Wednesday 3-1 Chesterfield
08/10/11 - 3pm
WEDNESDAY made it six home wins out of six to enjoy their best home start to a season in 30 years with a 3-1 victory over near neighbours Chesterfield.
Goals from Lewis Buxton, Gary Madine and Ben Marshall helped the Owls up to second in the npower League One table, although Leon Clarke returned S6 to score for the Spireites and make it a nervy end for the majority of the 24,000-plus inside Hillsborough.
It was arguably the toughest victory on home soil this season for Gary Megson and his men, with Chesterfield boss John Sheridan disappointed that his men didn't leave his former stomping ground with anything to show for their efforts.
But Wednesday took their chances, rode their luck a little at the back, and maintained their winning momentum ahead of next week's big Sheffield derby at Bramall Lane - the victory moved Wednesday five points ahead of the Blades.
Megson brought Julian Bennett into the back four in place of Reda Johnson, who was away on international duty with Benin, while Chris O'Grady was preferred up front alongside Gary Madine instead of David McGoldrick.
The Owls came into the game with plenty of confidence, and it showed early on as Wednesday dominated the opening exchanges. The hosts looked most threatening from set-pieces, of which they had plenty early on, but when Rob Jones did flick the ball on from one such corner former Owl Drew Talbot was well-positioned to clear the danger.
The Owls were playing some attractive, attacking football and it was no surprise when the breakthrough came 17 minutes in through Buxton.
Marshall provided the assist from a corner and Buxton rose high above his marker to head beyond Greg Fleming, the Chesterfield goalkeeper, and into the back of the net for the opener.
The Owls had bossed the opening half hour but the visitors did get themselves back into the game and finished the first half on top.
But despite having more of the ball, Owls goalkeeper Stephen Bywater, who was yet to concede a goal in Wednesday colours going into the match, had little to do between the sticks. Talbot saw an effort drift wide of the post, but the stubborn Owls defence had their opponents largely in check.
At the other end, Chris O'Grady tried to mark his full home debut with a goal but he was a whisker away from connecting to a cross from Buxton.
Half-Time: Wednesday 1-0 Chesterfield
The visitors ended the first half on top and that's just how they started the second, no doubt sensing a way back into the contest.
All the ball was in the Wednesday half and they couldn't seem to get it back off a Chesterfield side that made a lightning quick start to the second half, no doubt boosted by some words of wisdom from Sheridan at the interval.
Clarke, a bit of a pantomime villain for some Owls fans, came close to silencing his critics when he headed an effort just wide as the Spireites looked to turn chances into goals.
Worried by Chesterfield's impressive spell of pressure, Megson made his first change early after the restart with James O'Connor being replaced by Jermaine Johnson, available again after a three-game suspension.
It helped change the flow of the game, although Wednesday's second was somewhat against the run of play, and Greg Fleming should have done better when Madine struck just before the hour mark.
The on-song striker was given space at the edge of the box and he struck a powerful effort which flew through the hands of Fleming and into the bottom corner for his tenth goal in as many games this season.
It gave the hosts a much-needed cushion after a spell of Chesterfield possession, and the tempo died down as Wednesday looked to sit back on their 2-0 lead and Chesterfield struggled to break through the home defence.
Chris Sedgwick was brought on in place of O'Grady with 19 minutes to go to tried add more defensive options, but the visitors gave themselves a lifeline with ten minutes to go when they reduced the deficit.
It just had to be Clarke, returning to play at Hillsborough for the first time since his departure, as he turned in a Randall cross to make it a nervy final ten minutes for Wednesdayites.
Chesterfield threatened to get on level terms, with the Owls still happy to sit back and invite pressure, but Marshall secured the three points late on.
The on-loan winger carried the ball towards goal before turning and producing a neat finish into bottom corner to make sure of the points for Wednesday. It could have got better but Madine saw his close-range shot well saved by Fleming.
It brought an end to an entertaining afternoon of football at S6, one which took Wednesday into the automatic promotion spots.
Wednesday: Bywater, Buxton, Batth, Jones, Bennett, O'Connor (J Johnson 53), Semedo, Lines, Marshall, Madine (McGoldrick 90), O'Grady (Sedgwick 72). Unused substitutes: O'Donnell, Reynolds.
Chesterfield: Fleming, Talbot, Howden, Downes, Grounds, Mendy, Allott (Whitaker 76), Randall, Westcarr (Bowery 46), Clarke, Morgan. Unused substitutes: Smith, Clay, Ford.