Wednesday 2-0 Ipswich
09/04/07 - 15:00
Wednesday made it two wins from two over the Easter period and made it nine games unbeaten as they swept aside a lacklustre Ipswich side thanks to second half strikes from Glenn Whelan and Steve Maclean.
The game was anything but a spectacle and had a certain 'end of season' feel about it until the Owls burst in to life after the break - but Wednesday could yet have something to play for with the play-offs still within reach after results favoured Brian Laws' men.
And on recent performances there's no reason why Wednesday cannot finish the season unbeaten and maybe even sneak a place in the top six with four games remaining this campaign.
Despite going eight games unbeaten and coming in to the game fresh off an impressive 2-1 win away at promotion-chasing Cardiff City, Brian Laws still made two changes to his side for the visit of the Tractor Boys.
Left-back Peter Gilbert was left out of the squad after picking up an injury late on in the clash with the Bluebirds, so youngster Tommy Spurr got another chance to add to his experience in his place.
Leon Clarke continued in the Owls attack after netting in his first start for the club at the weekend, but strike partner Deon Burton was rested to allow Steve Maclean another shot alongside the former Wolves man.
Laws kicked off his managerial reign at S6 in fine style in the reverse fixture at Portman Road back in November with a 2-0 win, and the same scoreline was to be repeated as Wednesday made it a league double.
But the start left a lot to be desired for the 23,000-plus crowd inside Hillsborough as neither side clicked in to gear in a scrappy opening.
And if anything, it was Jim Magilton's men who were enjoying the better of the possession - mainly thanks to some unusually sloppy play from Wednesday early on.
And former Rotherham United hitman Alan Lee had the best chance on goal in the opening stages as he saw a long-range free-kick expertly tipped over the bar from the in-form Iain Turner in the Owls goal.
Ipswich looked like a side with no pressure on them as they came in to the final furlong of the season in mid-table, and it was former Arsenal and Everton 'fox in the box' Francis Jeffers who almost broke the deadlock minutes later as he crashed a close-range effort against the Wednesday bar after breaking free of his marker in the box.
Wednesday still looked threatening on the break with Chris Brunt and Kenny Lunt on top form with their long range passing, but they rarely threatened the Ipswich goal as the visitors' defence held firm.
Northern Irish international Brunt was clearly being targeted by the Ipswich defence following his fine form, and he was unable to be his usual creative self in the first half as the Wednesday faithful became frustrated by the lack of opportunities in front of goal.
The Owls' best chance of the half came from the most unlikely source as defender Richard Wood bust a gut running forward to get on the end of some neat play between Whelan and Marcus Tudgay, but the Wakefield born defender couldn't steer his effort goalwards.
The effort saw Wednesday up the tempo before the break and they took the momentum in to a superb second half opening.
Half-Time: Wednesday 0-0 Ipswich Town
Owls boss Brian Laws was keen to give the Wednesday fans value for money until the end of the season and will have had some harsh words for his men at the break.
And Wednesday responded in the best possible manner as Glenn Whelan raced through just three minutes after the restart before firing a superb low effort by Ipswich stopper Lewis Price to give the Owls the lead.
Credit has to be made to Leon Clarke who paved the way for Whelan to race through the Town backline without a challenge to fire the Owls ahead.
The early goal lifted both sides and made for a more entertaining second-half affair with both sides coming close to netting.
Ipswich defender Jason De Vos came close to levelling for the visitors ten minutes later but the stubborn Owls defence blocked his effort from a Garvan corner before a counter-attack from the set-piece almost saw Steve Maclean give the Owls a second goal, only for Price to produce a top-class save to deny the Scotsman.
But Maclean wasn't to be denied for a second time as he found himself on the end of a Kenny Lunt through-ball to smash the ball by Price to double Wednesday's advantage just before the hour mark.
The Owls hitman looked to be slightly offside when he latched on to the ball, but the linesman kept his flag by his side and the former Scunthorpe man netted to continue his impressive goalscoring form and give Laws a headache when it comes to handing out new contracts at the end of the season.
But the goal seemed to relax the hosts somewhat too much, although Brunt almost scored a sensational goal direct from a corner kick.
To their credit, Jim Magilton's men never gave up and they came close when Lee headed straight at Iain Turner from a Gavin Williams corner kick while Francis Jeffers' free-kick smashed against the woodwork and the rebound was hit high over the bar from point blank range.
The game could have ended with some gloss on the result for Brian Laws' men as Brunt was denied by the feet of Price late-on.
But it was a relatively comfortable afternoon for Wednesday who kept their slim hopes of a play-off place in tact with victory ahead of the tough clash away at West Brom live on Sky this Friday.
Full-Time: Wednesday 2-0 Ipswich Town
Wednesday: Turner; Bullen, Watson, Wood, Spurr; Tudgay, Whelan, Lunt (Folly 75), Brunt; MacLean, Clarke (Burton 63). Subs not used: Adamson, Hills, Lekaj.
Ipswich: Price; Wilnis, De Vos, Bruce, Wright; Roberts (Harding), Williams, Garvan, Haynes (Walters); Lee, Jeffers. Subs not used: Supple, Peters, O'Callaghan.
The on-loan Baggies player will be a big miss for Brian Laws when he takes his men to the Hawthornes for the clash with the promotion-hopefuls this Friday night. Watson started as a centre-back but found himself helping out all over the park as he produced arguably his best performance since moving to Hillsborough on-loan. Solid at the back and supporting in attack, Watson could well have impressed the Owls gaffer enough to earn a permanent deal at the end of the campaign with his superb performances of late.
Brian Laws told BBC Sport
'They have dug in deep and it wasn't pretty at times but in the second half we took control and in the end just about deserved it.
'You need a bit of luck to get a clean sheet because they are very rare.'
Jim Magilton told BBC Sport
'We could have shown a little more quality on the ball though, especially in the final third where we lacked a cutting edge.
'We have to lick our wounds, pick ourselves up and get back on track for a very important game against Derby.'
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