Second-half comeback sees United claim 2-1 win at Hillsborough...
WEDNESDAY 1 (Maguire pen 36), UNITED 2 (C Taylor 57, Morison 72).
Wednesday: Westwood, Buxton, Semedo, Vermijl, Lees, Isgrove (Keane 64), Helan (Bus 85), Lavery, Maghoma (May 64), Maguire, Lee. Subs. Kirkland, Nuhiu, De Havilland, Melo.
United: S Taylor, Wootton, Bamba, Cooper, Berardi, Byram, Mowatt (Sharp 70), Murphy, Austin, C Taylor, Morison. Subs. Cairns, White, Ngoyi, Sloth, Phillips, Montenegro.
Referee: R Madley
Booked: Helan (Wednesday), Bamba, Murphy (United)
Att: 28,227 (3,998 United)
The final away trip of the 2014/15 season, a lunchtime visit to Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday, saw United head coach Neil Redfearn make one change from the previous weekend's loss at Charlton as Gaetano Berardi returned to the side in place of Billy Sharp. There was also a return to the matchday squad for Aidy White, who had been out of action since a pre-season ankle injury.
It was a typically lively atmosphere for the occasion at Hillsborough, and that reflected in the frantic pace at which the game started as United found themselves in front of goal inside the opening minute. Sam Byram’s perseverance on the edge of the area paid off, winning the ball and slipping Alex Mowatt through on goal, only for Keiren Westwood to deny the midfielder with his legs and divert behind.
Wednesday then threatened through Caolan Lavery, cutting inside on the edge of the area before curling a right-footed effort over Stuart Taylor’s bar and into the stand housing the travelling fans.
It was Redfearn’s men who had enjoyed the better early sights of goal, though, and Mowatt was agonisingly close from opening the scoring on 15 minutes with a curling free-kick after the advancing Byram had been hauled down right on the edge of the box.
An evenly-matched period followed as both sides got to grips with the visibly worn Hillsborough pitch. Taylor was well-positioned to claw away Chris Maguire’s dangerous corner under immense pressure, while Mowatt saw his low strike blocked inside a crowded area as United probed for a way through.
But it was the hosts who managed to open the scoring after 36 minutes through Maguire’s penalty. Byram was adjudged to have clipped Lloyd Isgrove inside the area and Maguire was able to convert from 12 yards, calmly sending Taylor diving in the opposite direction.
The goal put Wednesday on the front foot and Taylor was called upon to tip Tom Lees’ back-post header over the bar with the first half approaching three minutes of stoppage time. Mowatt then clipped the wall with a 30-yard free-kick, but the referee’s half-time whistle signalled the end of a frustrating opening 45 minutes for United.
The two sides re-emerged unchanged and Wednesday soon had the second half’s first sight of goal, but Taylor comfortably held Maguire’s ambitious free-kick from distance.
With United now attacking towards their 4,000-strong away support, Rudy Austin scuffed an effort wide from the edge of the area after Mowatt’s free-kick had fallen into his path, while Sol Bamba and Liam Cooper just got in each other’s way following another Mowatt set-piece.
But the equaliser was on its way and duly came after 57 minutes as Charlie Taylor slotted home his second goal for the club. Luke Murphy’s free-kick was initially blocked by the Wednesday wall, but the ball was scrambled into the path of Taylor to tuck underneath Westwood and spark scenes of pandemonium among the travelling fans.
The hosts looked to mount a quick response, with Maguire firing over on the turn, before making a double substitution to introduce Will Keane and Stevie May.
Lavery whipped a dangerous-looking ball across the face of goal, which Taylor was happy to see bounce behind, and May nodded a corner behind, before Redfearn was prompted into his first change of the afternoon on 70 minutes, replacing the tireless Mowatt with Sharp.
And the striker was involved almost immediately, playing his part as United took the lead for the first time of the afternoon. Some industrious play from Sharp freed up Byram to stride forward before slotting Morison through on goal. His initial attempt was kept out by the feet of Westwood, but the striker’s composure told as he placed his second goal in as many games into the bottom corner from an acute angle.
United were now playing with an air of confidence, and another swift breakaway saw Morison cut the ball back for Taylor inside the area, but his low strike was well blocked in front of goal. Austin smashed an outrageous half-volley over Westwood’s bar from distance, before the midfielder then cut apart the home defence with a surging run, but Taylor was unable to get his shot away.
The hosts looked to apply the pressure inside four minutes of added time, but United stood firm to clinch the Yorkshire derby spoils.