Marcus Tudgay’s 85th minute winner gave Wednesday the win against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park for the first time in 25 years – and saw the Owls leapfrog the Eagles in the progress.
The victory means Wednesday are now seven games unbeaten – and Owls boss Brian Laws is still keeping distant hopes of a play-off place alive with six games remaining of the campaign.
Laws made just one change to the Owls starting line-up with right-back Frank Simek sitting out the first of his three-game suspension for his sending-off against Wolves two weeks ago.
Captain Lee Bullen moved to right-back while Steve Watson moved to the centre of defence to partner Richard Wood and Kenny Lunt was re-called to the side to play alongside Glenn Whelan in the centre of the Owls midfield.
But although both managers were still playing up their chances of reaching a play-off spot, the game started in a manner which looked more like the Owls and the Eagles were accepting their mid-table finish to the season, with little action in the opening stages.
Deon Burton proved the biggest threat to the Palace goal and he almost worked his way through the defence three minutes in only to see the charismatic figure of Gabor Kiraly thwart him en-route to goal.
And Kiraly’s opposite number Iain Turner had to impress on return to his former loan club as he forced away a Clinton Morrison strike while James Scowcroft could only head a Jobi McAnuff header wide of the Scot’s goal and Morrison also saw an effort blocked by the impressive Steve Watson.
As they have done throughout the season, Wednesday still managed to carve out some good chances of their own at the other end when Steve Maclean saw his low drive blocked by the legs of Kiraly before the stopper also thwarted Glenn Whelan’s free-kick.
Half-Time: Palace 0-0 Wednesday
The Owls will have been happy going in all square at the break but they were again on the back foot at the start of the second 45 as Leon Cort started where Palace left off with a long 35-yard effort which was easily saved by Turner.
But Cort’s effort aside, the Owls started with much greater desire than they had in the first half and were rewarded ten minutes in as Deon Burton upped his plea for a new contract at the club with a bullet header from close-range.
Peter Gilbert gave the ball to Chris Brunt – fresh from his table-topping performances for Northern Ireland recently – and the winger lashed in a superb cross to find the former Derby man unmarked in the box. His bullet header could only be punched in to the back of his own net by Kiraly to give the Owls the lead.
And Burton could have made it a quick-fire double when he neatly turned inside the box only to see Kiraly get the better of him this time with a fine stop.
Owls fans must have been sweating when Palace boss Taylor brought on former Blades winger Paul Ifill and former Wednesday hitman Shefki Kuqi.
And Ifill almost brought the hosts back in to the game when his brilliant run on 72 minutes took him by two Wednesday defenders, but his dangerous-looking cross was too high for Clinton Morrison to latch on to.
And the Republic of Ireland striker made amends with ten minutes remaining as Mark Kennedy’s free-kick found the striker in the box to head Palace on level terms after Peter Gilbert had conceded the free-kick.
A draw would have seen both teams play-off hopes ended, but to their credit the Owls and the Eagles went all out to get the three points in a lively close to the match with saw both teams come close to taking the spoils.
But it was Wednesday who were rewarded for their fine display in somewhat fortunate fashion with five minutes to go.
Kenny Lunt broke free down the right and he saw his cross challenged by Steve Maclean in the box, but defender Leon Cort could only clear the danger straight in to the path of Marcus Tudgay who made no mistake from just six yards out on the volley to give Wednesday all three points at Selhurst.
Full-Time: Palace 1-2 Wednesday
Wednesday: Turner; Bullen, Watson, Wood, Gilbert; Tudgay, Whelan, Lunt, Brunt (Folly 85); MacLean, Burton (Spurr 85). Subs not used: Adamson, Hills, Lekaj.
Palace: Kiraly; Lawrence, Hudson, Cort, Borrowdale; Soares, Watson (Ifil 53), Fletcher, McAnuff (Kuqi 59); Morrison, Scowcroft (Kennedy 71). Subs not used: Speroni, Butterfield.
Brian Laws told the official SWFC site:
‘It was a great win for us today. Conditions in the first half were very difficult, with a lot of swirling wind, which wasn’t helping anybody. I said at half time that we have to make our passing shorter to combat those problems and we certainly kept the ball a lot better in the second half.
‘The play-offs are only a mathematical possibility but we will keep going out there to win every game and see where it takes us. Coming to Crystal Palace we have put in a good performance and I though the win was fully deserved.’
Peter Taylor told the official CPFC site:
‘The second half performance wasn’t good enough and I’ve told the players that. It was very disappointing and I thought the conditions were awkward for both teams with a difficult wind.
‘I thought some of the things we did in the first half were okay, but I didn’t like us in the second half and I think the second goal we conceded is the reason we’re in the position where we are because you can’t make mistakes like that. We make it too easy for teams to score against us at times and we need to improve on that.’