Derby 3-0 Wednesday
Pride Park, Derby
04/10/09 - 3pm
Wednesday put in their worst performance of the season to date with a display that boss Brian Laws described as 'awful' following a 3-0 defeat at Derby County.
Goals from Lee Croft, Jay McEveley and a Rob Hulse penalty gave the Rams al three points in a game Wednesday will be looking to forget in a hurry, but with the international break now giving the Owls a two-week break from competitive action, Laws and his men will have plenty to ponder.
Laws made just one change to the side that drew 0-0 at Crystal Palace in midweek, with former Ram Marcus Tudgay returning the starting eleven, replacing Luke Varney in attack, who was ineligible as part of his loan agreement from Derby.
The Rams were ram-raided 6-1 at Cardiff City in midweek, and Laws was well wary of the threat the 'wounded animal' posed, with Derby, dealt injury blow after injury blow this season, keen to bounce back in front of their home fans.
But although the hosts did show a marked improvement from their midweek horror-show, Wednesday once again put in a below-par showing and contributed to their own downfall.
So impressive in their 3-1 win over Cardiff last week, and confident from returning from Selhurst Park with a point on Tuesday night, Wednesday should have been in confident mood for the trip to Pride Park.
As it turned out, they left with little pride at all to show for their efforts, as below-par passing, comedy defending, and a lack of spark in their creative play gave the hosts a comfortable afternoon in front of over 30,000 fans.
Chances were very few and far between as Wednesday more than matched their hosts for the first ten minutes, former Blade Rob Hulse having the only effort which gave former Ram Lee Grant little trouble.
The breakthrough came 17 minutes in when more poor defending from an Owls side who've struggled at the back all season allowed Croft to sidefoot in his first league goal of the season after good work by Paul Dickov.
Croft was influential throughout, and Robbie Savage continued to prove he's worthy of a place in Derby's starting eleven with an influential performance in the heart of the host's midfield.
Dean Moxey came close to doubling Derby's lead minutes later as the Rams grew in confidence as the first-half continued.
Marcus Tudgay and James O'Connor did see half chances come and go as the Owls struggled to get into the flow of the game, and they were almost made to pay before the break when Dickov flashed a low effort just wide of Grant's goal as the Owls defence failed to close the on-loan striker down at the edge of the box.
Half-Time: Derby 1-0 Wednesday
The Owls had to come out and show an improvement on the resumption - it couldn't get much worse from the visitors' point of view - and to their credit, they did.
But the chances they did create, for under-fire centre-back Darren Purse and Michael Gray, were all Wednesday could manage from the opening exchanges of the second half, arguably their best spell of the game.
Leon Clarke wasted the best chance of the game eight minutes after the resumption, Gray taking advantage of a slip from a Derby defender to square the ball for Clarke, who lacked compsure and blasted his effort high over the bar.
Laws did try to change things by introducing Akpo Sodje and Jermaine Johnson, for Clarke and Esajas respectively, but Wednesday's best spell of the game had come and gone as Derby looked the more likely to bag the next goal, with Hulse again coming close with a header.
The points were sealed on 65 minutes though, as Wednesday were hit on the break as McEveley broke, turned inside his marker and blasted an unstoppable effort by Grant to make it 2-0 to the hosts.
Derby's confidence was high, and Wednesday filed to get back into the game, with things made worse on the stroke of full-time as Buxton fouled Hulse inside the box, the latter picking himself up to drill in Derby's third from the spot to cap off a bad day at the office for Wednesday.
Full-Time: Derby 3-0 Wednesday