Sheffield Wednesday 5 Forest Green Rovers 0: Barry Bannan delivers five-star performance

Owls skipper Barry Bannan scores the second goal   Picture: Steve EllisOwls skipper Barry Bannan scores the second goal   Picture: Steve Ellis
Owls skipper Barry Bannan scores the second goal Picture: Steve Ellis
Barry Bannan inspired Sheffield Wednesday to a five-goal demolition of Forest Green Rovers on their first visit to Hillsborough.

The Owls captain produced one of the best individual displays seen at S6 for many a year, scoring one and having a hand in the other four goals.

The 32-year-old has remained loyal to Wednesday, even after relegation from the Championship, and it is fair to say - on this performance - there is no better footballer in English football’s third tier.

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He chipped in Wednesday’s second goal, after his cross created mayhem to allow Josh Windass to open the scoring, before setting up strikes for Liam Palmer and Lee Gregory.

The Scotland international was also involved in Wednesday’s fifth - playing in Tyreeq Bakinson, whose cross saw Dominic Barnard net an own goal.

Wednesday came into the game on the back of a 13-match unbeaten home run, the 2-0 loss to Rotherham United back in February the last time they tasted defeat at Hillsborough.

Summer signing Michael Smith was still missing, but midweek arrival Mallik Wilks was named as a substitute.

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The hosts made a bright start in the South Yorkshire sunshine, and it needed a superb tackle from Baily Cargill to thwart Gregory after good approach play by Josh Windass.

Wednesday made their early dominance pay with a 12th-minute opener.

Bannan burst down the left flank, his cross made its way to Palmer, and when the wing-back’s effort was blocked in the goalmouth, Windass was on hand to stroke the ball home.

Seven minutes later it was 2-0.

This time Windass turned provider, picking out Bannan’s far-post run, and the Scotland international lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Luke McGee with a delicate finish.

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Bannan was having an afternoon which leaves you scratching your head why the 32-year-old is playing in the third tier of English football.

On 32 minutes, his free-kick floated over the top straight into Palmer’s path, and the long-serving Wednesday defender prodded in the rebound after his initial effort was well-saved by McGee.

Bannan capped off a stunning opening 45 minutes, by creating the Owls’ fourth goal. There looked little danger, but the midfielder’s surging run caused panic in the Rovers defence, creating space for Gregory to pick his spot and curl his shot beyond McGee.

There was even time for George Byers to strike the post before the break, as the players walked off to a standing ovation from the Hillsborough crowd.

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Wednesday’s fifth came from a Tyreeq Bakinson cross, a diving Gregory scrambling the ball over the line with the final touch seeming to come off Dominic Barnard.

Just to show he was human, Bannan was off-target with a 25-yard free-kick in front of an expectant Kop, before being substituted to a standing ovation on 68 minutes.

Enter Wilks, Dennis Adeniran and Callum Paterson - Windass and Gregory also replaced - with the battle won.

Wilks - who signed from Hull City - came close to a sixth goal for the Owls - but his overhead kick from Paterson’s cross was tipped over the crossbar by McGee.

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