to be their afternoon, they suffered a freak own goal on 35 minutes.

Dawson produced a finger-tip save to push Travis’s long-range strike onto the post.

But the ball rebounded into play, hit Dawson on the back, and rolled agonisingly over the line.

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Even with 11 men, Wednesday had been second best, and Monk responded by dragging Winnall off for Atdhe Nuhiu.

But it was like tinkering with the deckchairs on the Titanic. This was an opening 45 minutes which lacked passion, discipline and work-rate – the qualities which Monk has founded this team on.

And it was no surprise when Blackburn added a third, in first-half stoppage time, Holtby getting the final touch to scramble the ball over the line.

Monk reacted by making his final two substitutions at half-time, Lees and Sam Hutchinson coming on for Urhoghide and Kieran Lee.

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It made little difference. Two minutes after the restart, Darragh Lenihan volleyed into the roof of the net – and at 4-0, large sections of Owls fans in the 23,504 crowd had seen enough as they left the stadium.

Bannan created a glimpse of goal for Hutchinson, but he fired into the Kop. It was that sort of afternoon.

Dawson, like most of his team-mates, had an afternoon to forget, but the goalkeeper did well to prevent Blackburn netting a fifth, denying Armstrong.

The respite was temporary, though, Gallagher smashing home in stoppage time to complete a miserable afternoon at Hillsborough.