Championship Analysis – Sheffield Wednesday off the mark at last

It was anything but unlucky 13 at Hillsborough on Saturday as Sheffield Wednesday finally achieved their first victory of the season and in spectacular style, hammering Reading 5-2. Indeed, it was a terrific weekend all round for the Owls as, such were results elsewhere, the win was enough to propel them from bottom to beyond the relegation zone for the first time since October 1.

In usual circumstances a team that fails to win its opening 12 fixtures is left adrift, but Wednesday have taken the notion of being hard to beat near to its extremes, with eight of those matches ending in draws. In fact, only the current top six have lost fewer games. Of their four defeats, three were by the odd goal, the other being a freak 4-1 thrashing at Birmingham, who ironically were one of the teams they leapfrogged on Saturday.

As such it was always going to be simply a matter of time before the win arrived, although fifth-placed Reading were perhaps the surprise victims of such a resounding beating. Not that manager Dave Jones was complaining, commenting after the game: “I feel it’s the reward for the players for the hard work that they’ve been doing. We just needed to turn the draws into wins and everything that could go for us went for us and these are the days you’ve got to enjoy. It’s been coming. All that frustration and bad luck came good.

Yeovil returned to the foot of the table after a 2-0 defeat to Leeds, Barnsley’s draw at Ipswich wasn’t enough to prevent the Tykes slipping to 23rd, and Birmingham’s slide came additionally as the result of a 1-0 defeat to Charlton, who were previously below them.

At the other end of the table, the top seven are unchanged. Burnley remain leaders despite their seven-match winning run finally coming to an end at the New Den in an entertaining 2-2 draw with Millwall. Sean Dyche, however, can take heart from the fact his side managed to claw back a two-goal deficit, claiming afterwards: “Their second goal sprang us into life, we couldn’t get out of a fog in the first 30 minutes.

Having also held QPR to a 2-2 draw two weeks previously, ending the Hoops’ long stretch without conceding a goal, Millwall could be perceived somewhat to be party poopers, but Steve Lomas’ team have now gone five games without a win and sit in 18th place.

Leicester’s fine 3-0 win at Watford, their third on the trot and fifth in six matches, meant the Foxes closed the gap on Burnley to a single point, and QPR’s victory over Derby – the Rams’ first loss under Steve McClaren – was enough to keep them only a further point adrift. Blackpool enjoyed a last-gasp victory at Nottingham Forest in what was another of the promotion race’s significant fixtures. It was Forest’s second successive defeat after a surprise loss to Yeovil the previous week, but equally it gave the Tangerines breathing space in fourth and Paul Ince’s side still have the leaders in their sights.

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