Sheffield Wednesday’s mini-revival over as West Brom rediscover their bounce
After four Championship games without a goal, let alone a win, the Baggies had lost their boing and would have been grateful for anything to help them along.
They would have reckoned without it arriving from a home player, with Moses Odubajo blotting his copy-book to gift them with the softest of penalties which was duly converted by Charlie Austin seven minutes before the interval, to change the course of the evening.
Appreciative of the gift – following a needless tug by Odubajo on Dara O’Shea – the second-placed Midlanders were much more sure of themselves on the resumption with a smart 58th-minute header from Matheus Pereira ensuring that a night which started off in rough fashion ended with a touch more calm and serenity.
Pereira added a late third – his eighth goal of the season – which was harsh on Wednesday, but the damage had long since been done.
After switnessing some welcome encouragement by way of a tally of four points out of last six since football’s restart, Owls manager Garry Monk stressed in the build-up that things would ‘not all go our way’ in the final seven games.
His words were spoken by someone who knows the slings or arrows of Championship fortune like the back of his hand.
But the self-inflicted error from Odubajo would have been excruciating in the extreme, given the previous unease shown by Albion.
Following a lousy 2020, with the hope being that there will be no further nasty surprises by way of a points deduction if the club loses its case with the EFL over charges of breaching profitability and sustainability rules, Wednesday’s showing of character against Nottingham Forest and Bristol City was replicated in the opening half.
They displayed the dynamism and energy which Monk has promised will be watchwords should he be afforded the chance to rebuild next season.
Few could have argued if it yielded an opener, with Albion displaying the classic symptoms of a side looking decidedly edgy in the home straight of the season, with Brentford breathing down their neck at the top of the table.
Leaders Leeds United also had a close interest on matters at Hillsborough. But there was ultimately disappointment in one particular quarter of West Yorkshire at the game’s outcome.
The chief frustration belonged to Odubajo, whose penchant for conceding penalties again came to the fore. Brought in on the left-hand side of a back three, with Julian Borner missing the game with a dead leg, the former Hull City defender had looked the part and contained danger man Matheus Pereira well before his untimely faux pas.
Monk would have been entitled to be infuriated, given the discipline that Wednesday had hitherto displayed in restricting the visitors to next to nothing.
It was Wednesday who had the confidence coursing through their veins and looked an all-round team again with a nice tempo to their play and threats out wide from Kadeem Harris and Jacob Murphy and a striker in Connor Wickham displaying the form which marked him out as a young player with such promise a few years back.
Wickham put an early header wide, with strike partner Jordan Rhodes off target in the opening salvos. Rather more lamentable defending at the other end then changed the game’s complexion.
West Brom -– whose only other first-half effort of note saw Rakeem Harper fire over - looked far more sure of themselves on the resumption. That was manifested with Gibbs excellent cross was headed in by Pereira.
A thumping Harris shot soon struck a post and at least showed that Wednesday still possessed fight. But the game would end comfortably for Albion.
Kamil Grosicki was denied by Wildsmith before Pereira drilled home his second.
Sheffield Wednesday: Wildsmith; Odubajo, Iorfa, Palmer; Murphy,, Bannan (Hunt 87), Luongo (Lee 62), Reach (Nuhiu 62), Harris; Rhodes (Da Cruz 45), Wickham. Unused substitutes: Dawson, Pelupessy, Shaw, Brennan, Hughes.
West Brom: Johnstone; O’Shea, Bartley, Hegazi, Gibbs: Sawyers, Harper (Ajayi 88), Krovinovic (Robson-Kanu 69); Pereira (Livermore 88), Austin (Grosicki 69), Diangana (Robinson 55). Unused substitutes: Bond, Furlong, Brunt.
Referee: D Webb (Co.Durham).
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