Ten-man Wednesday restored our three-point lead at the top of division one with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Portsmouth this afternoon.
A cracking early goal from Josh Windass proved the difference between the two sides and, with nearest rivals Plymouth going down 3-0 at Barnsley, we now head the table on 77 points with the Pilgrims three behind, having also played two more games than us and with a far inferior goal difference.
Third-placed Ipswich moved to within two points of Plymouth with a 2-0 victory at Bolton but we have two matches in hand on them as well, as the challenge for the two automatic promotion places reaches the business part of the season.
We also achieved the success at Fratton Park despite having to play the last 13 minutes with 10 men, Dominic Iorfa being booked for time-wasting and then receiving a second yellow card for a challenge on Connor Ogilvie.
The Owls were quick to quieten the always vociferous Pompey crowd with Windass shooting us in front after just 11 minutes with a spectacular route one goal.
Michael Smith headed on Cameron Dawson’s long clearance perfectly to send Windass running clear inside the penalty area, the striker then firing low across keeper Matt Macey and into the far corner in clinical fashion.
As expected, the home side came more into the game as the half progressed but failed to test Dawson with shots on target.
However, they went close to an equaliser just after half time when Colby Bishop saw his close-range flick blocked at the near post by Dawson while Wednesday responded with a long-ranger from Barry Bannan that was straight at Macey.
With 70 minutes on the clock, Windass missed a great chance to double our lead when Bannan and Reece James linked up well on the left but when the latter sent in a cracking cross Windass headed wide when he should have found the target.
Bishop responded at the other end with a header cleared almost on the line by Lee Gregory and then Windass headed over the bar from another James cross.
The game took another twist on 77 minutes when Iorfa received his red card but Darren Moore reshuffled and Wednesday, with Aden Flint once again outstanding in the heart of the defence, held out for an 11th win in our last 12 league games, a fifth successive victory and stretched the unbeaten league run to 22 matches.
Dawson, Palmer, Iorfa, Flint, Famewo, Brown (James 46), Vaulks, Byers (Dele-Bashiru 33), Bannan, Windass (Hunt 81), Smith (Gregory 72). Unused subs: Stockdale, Adeniran, Bakinson. Attendance 18,910 (1,594 Wednesdayites).