Date:Saturday January 30 2010
30/01/10 - 3pm
WEDNESDAY bagged their fourth win from five league matches under Alan Irvine with a crucial three points against Championship relegation rivals Plymouth Argyle at Hillsborough.
A Luke Varney double was enough to steer the Owls to their fourth success under Irvine - and their fourth 2-1 success to boot.
The victory was far from pretty, but that will be the last thing for Wednesdayites, and Irvine, to worry about, with three vital points coming Wednesday's way to lift them five points clear of the relegation spots.
Plymouth had much of the second half but failed to break down a stubborn, if sometimes unconvincing, Owls defence.
Indeed, although the second half was poor by Wednesday's recent standards, it was a game that the Owls would have more than likely dropped points, or even lost, just a matter of weeks ago.
Irvine made just the one change to the side that fell to a 2-0 defeat at Scunthorpe United in midweek with Luke Varney starting in place of Leon Clark, who wasn't even included in the squad.
Irvine had highlighted the clash as a big one for Wednesday, relegation 'six pointer' aside, with the Owls boss keen to see how his men responded to their first defeat under his guidance.
And they made a slow start, with Argyle, in a similar good run of form, making the early chances, if failing to really trouble Wednesday stopper Lee Grant.
Both Jamie Mackie and Rory Fallon fired early warning shots towards the Owls goal, but Grant had them both covered as Wednesday struggled to get into gear.
The quality of the action was very much in tune with the two sides playing - both looking to avoid the drop to League 1.
Quality was lacking, and although the desire and determination was there, there was little for the football purist to enjoy on a cold day at Hillsborough.
Even the half-chances dried up as both sides were locked in a midfield battle for much of the first 45 minutes.
That was until midway through the half when the game exploded with two goals in a minute.
First, former Barnsley man Fallon was left unmarked from a Plymouth corner and he had no trouble in firing a header by Grant for the opener to the delight of the small travelling 'Green Army'.
It was a goal that will have no doubt disappointed Irvine, with the former PNE boss focussing his early training on improving what was a weak Owls defence.
The goal was a blow to the home support, but the disappointment was to last less than a minute as Wednesday responded in just the right manner.
The visitors hardly had time to catch their breath before a long ball forward allowed Tudgay to flick on for Varney, who powered his effort into the back of the net for the leveller.
The goal lifted Wednesday and they continued to edge the first half, something which was rewarded with a goal minutes before the half-time whistle.
It was Varney again who found the back of the net, this time thanks to his own hard work as he held off the Plymouth defender, showing plenty of power and pace, before firing a superb low effort by the visiting stopper to turn the game on its head and give Wednesday the lead at the interval.
Wednesday should have been lifted by their late first-half strike, but instead they came out in the second half and showed signs of Wednesday of old, only just holding onto the lead.
Plymouth bossed large spells of the game, but without really troubling Grant's goal.
The Owls' second half performance certainly had the majority of the 22,000-plus inside Hillsborough on the edge of their seats - for all the wrong reasons.
Poor, lazy passes were in abundance by the hosts, and the visitors for the most part, as Wednesday struggled to take control of the game after taking the lead.
To be fair, Argyle did lift their game, they needed to, but Wednesday almost caused their own downfall.
Thankfully for Wednesday, the visitors' play in the final third left much to be desired, although Fallon did come closest for the Pilgrims before Tommy Spurr put in a last-gasp challenge to deny the forward.
Irvine introduced Akpo Sodje in place of the relatively quiet Tom Soares in a bid to change the game, but Sodje's introduction did little to change the flow of the game and he struggled to make an impact.
Frank Simek too was introduced from the bench in place of the injured Lewis Buxton.
Varney continued to work tirelessly in attack, and was Wednesday's man of the match, but he couldn't find his hat-trick goal, something that would have settled the nerves of Owls fans.
All in all though, three points are three points, and lift Wednesday to a much healthier position in the league table.
They needed it too, with in-form Nottingham Forest the next opponents for Wednesday at the City Ground next week.
The Owls will certainly need to put in a much-better performance in the East Midlands to bag anything for their efforts.
Full-Time: Wednesday 2-1 Plymouth
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Date:Saturday January 30 2010
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|12. Sheff Wed||6||2||3||1||1||9|
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