Two first-half goals from Michael Smith against his former club, Rotherham, took Wednesday to our first Championship win of the season at Hillsborough today.
Smith’s double capped an impressive display from the Owls, particularly in the first-half when we could – and should – have been at least four-up by half time.
It also marked an opening win for new manager Danny Ruhl in his first home game in charge, his side showing the aggression, sharpness, slick passing and teamwork so lacking under previous boss, Xisco Munoz.
The victory sees us still at the foot of the table, now on six points, within two of QPR in 23rd and a further place and point behind Rotherham, while the gap to next-placed Huddersfield – and safety – is down to eight points.
We began the game in attacking fashion and were ahead on 11 minutes. Barry Bannan sent Anthony Musaba scampering through down the left and when his angled drive was blocked by keeper Viktor Johansson, the winger turned the rebound back for Smith to stab the ball home from inside the six-yard box and in front of the Rotherham fans who had been booing his every touch in the opening stages.
On 25 minutes, George Byers skied a good chance from 20 yards and then Musaba turned provider for Windass but he sidefooted the opening over the bar when he should have at least hit the target.
However, the second goal that our approach play deserved came 10 minutes from half time, Windass picked out Musaba in the box and he managed to turn the ball on for Smith to slot home under Johansson from eight yards.
And there was still time for Wednesday to miss our best chance of the half, Musaba somehow sending his header into the ground and over the bar from just three yards out.
Soon after the interval, Windass spotted Johannson off his line and tried his luck with a speculative 35-yarder that wasn’t far wide of the Kop goal before Rotherham had their first effort of note just before the hour, Fred Onyedinma firing well over the bar from close range after Wednesday had struggled to clear.
Smith then went close to completing a hat-trick with 20 minutes left on the clock, taking a pass from Windass and shooting just past Johannson’s right-hand post in our final attacking threat of the game.
It was a largely low-key second-half display from Wednesday, compared to the first 45, but on the final whistle the majority of the 29,00 crowd – along with manager Rohl and his team – rightly celebrated that long-awaited and thoroughly deserved three points.
Hopefully, the display will bring much-needed confidence to the squad as Rohl prepares them for a trip to Bristol City next Saturday, the Robins having today sacked manager and former Wednesday skipper Nigel Pearson.
Dawson, Iorfa, Bernard, Diaby, James, Byers (Vaulks 63), Bannan, Musaba (Buckley 73), Paterson (Valentin 79), Windass (Gassama 79), Smith. Unused subs: Vasquez, Johnson, Ihiekwe, Gregory, Cadamarteri. Attendance: 29,038.