Wednesday 2-0 Rochdale
06/08/11 - 3pm
WEDNESDAY produced a solid display to ease by Rochdale and get their npower League One campaign off to a winning start at a sunny Hillsborough this afternoon.
Captain Rob Jones opened the scoring in the first half before David Prutton, another new summer addition, took the plaudits with a thunderbolt which ensured a winning start for Gary Megson's men.
The Owls were in control throughout the contest and Owls stopper Nicky Weaver was rarely threatened.
It was nothing spectacular, but it was 'job done' as far as Wednesday were concerned, and Owls fans can take plenty of positives from the season opener.
Megson went with 4-4-2, with Gary Madine partnering Clinton Morrison in attack, while there were league debuts in the blue and white for Julian Bennett, Prutton and Jose Semedo. Liam Palmer was also somewhat of a surprise inclusion in the starting eleven.
Rochdale made the trip to Hillsborough not really knowing what to expect following the departure of Keith Hill to Barnsley and the appointment of Steve Eyre as his successor.
Forward Chris O'Grady, a target of Wednesday during the summer, wasn't fit enough for a place in the starting eleven and had to make do with a place on the bench.
The day had started pretty glum weather-wise, but the sun shone for the big kick-off as over 21,000 spilled into S6.
It was a sluggish start and the visitors created the first half chance, and one of their better chances of the game, just minutes after kick-off when Lewis Buxton deflected a Nicky Adams effort wide.
Wednesday soon settled into their stride and started to enjoy more of the possession, bossing much of play without causing too many problems in front of goal.
Madine was almost in for Wednesday's first chance on goal but Rochdale stopper Jake Kean came rushing from his goal to divert the danger.
New addition Bennett arrived at Hillsborough with a good reputation from his days at Nottingham Forest, but he wasn't particularly well known to Owls fans as being a long-throw specialist.
That was until he provided Jones with the opener after 16 minutes.
Bennett dried the ball down with a towel and launched a pin-point long-throw into the box, which landed on the head of the towering Jones and Kean couldn't do anything about a powerful header which found the back of the net.
It gave the Owls a boost and they twice came close to doubling their advantage, first through Madine, who got on the end of a neat passage of passing play by the hosts but could only drift a tame shot into the arms of Kean.
Second, Morrison was well-positioned after the visiting goalkeeper spilled the ball from a deep ball but he slipped at the vital moment and the visitors cleared the danger.
Chris Sedgwick and Palmer both fired efforts high and wide over the bar and into the visiting supporters as Wednesday went into the interval in full control of the contest.
Half-Time: Wednesday 1-0 Rochdale
At 1-0 the Spotland side were still very much in the contest but they had to show signs of improvement and they did just that immediately after the restart.
Eyre's men started with an attacking purpose which was missing in the first 45 minutes and Weaver was forced into a low save after kick-off before Ashley Grimes came a whisker away from levelling when he hit the woodwork from distance.
The Owls soon regained control of the game though and could have grabbed the next goal themselves only for Madine to see his effort hit the post from a Chris Sedgwick corner.
Wednesday were looking threatening from set-pieces throughout and the visitors were struggling with the pin-point deliveries and aerial threat that was being posed in the box.
The hosts always looked the more likely to add the next goal and it came with just under 20 minutes of normal times remaining through a Prutton screamer.
Again, it came as a result of a Wednesday corner but this time the visitors cleared the danger, only for Prutton to pick up the clearance at the edge of the box and lash an unstoppable volley into the back of the net before wheeling away to celebrate in front of the Kop.
It was a moment of magic from Prutton, who looks sure to be a key signing for Wednesday this season, and put Wednesday firmly in the driving seat for three opening day points.
James O'Connor and Jon Otsemobor were both brought on for Morrison and Sedgwick respectively to shore things up, and Wednesday comfortably saw out the remaining minutes for victory.
Full-Time: Wednesday 2-0 Rochdale
Owls: Weaver, Buxton, R Jones, Batth, Bennett, Palmer (D Jones 90), Semedo, Prutton, Sedgwick (Otsemobor 85), Madine, Morrison (O'Connor 81). Unused substitutes: O'Donnell, R Johnson.
Rochdale: Kean, Darby, Widdowson, Holness, Trotman, Kennedy, Jones, Grimes, Adams, Tutte (O'Grady 72), Akpa Akpro. Unused substitutes: Lucas, Twaddle, Thompson, Marshall.