Date: 2nd January 2006 at 6:48pm
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Wednesday got off to a great start in 2006 after they eased to a 3-0 victory against relegation rivals Crewe Alexandra at Hillsborough.

The opening goal came from an unexpected source in Richard Wood after just seven minutes, and the Owls never really looked threatened after. Debutant Marcus Tudgay added the second after the hour mark, and an own goal with 10 minutes remaining sealed the much needed points for the Owls, who have scored five goals in two games and secured two consecutive victories.

Paul Sturrock had no hesistation in bringing new signings Deon Burton and Marcus Tudgay in to the starting line-up despite only signing for the club yesterday. Barry Corr and Chris Brunt were the unfortunate one’s to be dropped to the bench. Richie Partridge was re-called to the side to play on the right hand side of midfield after Chris Eagles loan deal with the club ended after the Burnley match. Glenn Whelen came in to replace Steve Adams, who was injured.

Dario Gradi handed a surprise start to Ben Rix who replaced David Vaughan in midfield. Adie Moses and Luke Varney were also re-called to the side in place of Anthony Tonkin and Eddie Johnson respectively.

It was the visitors who carved out the first shot on goal after just two minutes. Ben Rix was making his first start for the club since March 2004, but his curling effort was easily saved by Weaver in the Wednesday goal.

Wednesday knew the importance of this first fixture of the new year, and it got off to the best possible start when John Hills forced a good save by the on-loan Ross Turnbull in the Railwaymen’s net. Richie Partridge’s inswinging corner found the head of Richard Wood who made it 1-0 after just seven minutes.

Wednesday were dominating proceedings and the visitors never looked like threatining Nicky Weavers goal. The only trouble the on-loan Weaver encountered was when he was involved in a collision with Crewe centre-back Steven Foster, much to the displeasure of the Kop.

The Owls nearly doubled their advantage after 20 minutes when Burton O’Brien nearly capitalised on some poor Crewe defending. His looping effort from outside the box went over Turnbull in the Crewe goal but bounced off the bar to safety.

Some good link up play between the two new Wednesday attackers resulted in Deon Burton being put through on goal. He was being tracked by two Alex defenders though, and was forced to shoot from distance, which resulted in the effort going wide of the goal.

Tudgay also had a few half chances as the half drew to a close, with a tame volley which was easily saved by Turnbull and a header.

Wednesday certainly went in to the half time break the happier side, but knew they needed that second goal to kill the game and ease the nerves of the 25,000 strong crowd at Hillsborough.

Despite Wednesday’s first half domination, it was the visitors who came out of the traps the fastest in the second half and were forcing the hosts in to their own half.

Striker Luke Varney issued a warning to the Wednesday defence when he broke free and had the goal at his mercy, but Richard Wood recovered quickly to make an excellent last-ditch tackle.

Wednesday were still applying pressure at the Kop end, and always looked a threat going forward – something that the side has been desperatly lacking in the last few months. Deon Burton nearly scored on his debut after directing a header goalwards from a Partridge cross, but it was comfortably saved by Turnbull.

On 62 minutes the lead was doubled thanks to a header from debutant Marcus Tudgay. John Hills had a shot at goal which landed at the feet of Burton, who’s neat touch found the head of Tudgay to get his Owls career of to a perfect start in front of the admiring Kop.

With the game looking safe, Paul Sturrock made some changes to his side after the busy Christmas period. Richie Partridge suffered some cramp and was replaced by Chris Brunt. Lee Bullen was also brought on to replace John Hills who had another good game.

It was Brunt who put the icing on the cake with just ten minutes remaining when the Crewe defence were tiring at the back. His shot from just inside the box took a wicked deflection from Chris McCready and the ball ended up in the back of the net. It was what the Owls deserved and they had now scored five goals in two games, after suffering a goal drought of seven games.

Brunt should have made it 4-0 with just minutes remaining but he somehow missed from just six yards out. Lee Bullen was free down the right hand side and could have shot himself, but he crossed for fellow substitute Brunt who somehow found the fans in the Kop when it was easier to find the back of the net.

The 3-0 scoreline was a fair reflection on the game but it could have so easily been four or five. Two consecutive wins could have turned Wednesday’s season around, and the introduction of Deon Burton and Marcus Tudgay certainly gave Wednesday a constant threat in attack. January is certainly a big month for the Owls, with Leicester City up next at Hillsborough, and yet another relegation six pointer.

Player Ratings

Weaver 6
The on-loan Manchester City stopper had little to do throughout the game apart from a comfortable save in the first two minutes from Ben Rix

Simek 7
Simek has been one of the better signings from Paul Sturrock and showed why he came through the ranks at Arsenal with another strong performance today

Gilbert 7
A confident performance from Gilbert, who will be signing permanently in the coming days

Coughlan 7
Lead the line as usual and helped keep a vital clean sheet for the Owls

Wood 9
Man of the match. Opened the scoring with a rare goal, and also helped keep the score at 1-0 with a brilliant block from Luke Varney

Whelen 7
Whelen has been struggling for form recently and fans have called for him to be dropped. Had a decent performance today without doing too much

Partridge 8
Got his chance after Eagles returned to Manchester United and took it. Provided some dangerous crosses including the corner for the opening goal

Hills 7
Played out of position again on the left hand side of midfield but put in another good performance

O’Brien 7
Keeps getting closer and closer to scoring, this time his effort bounced off the bar

Burton 8
Had a good debut and linked well with Tudgay, despite only signing yesterday. Had a few close efforts

Tudgay 8
Nice to see a good strike pair at Hillsborough who linked well. Scored a ‘strikers goal’ to top off his performance. Needs to work on his first touch though

Brunt 7
Made the third goal, and should have added a fourth but somehow missed from six yards out

Bullen 6
Used on the right side of midfield and found it hard to get in to the game. Nearly assisted Brunt in adding a fourth

Dario Gradi said:
Didn’t have much time to impress

Paul Sturrock said:
‘I was very disappointed with the way we started the second half. At times we were too deep.

‘For 20 minutes until we got the second goal, they dominated most of that spell.

‘But overall we have come through the game. It was huge for the club. It’s still going to be a tough old fight until the end.’

Marcus Tudgay said:
‘To get a goal and help the side was good. The ball came to Deon who flicked it up in the air and I just tried to head it into the back of the net, which I did.”

‘To get a win at Burnley isn’t easy, so the boys were on a high. Then me and Deon came in today and we want to help Wednesday up the table and get goals while we’re doing it.’

Dario Gradi said:
‘We thought we might get something here. But they are all hard games in this league.

‘They played better than us in the first half. We didn’t pass very well and we were a bit nervous in midfield.

‘But we did much better in the second half and we started to make some inroads.’