The Owls finished the season off on a high thanks to a comfortable 2-0 victory against a poor Derby side at Pride Park. An early strike from former Ram Marcus Tudgay gave the Owls the lead before substitute Leon Best made it 2-0 with just five minutes to go.
The victory means the Owls leapfrog Derby into 19th place – their highest position for some time. It was just the finish to the season that boss Paul Sturrock wanted to take in to next season.
The main change in staff for the Owls this weekend was the abscense of boss Paul Sturrock who was abroad on scouting duties for next season. Assistant boss Kevin Summerfield took the reigns for the final game of the season, after securing Championship status in the Easter Monday match victory at Brighton.
Young defender Tommy Spurr kept his place at left-back after an impressive performance against Champions Reading last week. Fellow youngster Sean McAllister also came into the side after appearing just once previously in the 3-0 defeat to Southampton.
Former Derby players Marcus Tudgay and Deon Burton regained their place in attack at the expense of Steven Maclean and Leon Best. Tudgay got a rousing reception from the Derby fans when he got off the team coach. Cheers of ‘Marcus Tudgay is a ram, he hates Wednesday’ from the home fans resulted in the striker kissing the Wednesday badge on his tracksuit. Burton on the other hand didn’t get such a warm reception following controversial issues when he left the Derbyshire club.
Lee Bullen continued alongside Graham Coughlan in the centre of defence with Drissa Diallo filling in at right back. JP McGovern continued on the right side of midfield with Burton O’Brien out on the left hand side.
Former Sheffield United striker Paul Peschisolido returned to the Rams line-up after recovering from injury in a hope to score against his former rivals.
The Derby faithful also welcomed the new board on to the pitch which raised spirits after a poor season. Signs of ‘under new management’ could be seen plastered all around the exterior of the ground.
Wednesday were backed by a magnificent following from Hillsborough, with 5,200 lucky fans grabbing the tickets for the final game of the season after just two days on sale. The Wednesday end was awash with blue and white balloons, inflatables, and fancy dress – including the Cookie Monster, Tin Man, and Osama Bin Laden. The Derby fans also turned out in numbers, with a gate of over 30,000 announced towards the end.
Owls strikers Marcus Tudgay and Deon Burton would both have dreamed about scoring on their return to Pride Park, and Tudgay didn’t have long to wait before his dream came true. A cross from Jon-Paul Mcgovern was deflected in the box before Tudgay chested it down and smashed the ball passed Lee Camp in the Derby goal to make it 1-0 to the Owls.
The effort turned out to be one of just a few in a half that the home side had control of, but never really threatened the Wednesday goal enough. Scott Carson also proved why he should be going to Germany this summer with some fine saves to keep the hosts at bay.
Tall centre-back Darren Moore nearly found the back of the net but the former Doncaster Rovers man couldn’t force his header towards goal. Midfielder Adam Bolder also saw a long range drive saved well by Carson in the Wednesday goal.
As the hosts kept coming forward the stubborn Wednesday defence was coping with everything it had to throw at them. Paul Peschisolido nearly broke through after a through-ball found the former Bladesman in on goal. But Carson was quick off his line and he raced out to mop up the danger.
Despite good humoured banter between the two sets of fans about Peschisolido, the day was to end prematurely for the Canadian after he picked up an injury just five minutes before the break. It looked as though he would be stretchered off but he carried on until the break.
Wednesday still looked dangerous on the break though, and Tudgay showed the Derby fans what they were missing when he neatly by-passed two midfielders before linking up well with Burton in attack and winning the Owls a corner.
The hosts had won numerous free-kicks in dangerous positions around the Wednesday box but none of the efforts went anywhere near to causing Scott Carson any trouble, despite the prescence of Seth Johnson and Morten Bisgaard.
Derby came out all guns blazing in the second half, wanting to end the dissapointing season on a high for the 25,000 Derby fans that had turned up at Pride Park. Despite their long spells of possession though, they rarely threatened the Wednesday goal.
In fact it was midfielder Burton O’Brien who had the beter of the chances in the second half. he South African saw two long range efforts fly just passed Lee Camp’s goal.
Tommy Smith looked the biggest danger for the hosts, and he was getting the better of youngster Tommy Spurr, resulting in the Owls left-back being booked for a late challenge on the former Watford man.
Fellow youngster Sean McAllister was exciting the Wednesday fans with his determined display though, and he was matching the experienced Seth Johnson in the middle of the park.
Tommy Smith nearly found the equaliser for Derby with just 10 minutes remaining after an excellent cross from Marc Edworthy down the right hand side found Smith unmarked in the Owls box. His stretced effort somehow went away from Scott Carson’s goal though, and it looked like the Rams could be playing until midnight and still have nothing to show in terms of goals.
Leon Best came on to replace Jon-Paul McGovern with 10 minutes remaining, and Best’s impact was almost immenent. His fresh legs got the better of the giant Darren Moore and his effort looped over Camp on the Derby goal thanks to a wicket deflection.
The goal sparked celebrations in the Wednesday end, but saw the erby faithful head for the exits – despite a ‘lap of honour’ from the players at the end of the match.
The final whistle blew on a difficult, but successful season for the Owls, anf the team came over the thanks the fans for their magnificent support throughout the season.
So the final whistle blows on the 2005/2006 season and although the Owls may have been battling against relegation for the whole of the season, fans can see survival in the Championship on a par with promotion last season.
Wednesday’s form towards the end of the season certainly gives the fans something to look forward to next season, and with a couple of additions to the squad there should be no repeat of the struggles this season.
Made some vital saves at 1-0 to keep the Owls in the lead. Hopefully not his final game in a Wednesday shirt.
Didn’t look at all confident at right-back, and made a few late challenges which could have easily seen him sent off.
ad a tough job of marking tricky Tommy Smith but did relatively well to keep him at bay. One for the future.
A rock in the heart of defence as ever.
One of his best games for the Owls at centre back. Hopefully won’t be his final game for the Owls
Over the season the South African has started to impress and this performance topped off a good first term for the Owls. Had two decent efforts drift just wide of goal.
Looks like he’s going to be a great prospect for the future. Has typical pace and determination of a youngster but shows maturity for his age. More than matched Seth Johnson.
Hopefully his signature will become permanent in the summer. A decent peformance alongsde a new-look Owls midfield.
Looks to be getting his sharpness back and provided the cross for Tudgay to give the Owls a 1-0 lead.
Just had to score against his former club and did it in style. Looked good throughout and produced one of his best performances in an Owls shirt.
Not one his best games for the Owls – which delighted the Derby fans – but still held the ball up well and linked well with Tudgay
His fresh legs in the final 10 minutes proved the difference as he ended his loan stay with the club in fine style with the decisive goal.