Some strong half-time words from Garry Monk helped Wednesday turn possible defeat into victory and sixth place in the Championship after a 2-1 success over in-form Brentford at Hillsborough this afternoon.
We struggled to get to grips with the visitors’ neat passing game in the first half and it was no surprise when they took the lead just before the half-hour, Bryan Mbeumo heading home from a corner.
Wednesday had hardly troubled Brentford in the opening 45 minutes and Monk said afterwards: “The first half wasn’t acceptable, we spoke about that at half time and then the second half was what we expect.”
It was the outstanding Steven Fletcher who led the fightback, the striker twice going close before levelling the game after 69 minutes. Rico Henry handled Kadeem Harris’ cross and Fletcher stroked home the penalty almost down the middle of the goal as keeper David Raya went the wrong way.
Four minutes later, it was Fletcher on the mark again as he controlled a centre from Harris and turned to fire past Raya from close range.
We then survived a typically nervy closing few minutes and the victory lifted us into that final play-off place on 32 points, three away from third-placed Fulham but 10 points off the automatic promotion spots.
Monk said: “To be honest, I could have made seven changes at half time because, the first 10 minutes aside, we were so under par.
“But in the second half, we were so much better and we went to those levels where we should be.”
Monk was full of praise for two-goal Fletcher but also highlighted the display of second-half sub, Jordan Rhodes, saying: “I was really pleased for Jordan, he came on and stretched the game.
“He got in behind the defence, created room for Fletch, and caused them problems.
“Fletch is right at it at the moment and he thoroughly deserves the rewards of his hard work.”
He added: “When I came into the club, maybe there was a criticism that when the players fall short of that level, they weren’t able to come back from that type of situation.
“That was something we needed to change, and you can see with the determination these players have got, they want to do that as well.”
Dawson, Odubajo, Iorfa, Lees, Fox, Murphy (Reach 63), Bannan, Hutchinson (Luongo 77), Harris, Fletcher, Nuhiu (Rhodes 46). Att: 22,475.