The first Sheffield derby for over 5 years was an action-packed affair that didn’t disappoint but Wednesday’s back 4 were found wanting as they gifted the visitors’ crucial goals.
The visitors took the lead inside 3 minutes when Fleck struck a fine free-kick past Westwood after the Blades had worked an opening by shifting the ball left.
The Owls were 2-0 down inside 20 minutes when former Wednesday striker Leon Clarke was played onside by a sloppy defensive line after the Owls had cleared a corner to the halfway line. A lofted ball over the top caught Wednesday out of shape and Clarke was left in the clear to beat Westwood with a low strike.
Wednesday struggled to cope with United’s tempo but Gary Hooper’s link play was the main bright spark for the Owls in the opening 45 minutes and on the stroke of half-time he gave his team a lifeline with a deft near post flick to make it 2-1.
Wednesday brought on Lucas Joao for the ineffectual Dave Jones at half-time and for 15 minutes took the game to the visitors without reward. Just as it looked as though United might have seen off Wednesday’s come back a slick move involving Lee, Bannan and Reach resulted in the latter’s low cross picking out Joao who fired home for 2-2.
Hillsborough was bouncing at that point but within a minute the Blades were back in front. Van Aken dithered in allowing substitute Duffy to pick the ball up wide in the box and the midfielder then turned the Dutch defender inside out before firing past Westwood from an acute angle.
The result was still up for grabs until another defensive horror show all but ended the contest. Van Aken again looked slow in allowing Clarke to beat him to the ball on the edge of the area, Lees than failed to make an effective clearance and Clarke nipped in to chip in off the post.
The Owls can have no complaints about the result and must look to bounce back at Birmingham on Wednesday evening.