Two second-half goals saw Wednesday move to within four points of the play-offs after a home win over Morecambe this evening.
We made hard work of beating the struggling visitors and had to survive a typical Wednesday wobble deep into the second half before Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s added-time strike finally settled the nerves and the game.
Darren Moore missed the match as he has tested positive for Covid and on the pitch we suffered three injury blows with Harlee Dean, Fisayo Dele-Bashiru and Josh Windass all limping off during the 90 minutes.
Wednesday dominated possession and had 19 attempts on goal but, at the same time, we lacked fluency and confidence and only five of those efforts were on target.
The first injury problem came after just eight minutes, Dean pulling up with what looked like a damaged hamstring and being replaced by Liam Palmer. And there was another hold-up shortly afterwards when Morecambe keeper Trevor Carson received lengthy treatment after blocking a fierce angled effort from Josh Windass.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing shot well over when well-placed but we then almost gifted Morecambe a goal. Jordan Storey and Bailey Peacock-Farrell dithered over a through ball and Cole Stockton netted from a tight angle, an offside flag sparing the Wednesday pair’s blushes.
Keeper Carson had to leave the field soon afterwards, suffering concussion from his earlier injury, and Wednesday’s near constant pressure almost brought a goal eight minutes before the break when Mendez-Laing played a one-two with Florian Kamberi but his close-range effort was blocked by Ryan Cooney.
Marvin Johnson thought he had broken the deadlock five minutes from half time, sidefooting high into the net from Barry Bannan’s pass but was ruled offside and then came the second injury, Dele-Bashiru forced off after a 50-50 challenge and being replaced by Callum Paterson.
We had the ball in the net again soon after the interval, Kamberi heading home but the goal was again disallowed for offside.
However, with 55 minutes gone Wednesday’s continued dominance finally paid off when Bannan played the ball across the edge of the penalty area into the path of George Byers and he sent an unstoppable 20-yarder flying high into the top corner of the Kop end net.
With 17 minutes remaining, Wednesday suffered another setback when Windass was injured in a challenge in the box, Saido Berahino replacing him.
And, despite having so much possession up to that time, we then had an uncomfortable 10-minute spell soon afterwards as Morecambe suddenly came into the game.
Sam Hutchinson twice headed off the line within seconds when we failed to clear a corner, then Peacock-Farrell took too long over a simple clearance and the ball rebounded off the onrushing Adam Phillips before rolling just wide of an upright.
However, Mendez-Laing ended the concerns in stoppage time, his shot from just inside the box taking a big deflection off defender Jacob Bedeau before nestling in the far corner of the net.
It should have all been so much easier on the night and, while it was another three points for Wednesday, we know we will have to play a lot better against stronger opposition if we want to be in the shake-up for a place in the Championship next season.
Peacock-Farrell, Storey, Dean (Palmer 8), Hutchinson, Mendez-Laing, Dele-Bashiru (Paterson 46), Byers, Bannan, Johnson, Windass (Berahino 73), Kamberi (Sow 66). Unused subs: Wildsmith, Hunt, Brennan. Att: 19,261.