Carlos Carvalhal’s side win for the fifth game in a row to almost confirm their top six spot
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY edged ever closer to the Sky Bet Championship play-offs as goals from Steven Fletcher and Gary Hooper gave them a 2-1 win over Derby.
The win was Wednesday’s first in 13 home matches against Derby and saw Carlos Carvalhal’s side win a fifth consecutive game for the first time since April 2007.
Darren Bent had put the away side ahead early in the second half after beating Kieran Westwood at his near post, but a quick-fire double from Wednesday duo Fletcher and Hooper secured victory for the hosts.
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The win sees Wednesday climb above Huddersfield into fourth place on goal difference after the Terriers lost 4-1 at home to Fulham, while Derby drop below Brentford in 10th.
Wednesday started the stronger of the two sides and Adam Reach should have put the hosts ahead inside 10 minutes after finding himself unmarked in the box, but he could only head Ross Wallace’s teasing cross wide.
Looking to make amends, the winger received the ball in the penalty area and looked to flick it past Cyrus Christie, but instead Reach went to ground and saw the referee wave away his penalty calls.
Chris Baird had replaced the injured Marcus Olsson in the ninth minute and the hosts were exploiting the weaker left foot of the full-back as Steven Fletcher leapt highest to meet Jack Hunt’s drifted cross but headed over the crossbar.
The away side struggled to settle into the match and their best chance of the first half fell to Ikechi Anya, the winger jinked past his marker but drilled his effort at the side-netting.
Wednesday quietened as the first half grew older and Baird looked to awaken the hosts, with the full-back thundering a shot at Westwood from 25 yards which was both high and wide.
Derby thought their winning run at Hillsborough was set to continue after taking the lead inside three second-half minutes. Bent rose above his marker to meet Johnny Russell’s corner and powered a header past Westwood at his near post.
The away side should have doubled their advantage minutes later. Will Hughes weaved his way into the opposition’s box and rounded Westwood but his strike was weak and easily thumped off the line by Wednesday captain Glenn Loovens.
The hosts responded instantaneously. Daniel Pudil’s curled cross met the head of Fletcher, but his attempt crashed against the bar.
However, Fletcher, who had sent a series of chances wide, could not miss when Hooper headed Wallace’s whipped ball back across the box and he simply nodded into an empty net after 58 minutes.
Wednesday completed the comeback six minutes later after a mistake from Scott Carson, who flapped at Reach’s cross and the ball fell for Hooper, who drove it into the bottom left corner.