Wednesday 2-1 Leicester
14/01/06 - 15:00
Wednesday secured a third successive Championship victory - and put distance between themselves and visitors Leicester City this afternoon thanks to goals from Chris Brunt and Graham Coughlan.
The Foxes took the lead early on when Richard Stearman's spectacular overhead kick ended up in the back of the Owls net. A contender for goal of the season from Chris Brunt and a header from Graham Coughlan secured three vital points for the Owls, who now sit 19th in the Championship.
Paul Sturrock welcomed back four players to the side. John Hills returned from suspension, Nicky Weaver was also welcomed back after Manchester City refused to let the 'keeper play in the cup match against Charlton last weekend. Deon Burton was cup-tied last week after featuring for Rotherham in the earlier stages, but he came back to partner Marcus Tudgay in attack. Peter Gilbert also returned to face his former team.
Leicester were without the on-loan Ryan Smith, who was suspended - as was key midfielder Joey Gudjonsson. Momo Sylla was refused permission from Guinea to return from African Cup of Nations duty, and Danny Tiatto was also suspended. Elvis Hammond and Patrick Kisnorbo came in to the side that beat Spurs last week.
The Foxes started the better of the two sides in this relegation clash, and Wednesday fans feared the worst when they took the lead after just seven minutes. Gareth Williams' corner was somehow turned out of the danger area, but hot prospect Richard Stearman managed to produce a magnificent overhead kick to give the Foxes a 1-0 lead.
Wednesday nearly managed to hit back straight away though, when a long ball by Chris Brunt found Richard Wood unmarked at the bakc post. Woody headed the ball back across the goalmouth and Graham Coughlan nearly got on the end of it, but it went harmlessly in to the arms of Rab Douglas in the Leicester goal.
Leicester knew they couldn't lie bakc on a 1-0 lead, and took the game to their hosts despite leading. They had a decent chance at the Leppings Lane end when Nicky Weaver smartly turned an Elvis Hammond effort around the post to keep Wednesday in the tie.
Leicester were looking dangerous going forward, and it took a moment of magic from Chris Brunt to level the game for the hosts. Brunt managed to dribble his way past two foxes midfielders before completing a one-two with Glenn Whelen. Brunt found himself in acres of space at the edge of the Foxes box and launched his unstoppable left foot effort past Douglas to make it 1-1.
The effort lifted the 25,000 strong crowd, and Wednesday were in the driving seat. Just seven minutes later the impressive John Hills twisted and turned at the edge of the Leicester box and produced a pin-point cross for Graham Coughlan to net his sixth goal of the season.
The game had been giving much more than the relegation six pointer tag had advertised beforehand. Both teams were clearly desperate for all three points and it was the Owls who took the lead in to the break.
Paul Sturrock made no changes to his side at the start of the second half but Leicester manager Craig Levein mae one change in a bid to change the fortunes of his side. Patrik Gerrbrand was brought on to replace Richard Stearman, who seemed to leave the field with an injury.
Leicester started the brighter of the two side in the second half and it was to stay that way until the final whistle. Leicester had a the bulk of the possession but created little in front of goal, to the frustration of striker Mark De Vries who was booked as a result of his frustration.
Leicester made there second change of the match when Elvis Hammond was brought off and Iain Hume came on to replace him. Cries of 'You don't know what you're doing' rang from the Leicester end, as pressure on boss Craig Levein increased.
Hume was nearly involved in the Foxes equaliser when his neat one-two with the highly-rated Stephen Hughes nearly resulted in the striker putting the ball wide to the delight of the Kop.
It seemed that every time Wednesday cleared the danger, the ball just came straight back at them. Manager Paul Sturrock noticed this and brought on Barry Corr to replace Marcus Tudgay, in a bid for the Irish forward to hold the ball up and relieve some pressure from in front the Owls goal.
Former Owls target Matty Fryatt then came on to replace Joe Hamill, to the cheers of the travelling Foxes behind Rab Douglas' goal.
Fryatt was almost through on goal and nearly capitalised on a rare defensive error by the Owls as Nicky Weaver rushed from his goal to clear the danger but instead hacked down the former Walsall hitman on the touchline.
Fryatt also found his way through on goal after a long ball cought the Owls defence napping, but Frank Simek and Richard Wood were on hand to recover and clear the danger.
Glenn Whelen looked to have a dead leg late in the first half but he continued playing until the final ten minutes when he was replaced with Lee Bullen.
Leicester's huffing and puffing had created little in the form of chances, but they nearly snatched a late equaliser through Mark De Vries, but the striker's low shot forced a magnificent save from Nicky Weaver in the Owls goal.
The fourth official raised four minutes added time to the surprise of the Wednesday faithful, but the Owls managed to hold out for a vital three points, and a third consecutive win - bring on the Leeds!
How many times has this man been the man of the match? Another magnificent defensive performance from the former Plymouth Argyle man. Coughlan and Wood played magnificently at the back, snuffing out everything the Foxes had to throw at them in the second half. Also notched up his six goal of the season, which turned out to be the winner.
Paul Sturrock told BBC Sport:
'I was a bit disappointed we just sat back on what we had during the second half.
'But it was a big one to come back after conceding four goals against Charlton last week.'
Craig Levein told BBC Sport:
'Maybe it is a reality check. It was the players who played against Spurs and there is inconsistency.
'They probably don't see themselves as relegation candidates and that doesn't help us.'