Barnsley 1-2 Wednesday
16/01/10 - 3pm
Wednesday ended a run of 12 games without a win as Alan Irvine started his Owls career with a crucial victory in a fiery South Yorkshire derby against Barnsley at Oakwell.
First-half goals from Tommy Spurr and Jermaine Johnson proved enough for the visitors, although Emil Hallfredsson's leveller in-between kept the game alive.
It was a deserved success for the Owls, who put in plenty of pride and passion for their new manager, and it could have been more with some good chances going begging throughout.
Barnsley too had some cause for complaint, with a number of penalty appeals falling of deaf ears from the referee and his officials.
Irvine made a number of changes to the Wednesday side that lost to Crystal Palace last time out in the FA Cup.
Jermaine Johnson returned to start in attack, while Lewis Buxton returned at right-back and Michael Gray also passed a late fitness test to start the match.
And all three thanked the new boss with sparkling displays which should see them keep their place for the trip to Blackpool in midweek.
Striker Akpo Sodje also returned from his loan spell from Charlton Athletic to be used as a substitute, but there was no starting place for Francis Jeffers.
And Irvine couldn't have asked for a much better start from his troops.
Attacking the home support, Wednesday forced a number of early chances before Spurr took advantage of a loose ball to power home a Gray flag kick less than three minutes in to send the 5,000 travelling Wednesdayites barmy.
The Owls were looking relatively comfortable, and Barnsley's equaliser was a fortunate one to say the least.
Even the most hardered of Barnsley fans would dispute whether Hallfredsson meant to send a long-range effort looping over Owls' stopper Lee Grant and into the back of the net just four minutes after Spurr's opener.
His shot-cum-cross caught everybody by surprise, and Grant could do little other than the pick the ball out of the back of his net.
The leveller was a huge set-back for Wednesday, and a huge test for their mental strength - something which has been crippled in recent weeks and months.
It looked to be more of the same when captain Darren Purse almost gifted the hosts the advantage not long after the equaliser.
Purse looked to send an ambitious 30-yard header back to Grant, but his effort fell way short and the Owls' number one had to be alert to deny Daniel Bogdanovic after he capitalised on Purse's error.
But under Irvine, Wednesday, for one match at least, look to be made of tougher stuff.
Barnsley's only opening chances came courtesy of fortune or mistakes from the visitors.
And after the Owls regained their confidence, it was always Wednesday who looked the most likely to score.
Some super build-up play almost saw James O'Connor, an unlikely candidate for a goal, fire the Owls ahead for a second time, but Barnsley stopper Luke Steele did enough to top his powerful drive onto the post and out for a corner.
If anything, it only acted as an early warning sign for the Barnsley defence though, and one they didn't take notice of.
Darren Potter punted the ball forward and Tudgay flicked the ball on for Johnson to take down, charge at the home defence, and power an unstoppable effort by Steele to regain the advantage, deservedly so, for the visitors.
The game endured its quietest spell before the half-time interval, but Barnsley did get back into the game and carved out their only real chance minutes before the break.
Adam Hammill's corner saw Stephen Foster rise high to head the ball goal-bound, only for Potter to be well positioned to head the ball off the line and to safety.
Johnson could have had the final say in the half though, when the Jamaican ran towards goal but directed his low shot too close to Steele, and the Barnsley stopper made a comfortable save.
Half-Time: Barnsley 1-2 Wednesday
It was Johnson again who continued to cause problems for the Barnsley back line on the resumption, turning quickly and powering an effort which Steele had to be alert to.
But after Johnson's strike, Barnsley looked to take some control of the match and gained more posession, but did little to cause much threat to Grant's goal.
Things weren't going Barnsley's way, and boss Mark Robins made a triple substitution to try and change the tide.
Iain Hume, Jamal Campbell-Ryce and former Sheffield United man Andy Gray were all thrown into the Barnsley attack as they continued to struggle against the stubborn Owls defence.
Barnsley-born Mark Beevers was enjoying one of the best games this season, or for the last couple of seasons for that fact, while Purse, first-half error aside, was also looking comfortable alongside him.
In fact there were few grumbles you could direct at the hard-working Owls, with JJ leading the candidates for the man-of-the-match accolade.
He could have made it a double, and secured the points for Wednesday, when he used his pace and trickery to get free in the Barnsley box only for his effort to be deflected wide for a corner when he could have done better.
Tom Soares looked to be in a better position to find the back of the net, but nobody could begrudge Johnson going for goal himself.
The Barnsley players, and support, were calling for handball with ten minutes to go, but appeals against Purse fell on deaf ears as the clock ticked away.
And despite five minutes of extra time, the Owls held on pretty comfortably for a well deserved three points.
Full-Time: Barnsley 1-2 Wednesday
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