Sheffield Wednesday 2 Morecambe 0: No Darren Moore, but Wednesday cope with disruption to triumph again at home

WITH all due respect to Morecambe - who are admirably punching above their weight in League One - this was a game that Sheffield Wednesday should be winning if they are going to make themselves heard towards the top of the table when it counts. No excuses.

On a night which was not easy due to some unwanted pre-match disruption - and some issues when the action got underway in a game that saw recent signing Harlee Dean succumb to injury alongside Fisayo Dele-Bashiru and later Josh Windass - Wednesday did just that.

Late on, it was more edgy than it should have been against a limited Morecambe side who brought little to the party on their first ever visit to Hillsborough.

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Fortunately, a deflected strike to crown a very encouraging display from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing provided the two-goal buffer that they were certainly worthy of and it might just have cheered up Darren Moore in the process.

Sheffield Wednesday's Josh Windass gets away from Morecambe's Ryan McLaughlin at Hillsborough.

The Wednesday manager missed the game after testing positive for Covid - and the devout hope is that he does not suffer as much as he did when he contracted it last spring, when it affected him pretty badly.

On the pitch, especially on home soil, Wednesday are certainly in robust health. Their total of points in front of their own supporters this season is now up to 28, which has now eclipsed last season's total.

They are also without a league defeat at S6 in nine matches. It will provide the foundation of any push into the division's business positions and they are partway through an inviting run of five games out of six at Hillsborough. Talk about timing

Seasoned Wednesdayites will know that their side, in the past, have shown a propensity to mess up games like this on occasions. This was not one of those.

There was a late scare when Sam Hutchinson, commanding at the back, did well to clear off the line twice in a rare old scramble to deny Cole Stockton and Jonathan Obika. But it was a moment in isolation and Mendez-Laing soothed any nerves with his second goal in front of Owls followers in 2022.

It was a night also notable for Wednesday making four substitutions, having been allowed to bring on an additional replacement following Morecambe keeper Trevor Carson's departure due to concussion in the first period.

As far as Wednesday were concerned, the game also had stand-out qualities due to an unlikely goalscoring source.

The moment arrived on 56 minutes, courtesy of a superb opener from George Byers with the midfielder coming up with something special from distance to break the deadlock and crown a strong personal performance.

The Owls made just one change, but it was a significant one with Massimo Luongo likely to have been high up on the list of players whose home punters would have rather seen out on the pitch as opposed to off it.

Byers' display allayed any fears mercifully.

There was no place in the match-day squad for Tyreece John-Jules, a notable absence, although not quite on the same scale as Moore.

Without a bonafide number nine ‘up top’ as such, Wednesday were reliant upon canny movement and ingenuity and playing their way through a Morecambe line-up who looked like a side boasting just one win in their last nine league outings on the road.

A stop-start half, not helped by treatment to first Dean and then Carson hampered the hosts more than the visitors.

Chiefly in the guise of Windass, they looked to have the one player capable of opening doors. Mendez-Laing and Marvin Johnson also had their moments on either flank in a half when Wednesday boasted 76 per cent possession.

An early snapshot from Windass tested Carson after a quickly-taken free-kick in a half which saw the Owls find their feet and not get impatient and frustrated, more pertinently .

Mendez-Laing made a brilliant interception and was denied a picture-book goal by an equally stunning last-ditch challenge from Ryan Cooney as he was about to shoot, while the offside flag rightly thwarted Johnson in his celebrations after he moved a touch early before firing home a peach of a volley from Barry Bannan’s probing pass.

Floran Kamberi agonisingly just failed to turn in Mendez-Laing’s centre in a half which had seven additional minutes and ended with the sight of Dele-Bashiru hobbling off. It was one of those evenings.

Wednesday kept at it and the pressure would eventually tell, thanks to a sublime strike from Byers, whose first league goal for the club was one to savour.

The killer second would arrive late, but there was no doubting the validity of this win, Wednesday's third on the trot at home. Rivals beware.

Sheffield Wednesday: Peacock-Farrell; Storey, Dean (Palmer 8), Hutchinson; Mendez-Laing, Dele-Bashiru (Paterson 45), Byers, Bannan; Johnson; Kamberi (Sow 65), Windass (Berahino 74). Substitutes unused: Wildsmith, Hunt, Brennan.

Morecambe: Carson (Letheren 23); Cooney (Connolly 80), O’Connor, Bedeau, McLaughlin; McLoughlin, Diagouraga, Phillips; Gnahoua (Bennett 45), Stockton, Ayunga (Obika 80). Substitutes unused, Wildig, McCalmont, Fane.

Referee: O Yates (Staffordshire).