Sheffield Wednesday 1 Fulham 2: ‘We have 25 per cent chance’ insists Carvalhal after final day defeat leaves Owls facing Huddersfield Town in play-offs

Sheffield Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal made ten changes to the Owls team (Picture: Steve Ellis)
Sheffield Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal made ten changes to the Owls team (Picture: Steve Ellis)
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A STRIKE TEN MINUTES from time credited to two-goal Neeskens Kebano earned Fulham the points and their first win in Sheffield since April 1985 - at the expense of ten-man Sheffield Wednesday.

The Owls had taken an early lead, courtesy of Sam Winnall, but that was cancelled out by Kebano in the 25th minute, with the hosts suffering a further blow just before the break when Marco Matias was dismissed for an ugly challenge on Sone Aluko.

Fulham dominated on the restart and found a winner when Lucas Piazon’s free-kick was glanced over the line by Kebano with David Jones in close proximity as a much-changed Wednesday line-up ended the regular season with a loss ahead of an all-Yorkshire Championship play-off semi-final with Huddersfield Town.

Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal, whose side lost to Hull in the play-off final last year, said: “We achieved more points than last season - seven more, I think.

“Last season we finished sixth, this season we arrive in fourth position.

“We were underdogs last year but this season it is more balanced because the table doesn’t lie. There is a small points difference, so we will have a 25 per cent chance this season.

“It will be very hard to beat Huddersfield. The count is now zero, now everything starts from zero. All the four teams have a good quality of football.”

Wednesday, who made ten changes from the side who lined up against Ipswich Town last weekend, secured an early breakthrough in a low-key first half after just nine minutes.

Kieran Lee, the sole survivor from the side who started at Portman Road, dispossessed Tomas Kalas and slipped in Winnall, who coolly fired a low drive past Marcus Bettinelli.

It was the ideal start for a much-changed Owls line-up, but they failed to build on it with Fulham assuming the ascendancy for much of the first period.

It yielded a leveller on 25 minutes when Denis Odoi got away down the right and his pull-back was dispatched by Neeskens Kebano, whose point-blank effort flew past Joe Wildsmith, making his first Hillsborough start since January 2016.

Soon after, Chris Martin headed wide while Lucas Piazon saw a low shot fly just off target for the Cottagers.

In the lead-up to the break, Odoi got in the way of a goalbound volley from Winnall following Jordan Rhodes’ centre before the hosts were reduced to ten men on the stroke of half-time when Matias, making his first start at Hillsborough since August 2015, cynically brought down Sone Aluko from behind with a poor challenge.

Fulham made the most of their numerical advantage on the restart and went desperately close to taking the lead early on when Scott Malone’s close-range effort shuddered the woodwork with Wednesday stretched.

Wildsmith then denied the lively Malone before Kebano saw his effort fly wide after Sam Hutchinson did well to block Cairney’s effort, with the visitors displaying all the threats.

An excellent covering block by Daniel Fox then got in the way of a goalbound strike from substitute Floyd Ayite before the Owls conjured a rare chance at the other end with Vincent Sasso firing straight at Bettinelli when well placed following Hutchinson’s cut back.

Kebano then forged the breakthrough and went close to sealing his hat-trick late on with his effort tipped onto the bar by Joe Wildsmith.

Sheffield Wednesday: Wildsmith; Palmer, Sasso, Semedo, Fox; Matias, Hutchinson (Emanuelson 74), Jones, Lee (Buckley 61); Winnall, Rhodes (Nuhiu 77). Substitutes unused: Dawson, Reach, Hunt, Bannan, Nuhiu.

Fulham: Bettinelli; Odioi, Kalas (Fredericks 68), Ream, Malone; Piazon, McDonald; Aluko (Ayite 61), Cairney (Parker 78), Kebano; Martin. Substitutes unused: Button, Cyriac, Johansen, Sessegnon.

Referee: G Scott (Oxon).

Attendance: 33,681.