Norwich 0-1 Wednesday
Carrow Road, Norwich
29/09/07 - 17:20
The tide may well be turning for Brian Laws and his Owls after Wade Small's second half strike gave them their second 1-0 league victory on the spin to see them climb off the bottom of the Championship table at Carrow Road.
Wednesday went on a record-equalling six game losing streak to kick-off the new campaign but now find themselves in a much healthier position following an impressive performance against a somewhat woeful Canaries side in front of the Sky cameras.
Owls boss Brian Laws made a number of changes to the side that fell to defeat against Everton in the Carling Cup in midweek.
Etienne Esajas was still sidelined through injury, giving Wade Small the chance to impress on the left wing, while Deon Burton returned to partner Francis Jeffers in attack, and there were also recalls for Tommy Spurr and Michael Johnson for Peter Gilbert and Richard Hinds respectively.
Both sides were desperate for all three points with Wednesday languishing at the bottom of the division while the Norfolk club were also suffering poor form in the league, with manager Peter Grant describing their last performance in the league as one of the worst since he became involved in football.
And the Canaries, cheered on by an impressive crowd inside Carrow Road, came out of the blocks the quickest and should have gone ahead as Gary Doherty got on the end of an inswinging free-kick to send his header wide from point blank range.
The hosts continued to push forward but the trickery of Darren Huckerby on the City left was thwarted by Frank Simek, who did a superb job of marshalling the former Leeds United and Manchester City man throughout the clash.
But the Owls soon became involved a the other end and came close through a long Francis Jeffers strike while Glenn Whelan saw his header from a Small cross go straight in to the arms of Norwich stopper Ian Marshall.
Norwich continued to carve out the better chances in front of goal and came close as Rossi Jarvis rifled his close range effort over the bar when he should have done better.
Loanee Michael Johnson continued to show his fight for the Owls cause when he went in to clear the danger from a Norwich attack only to be felled by a late lunge from City youngster Michael Spillane.
His fellow loanee Graham Kavanagh, on a one-month deal at S6 from Sunderland, was proving a handful in more ways than one for the Owls after a late challenge saw him pick up a yellow card - and he was lucky not to receive another later on for a challenge on Huckerby.
And it was the Owls who soon took control of proceedings after the first half hour and didn't look back.
First, Wednesday forced a series of corners which were brilliantly delivered by Kavanagh, but the Owls front line failed to get on the end of any of them as Norwich looked relieved to clear the danger.
Although Simek was in a tough fight with Huckerby at the back, he caused as many problems as the Norwich hitman at the other end with his pace and darting runs towards the Norwich box, his final one just before the break being stopped at the final hurdle.
Wednesday were dealt a blow as last week's goalscorer Francis Jeffers was taken off with an injury to be replaced by Marcus Tudgay, and the look on the former Everton man's face said it all as he trudged off and shook his head on leaving the pitch.
But Owls boss Laws will have been the happier of the two managers at the half-time interval as Wednesday took the momentum in to the dressing rooms.
Half-Time: Norwich 0-0 Wednesday
But in the other dressing room, Caaries boss Grant will have been sure to have had stern words with his charges as they looked to appease the Norwich fans inside Carrow Road who were desperate to see their team get back to winning ways.
And they seemed to have worked as City came racing out of the blocks in the early stages of the second half, without causing any real threat to Lee Grant's goal.
The Owls were dealt another blow not long after the restart after Francis Jeffers had been taken off through injury, with Steve Watson this time having to be withdrawn to be replaced by Jermaine Johnson.
The Owls skipper was involved in the best move of the match so far as neat interplay in the Wednesday attack gave him the chance to drive towards goal and unleashing a powerful effort straight in to the arms of Marshall.
And it was that move that saw Watson hobble off to be replaced by the Jamaican.
But it wasn't all bad news for Wednesday, with Johnson's pace set to cause the Norwich defence all kinds of problems going forward, with Glenn Whelan moving to his more preferred central midfield role.
Cityhad probably the best chance of the game moments later as Jamie Cureton dashed in to the Wednesday box before unleahsing a powerful strike which was well guided away by Grant, but only in to the path of the Norwich strike who saw his second effort blocked by Johnson for a corner.
City were having a second burst of life, and the City faithful were starting to get behind their men, while the addition of the pacey Lee Croft on the wing gave the Owls defence something else to worry about.
And the early changes from both sides saw the game become a more open, flowing and entertaining clash for the fans inside the stadium and watching in the sofa back home.
Norwich had a chance through Huckerby which was comfortably dealt with by Grant before the Owls started to show some of the football that won them plaudits last season as some neat play between front pairing Burton and Tudgay gave Whelan the chance to shoot on goal but he hesistated and saw his effort deflected wide.
Johnson als had a couple of golden opportunities for the visitors, first a long range shot went harmlessly over the bar before a neat one-two with Burton saw his left footed shot drift just wide of the goal.
Tudgay then came close when he unleashed a long-range effort inches wide of goal as Wednesday started to up the pressure on their hosts and look the more likely to open the scoring.
And the breakthrough came with just 15 minutes remaining as Simek was left unmarked to drift in to the City box and put a pin-point pass for the oncoming Wade Small to drill in the back of the net.
It was the second goal of the season for the former MK Dons man, and he dashed over to the Owls bench to celebrate what turned out to be the winning goal.
As expected, City pushed forward to try and get something from the game and they tried anything, literally, to get back on level terms as Cureton handballed Jon Otsemobor's cross as he tried to get on the end of it.
But the introduction of Hinds for Spurr late on helped secure the Owls victory and see them climb off the foot of the table for the first time in weeks.
Full-Time: Norwich 0-1 Wednesday
Norwich: Marshall; Otsemobor, Doherty (c), Murray, Drury, Rossi Jarvis, Spillane (Croft 62), Lappin, Huckerby, Brown (Strihavka 74), Cureton. Subs not used: Gilks, Russell, Martin.
Wednesday: Grant, Simek, Wood, M Johnson, Spurr (Hinds 76); Watson (c) (J Johnson 52), Kavanagh, Whelan, Small; Burton, Jeffers (Tudgay 33). Subs not used: Burch, Sodje.
Don't get me wrong, JJ was immense after coming on, but Simek showed brilliance throughout the match, especially with his attacking flair which eventually led to the winning goal. Dealt with the threat of Huckerby throughout.