First things first – GET IN THERE YOU BLUE AND WHITE WIZARDS!!
We’ve waited long enough, and now Brian Laws has helped guide the Owls to their first derby double over rivals Sheffield United, and we deserved everything we got.
Marcus Tudgay bagged the winner in emphatic style, a superb long-range 25-yard effort which gave Paddy Kenny no chance, after Vital Sheffield Wednesday’s very own Tommy Spurr opened the deadlock just a minute in, Arturo Lupoli’s 5th minute leveller proving worthless for the Blades.
Under Laws, Wednesday have always looked like they’re going to come out on top against their lesser neighbours, but at the Lane there was a huge sense of nervousness amongst the travelling Wednesday fans, right up until the final whistle.
It certainly wasn’t one for the faint-hearted, but Wednesday did more than just hang on against a Blades side who will no doubt be up for all kinds of criticism from their fans this week.
Wednesday stuck with the same side that drew 1-1 with Birmingham last week, with Leon Clarke leading the line with Tudgay in Jeffers’ absence, the last derby day hero Steve Watson having to settle for a place on the bench for the second game in succession after recovering from a toe injury.
For the Blades, former Owls target Billy Sharp had to settle for a spot on the bench with Jamie Ward, with new signing Lupoli making his home debut alongside Danny Webber in attack for the hosts.
Fans of both sides were hardly settled in their seats, or that should be stood as far as the Wednesday fans go, when Wednesday went ahead in front of a shellshocked United Kop.
Michael Gray, who has vast derby day experience from his time at Sunderland and in the Celtic v Rangers derby, got in good position down the right and fired a cross across goal which Spurr got on the end on and powered into the back of the net to send the travelling Owls, and the Owls at the beamback at S6, in to raptures.
Owls boss Brian Laws will have been looking for his troops to settle down after taking the early lead, but they let their hosts, desperate for revenge from the 1-0 defeat earlier in the season, straight back in to the game just a matter of minutes later.
Greg Halford’s long throw-ins seemed to be United’s most dangerous play, and it was one such throw which forced Grant to come from his line, only for Lupoli to head over the line and bring United back on level terms.
Goals looked like coming at both ends, both following the equaliser, United upped their gear and looked to turn the game on its head.
Nick Montgomery came inches wide of giving Blackwell’s side the lead just minutes later when his powerful volley left Grant with no chance but brushed the side of the post to the relief of the Owls’ stopper.
Wednesday withstood the pressure from the Blades though and carved out their chances at the other end.
As always, Jermaine Johnson continued to be a thorn in United’s side, causing them all kinds of problems down the left and right, while the experience and pace of Gray on the other wing continued to trouble the hosts, who rather enjoyed playing the long ball in response.
Clarke came close for the Owls before Tudgay fired Wednesday back in to the lead just before the half hour mark.
The in-form striker found himself free inside the United half and he strode towards goal before unleashing an unstoppable 25-yard effort which gave Kenny no chance and left Tudgay reeling away to the delighted Owls faithful in the bottom tier of the Bramall Lane end.
United fans have already voiced their concerns about Blackwell’s style of play, but the home support was doing little to rally their troops in their time on need, with a lacklustre atmosphere from the home fans, in comparison to the ‘carnival’ atmopshere from the Wednesdayites.
United looked for a response before half-time, with the referee more than giving them a helping hand along the way, but Wednesday held out to take the advantage into the break.
Half-Time: United 1-2 Wednesday
Wednesday will have been keen to avoid a repeat of last season at the Lane which saw the Owls throw away a 2-0 lead to take a share of the spoils.
There was no James Beattie this time though, and Wednesday were playing the better, flowing football, looking dangerous on the counter-attack.
The Owls enjoyed a good start to the second period and almost gave themselves a two goal cushion when Clarke turned inside the box and powered and effort against the woodwork.
United were enjoying the possession the middle of the park, but their lack of creativity inside the final third was there for all to see, including the Blades fans who started to become frustrated with what was unfolding before them.
With Gray and Johnson as the Wednesday outlets, the hosts always looked in trouble when they lost possession and the Owls hit them on the break.
United made their first change of the match, when Blackwell brought off Lupoli to be replaced to their midweek hero Jamie Ward, a recent signing from Chesterfield, to add pace to the attack.
Ward’s introduction did little to bolster the Blades attack, and Billy Sharp was introduced with 15 minutes to go as the chances dried up at both ends, more to the delight of Wednesday.
It was new-boy Ward who had probably the best Blades’ chance of the second half when he directed a header well wide of goal when he should have forced Grant into making a save.
And the same man was also in on goal minutes later but Gray put in a superb last-ditch tackle to rob the speedy striker of a chance from close range.
Blackwell had his last throw of his dice when he introduced Lee Hendrie late on, while Laws brought on Watson at the expense of the impressive Johnson to try and protect the Owls’ late in the dying stages.
Sharp did come close as his close range effort was tipped over the bar from Grant, but Wednesday were relatively comfortable in the latter stages to hold on for a history-making victory.
Full-Time: United 1-2 Wednesday
Sheff Utd: Kenny, Naughton, Bromby, Kilgallon, Naysmith, Halford, Howard (Hendrie 78), Montgomery, Quinn, Webber (Sharp 73), Lupoli (Ward 52). Subs Not Used: Cotterill, Jihai.
Wednesday: Grant, Buxton, Wood, Beevers, Spurr, Johnson (Watson 89), Potter, O’Connor, Gray, Clarke, Tudgay. Subs Not Used: Hinds, McAllister, Boden, Small.
United 1-2 Wednesday
First things first – GET IN THERE YOU BLUE AND WHITE WIZARDS!!