Wednesday 4-1 Charlton
17/01/09 - 3pm
'We've got our Wednesday back' was the chant from a bumper crowd at Hillsborough which saw a new era at S6 unfold in emphatic style against the Championship basement club Charlton Athletic at Hillsborough.
Goals from debutant Darren Potter, a brace from Marcus Tudgay and a first goal in over a year for Francis Jeffers made it an almost perfect day for the 28,000-plus inside Hillsborough, with a cracking 25-yard effort from the visitors not enough to dent the new-found pride and passion from the blue and white half of Sheffield.
The match was the first at the helm for the new Owls chairman Lee Strafford and chief executive Nick Parker.
And with Strafford coming onto the pitch to make a rallying cry to the Wednesday faithful before the match - albeit with the microphone playing up a little (hey, it could't all be perfect, could it?) - followed by the introduction of Ozzie Owl and legend Chris Waddle - the scene was set for a superb day for all Wednesday fans.
Laws made three changes to the side that took a point from Ipswich last time out with Potter making his debut since completing a loan deal until the end of the season from Wolves, while James O'Connor returned from a one-game suspension and Marcus Tudgay returned in attack.
Deon Burton was ineligable to play for the Addicks as part of the deal that took him to The Valley, but former Blade Andy Gray was in the starting eleven.
Both sides fired early warning shots on goal with Jermaine Johnson looking in good form on the wing, forcing a comfortable save from Charlton stopper Darren Randolph, while Matthew Spring tested Grant at the other end.
But for the vast majority of the match Wednesday were in control, and Charlton showed just why they look like heading for League One with an uninspiring performance which left the small band of Addicks fans with a long journey back to London.
Despite Wednesday being on top, they never really looked like opening the scoring before Potter bagged the opener in superb style on 20 minutes.
Johnson again proved his worth to the team by providing a second assist in as many weeks when he lay the ball off for former Liverpool man Potter to drill a low shot into the corner of the goal in front of the Kop end to fire Wednesday into the lead and make a superb start to life in S6.
Johnson's form could be said to be very hit and miss the season but he was certainly on one of his 'hit' days, with a tricky run down the left causing all kinds of problems in the Addicks back line minutes later before firing straight at Randolph when it could have been easier laying Potter off for a second strike on goal.
Wednesday looked bright throughout the team, and nobody will have been trying harder than Jeffers - playing against one of his former clubs - to find the back of the net.
It almost came on the half hour mark when a neat pass inside found Jeffers brilliantly turn his marker inside ther box with a neat flick which teed him up to fire a vicious volley at the Charlton stopper to force him into a superb save.
It was all one-way traffic for the Owls - notoriously slow to kick-start in the first half - but they managed to put breathing space between them and their visitors with a second before the break.
Michael Gray, looking bright and fit on the wing, provided the back-post cross form a corner to see Tudgay head in low and hard from point blank range.
It could have been game, set and match to the Owls minutes before the break, with Jeffers again being thwarted by Randolph, when he broke free of the Charlton ofside trap only to see the Charlton stopper come racing from his line to deny the 'fox in the box'.
Half-Time: Wednesday 2-0 Charlton
As somewhat maybe expected, although not wanted, Wednesday somewhat took their foot off the gas at the start of the second half and it allowed Charlton back into the game, but Grant wasn't really ever fully tested against the Addicks' weak firepower.
Former Wednesday loanee Lloyd Sam looked the most dangerous out of the Charlton attackers but he wasn't backed up by his team-mates as the Wednesday defence, although sometimes struggling with the pace and tricky of the winger, often crowded out the danger.
At the other end, Jeffers was getting ever closer to grabbing a much-needed goal for the striker but was denied by the linesman's flag on miore than one occassion.
But where Charlton were failing in finding the back of the net at the other end, it wasn't long before Jeffers' patience and hard work paid off as he hit the Owls' third goal which killed off the game just after the hour mark.
New signing Gray was again providing the assist, putting in a cross for the former Everton and Arsenal man to fire home to his delight which saw him wheel away in celebration and pick up a booking in the process.
The Wednesday crowd showed their appreciation for the goal, and the hope of plenty more to come, with a huge applause for the striker.
And he could well have made it a brace minutes later, with confidence clearly flowing, as his Premier League class one-two with Tudgay seeing Jeffers edge the finish just wide of the post.
Charlton kept plucking away to their credit, and they got a consolation goal before the end of the game with a superb 25-yard effort which Grant could do little about.
But although more than happy with the scoreline and the win, Wednesday may well be disappointed that they didn't make the score more emphatic.
Tudgay saw an effort cleared off the line by Matt Holland, while Potter also came inches from bagging his second when his free-kick came crashing back off the woodwork after Randolph was lucky to be still on the field following a last-man foul on substitute Wade Small.
But the scoring was complete in injury time when Tudgay was brought down inside the box and he picked himself up to fire home the Owls' fourth goal.
Full-Time: Wednesday 4-1 Charlton
Owls: Grant, Buxton, Wood, Beevers, Spurr, Johnson (Small 64), O'Connor, Potter (McAllister 85), Gray, Jeffers (Boden 74), Tudgay. Unused substitutes: Hinds, Modest.
Charlton: Randolph, Bailey, Murty (Moutaouakil 54), Hudson, Shelvey (Dickson 68), Spring, Soares (Holland 68), Sam, Fortune, Basey, Gray. Unused substitutes: Elliot, Todorov.
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