Rochdale 0 Sheffield Wednesday 2 - Garry Monk defends making 11 changes in Owls victory
The Owls – with Garry Monk having made 11 changes from the team which beat Cardiff City away in the Championship[ on Saturday – went closest to scoring in a low key first half, Alex Hunt’s overhead kick headed off the line by Eoghan O’Connell.
The visitors started the second half with real purpose. Rochdale goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, on loan from Manchester City, kept out Hunt’s 20-yard drive.
Julian Borner’s delivery from the left picked out Kachunga and his glancing header struck the post, the Owls forcing the loose ball into the net only to be deemed offside by the linesman’s raised flag.
Monk’s men struck the opening goal in the 52nd minute.Liam Palmer had time and space to deliver an inviting cross towards the edge of the six-yard area where Kachunga – the former Huddersfield Town forward making his full debut – swooped to guide a powerful header beyond Bazunu.
Wednesday went close to a second when Adam Reach fired against the crossbar, and Windass fired wide, before victory was wrapped up in the 87th minute as substitute Windass blasted into the roof of the net.
Owls boss Monk felt his decision to make 11 changes was fully justified.
“I made 11 changes but apart from a couple they were all first-team players, it’s a first-team squad so in terms of changes I had no worries,” he said.
“I had to be very mindful of the energy we used on Saturday and the fact it was important to get minutes into these players because the squad is going to be needed.
“It was an excellent performance overall. I like Rochdale and the way they play and we knew they would test our shape. We set out to press them and I felt when we stepped it up in the second half our fitness levels really started to show with the goals and the chances we created.
“This is only our fifth week back, normally this would be pre-season so it was the first 90 minutes for a lot of the lads but the energy and fitness showed through. We could have scored more but for a few good saves and a lick of paint.”
Rochdale: Bazunu, O’Connell, Amankwah, McNulty, Keohane, Baah (Dooley 51), Lund (Ryan 71), Morley, Rathbone, Newby (Tavares 80), Done. Unused substitutes: Lynch, Bradley, Brierley, Dunne.
Sheff Wed: Wildsmith, Brennan (Iorfa 80), Shaw, Borner, Palmer, Dele-Bashiru, Pelupessy (Grant 89), Hunt, Odubajo, Reach, Kachunga (Windass 70). Unused substitutes: Penney, Dawson, Hagan, Waldock.
Referee: S Stockbridge (Tyne & Wear).
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