Video - Brighton v Sheffield Wednesday: Owls take pragmatic approach adopted by Burnley

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PRAGMATISM and proficiency were the two watchwords which served Burnley well en route to their successful quest for Championship silverware last season.

In the here and now, that template of substance above style is very much being followed by another similarly proud footballing institution in Sheffield Wednesday – and Barry Bannan believes that mantra can also yield promotion glory for the Owls.

Ross Wallace, Tom Lees, Sam Hutchinson celebrate the Owls victory in the play-offs at Brighton last season.

Ross Wallace, Tom Lees, Sam Hutchinson celebrate the Owls victory in the play-offs at Brighton last season.

In terms of the race for automatic promotion, the Scot has stressed that all bets are currently off given the unpredictable nature of the league, with the events of 12 months ago fortifying his belief.

At the same 26-game juncture of 2015-16, Burnley were in fourth place with 45 points – the same amount of points that the sixth-placed Owls have amassed ahead of tonight’s key encounter at second-placed Brighton.

Come last May, the Clarets were celebrating on an open-top bus after winning the league by four points.

Ample proof then to everyone that top-two berths are not secured in mid-January.

It provides inspiration not just for the Owls, but also to their Yorkshire neighbours of Leeds United and Huddersfield Town, who are both comfortably in situ in the top six and entitled to dream of even headier climes.

But the example of Burnley is perhaps more pertinent for a Wednesday side, whose artistic merit has been knocked this term by many, without reference to their ability to get the job done.

Burnley were unerring in that regard at the business end of last season and it is something that Wednesday must strive to replicate, according to Bannan.

He said: “People might not think we are doing well and it might be because we aren’t playing some of the fancy football we did last year.

“But we were playing this football a lot of the time last season and not getting much for it. This season, we have not been as good going forward, but we are getting results and winning games and that is what you have to do in this league.

“I think Burnley were pretty similar when they got promoted and you wouldn’t have looked at them and said that they were quite pleasing on the eye. But if it gets you to the Premier League, so be it.

“The top two is what we are pushing for and you have to set your standards high and that’s what we want to do.

“We think and know we can still get that, it is just about going out and showing it.”

Proof of the Championship’s unpredictability came in the shape of the Owls’ fine victory at leaders Newcastle United on Boxing Day as they produced one of the outstanding team performances so far this season at this level.

Expectations promptly shot through the roof and proved the precursor to two flat performances against Preston and Wolves.

But in the final analysis, Wednesday did not lose either game, despite being well below their best and they also ground things out to a degree on their way to a 2-0 derby success over Huddersfield last weekend.

Bannan believes that the Owls – unbeaten in their six league outings with five clean sheets along the way – should make no apologies for that thorny issue of style, more especially given that they are three points better off than after the same amount of games last term.

He added: “I think because we weren’t expected to do as well as we did last season, we surprised a few people and probably the supporters as well.

“Because we did so well, we bought a lot of players and are one of the bigger teams in the league and the pressure is on now and we have let ourselves down in a few games.

“That’s when people have jumped on us.

“But for everyone to see that we have got more points, victories and are in a better position than last season.”

Tonight’s game at the Amex Stadium will evoke treasured memories from last Spring when the Owls booked a play-off final berth amid ecstatic scenes of unbridled joy among players, staff and supporters following the final whistle of their play-off semi-final second leg in East Sussex on May 16.

It proved a pulsating occasion with the Owls somehow surviving a remarkable opening onslaught from the hosts, when visiting supporters were forgiven for thinking that they were watching the sporting equivalent of the siege of the Alamo and Rorke’s Drift.

Crucially, Wednesday repelled the bombardment and showed their mettle to regroup and get over the line in relative comfort by the end and while Albion’s hordes will be spying revenge tonight, memories of that epic night should serve the visitors well.

Bannan said: “It was the longest 20 minutes I have probably had in my career. It was strange, from the first game in which we were on top so far to going to their place and it just swung completely.

“We did well to get in drawing at half-time and in the second half we were comfortable.

“It was a big game, but a close one as well and it will probably be similar on Friday night.”

Last six games: Brighton WWWWWL; Sheffield Wednesday WWDDLW.

Referee: S Attwell (Warwickshire).

Last time: Brighton 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1, May 16, 2016; Championship play-offs.