Vital Match Report - Owls Beat Leaders Newcastle
St James Park
7.45pm Boxing Day 2016
Sheffield Wednesday really sent out of a message to the rest of the league on a windy night in the North East at St James` Park. On a night where Kieran Lee was absent but Bannan and Abdi back in the squad as well as Fernando Forestieri following his suspension, Wednesday could have easily fallen away from Leeds 5th place. United Keeper Karl Darlow made a string of top saves but Owls skipper Loovens scored what was ultimately the only goal of the game.
After Darlow made a diving save to his right from a Tom Lees header following a Wednesay corner, diminutive forward Forestieri nodded back into the box into the path of Loovens who scored what was surprisingly his first goal for the club.
Wednesday could have scored more with Palmer and Wallace wasteful, and Darlow in inspired form, saving from Fletcher and Foresteiri. Westwood was also tested, most potently by Gayle, but Wednesday were value for the 3 points in truth.
Early on you could see why Newcastle are taking the league by storm. Newcastle showed quality in the things that they did. They got it wide quickly and effectively and the crosses coming in looked dangerous every time.
It looked like it might be a long night and early on. Wednesday villain and ex Hull City star Mo Diame linked up with top scorer Gayle, who forced Westwood into a good save, managing to push it onto the post. This before Ciaran Clark found himself free in the Wednesday box to nod wide form a corner.
Halfway through the half Wednesday nearly took the lead. A Fletcher flick found Forestieri who fed Pudil wide. His low cross canned off a Newcastle leg and sat up for Fletcher who volleyed goal ward only for Darlow to tip over the bar.
From the resulting corner Fletcher headed back into the box with a combination of keeper and striker Gayle keeping Forestieri`s close range effort out. Fletchers wild shot on the rebound went through the box and found Wallace meandering into the scene of play after his corner taking duties. He cut onto his left foot and blasted a curling effort aimed for the far corner over the net.
Newcastle were looking dangerous with obvious quality, and they were getting a lot of corners and free kicks in promising areas.
However it was Wednesday creating chances. An inch perfect Diagonal ball from Hutchinson found Palmer streaking forward who cut in past his defender with his first touch out of the air. With Forestieri and Fletcher free in the box, Palmer got his shot horribly wrong.
The second half continued in the vein of the first. Bannan, who was having as good a game for Wednesday as he has had in the last couple of months, combined with Pudil, another effective outlet on the night, and flashed a cross over for Fletcher.
It looked like a dead cert goal but Darlow made his best save of the night to keep out the point blank effort.
He was finally beaten though in the 53rd minute but this came after probably his best save of the night. A full stretch dive kept out Tom Lee`s goal bound header, but he could only push it out to Forestieri, who headed back across into the path of the oncoming Owls Captain Loovens, who powered a header home.
The Wednesday fans went ecstatic, and it was no more than was deserved from an Owls team who had taken then game to Wednesday.
Newcaslte immediately picked up the pace and it was the remaining period where Wednesday keeper Westwood was called into key action. A Goufron header trickled inches wide, before Westwood made a spectacular save from Atsu after he cut in and shot. Westwood then made an easier save from a weak Clarke header.
Despite this Wednesday looked comfortable on the most part even at 1 up. With Newcastle coming onto them, Hutchinson dominated and Westwood was as reliable as ever when called upon. They looked incredibly competent at winning the game one nil once they had scored and it looked a good sign for Wednesday over the season.