Wednesday 1-0 United
26/2/12 - 1pm
Chris O'Grady's second-half header was enough to give Wednesday a crucial derby day victory over Sheffield United at Hillsborough on Sunday.
In a game where chances were few and far between O'Grady struck his seventh goal of the season with 17 minutes to go, giving the Owls the bragging rights and getting their stuttering season somewhat back on track following four straight defeats.
The Blades came close through Lee Williamson in the first-half when his free-kick came back off the bar and inches from crossing the line, but the hosts dealt with United's attacking threat well throughout.
United were slight favourites going into the game thanks to their recent good form and the pressure was on Wednesday. Rumours of Gary Megson being sacked were quickly dismissed by the Owls last week but they still lingered on in the weekend papers. Defeat for the owls would also have made their chances of getting into the top two extremely slim.
Despite Wednesday's disappointing 1-0 defeat at Chesterfield last time out Megson kept faith with ten of the eleven that started that clash. The only change was a forced one, with the injured Jermaine Johnson being replaced by new loan signing Michail Antonio in midfield.
The first half brought no goals but plenty of entertainment as both sides traded attacking threats. Former Owl Richard Cresswell had the first opportunity for the visitors, shooting towards their own fans in the first half, but Stephen Bywater comfortably dealt with the danger.
United settled down quicker, having more of the ball in the first ten minutes as the Owls looked to find their feet in front of the sell-out Hillsborough crowd.
Reda Johnson had the Owls' first effort but he headed Chris Lines's corner over the bar.
United came inches away from breaking the deadlock 16 minutes in with their best chance of the match. A foul on the edge of the box allowed Williamson to step-up and send a dipping free-kick over the Owls wall only to come back off the woodwork and bounce the wrong side of the line, as far as United were concerned.
The game was more even as the half progressed and Ryan Lowe came inches away from connecting to a dangerous low cross by Antonio, who looked good in his Owls debut.
Wednesday had a chance from a well-positioned free-kick at the other end but Steve Simonsen, the Blades stopper, had little trouble in keeping his effort out.
It was Wednesday's last chance of the half, although United had a half chance at the other end before the half-time whistle when Evans sent a long-range drive wide.
Half-Time: Wednesday 0-0 United
The Owls came flying out of the traps at the start of the second half and O'Grady headed wide from an Antonio cross before the former then flashed a powerful low drive just wide of Simonsen's goal.
Antonio, who signed on-loan from Reading this week, was growing in confidence as the game progressed and looks a good recruit by Megson until the end of the season.
The game perhaps dropped down a gear after Wednesday's impressive start in the first five minutes of the second half, something which will have suited United. A draw would have been better for Danny Wilson and his men than Wednesday.
It needed a change and Wednesday's first came with Gary Madine being introduced for Lowe, while Mike Jones followed him onto the pitch shortly after, with David Prutton coming off.
The changes gave Wednesday some freshness in their attacking play and they paid off in the 74th minute.
It was two players on from the start, however, who were involved in the Owls' goal. Lewis Buxton provided the cross for O'Grady to neatly steer his header beyond Simonsen and into the back of the net to spark wild celebrations amongst the majority of the 36,000-plus inside S6.
United made all three substitutions in five minutes as they looked desperately to grab something from the game but, unlike Megson's changes, the subs for Wilson didn't work out.
The Blades did have one last golden opportunity to get on level terms but Will Hoskins, unmarked in the box, saw his header brilliantly tipped to safety by Bywater as Wednesday held on with relative ease for the three vital points.
Full-Time: Wednesday 1-0 United
Wednesday: Bywater, Buxton, Batth, R Jones, R Johnson Semedo, Prutton (M Jones 64), Lines, Antonio, Lowe (Madine 59), O'Grady. Unused substitutes: Weaver, Llera, Morrison.
United: Simonsen, Lowton, Maguire, Jean-Francois, Montgomery (Flynn 80), Doyle, Quinn (Beattie 86), Evans, Williamson, Collins, Cresswell (Hoskins 85). Unused substitutions: Howard, Ertl.
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