THIS ONE’S FOR RON, SAYS CARLOS
RELIEVED Sheffield Wednesday boss Carlos Carvalhal dedicated this tense victory to Owls legend Ron Springett – although the defending of both sides would have given the former England goalkeeper nightmares.
Fans broke into spontaneous applause during the proposed one minute’s silence for Springett, who died last week at the age of 80.Then the floodgates opened in front of goal with winger Ross Wallace creating all three for Wednesday.
Jamie O’Hara and Tom Cairney replied for Fulham to set up a grandstand finish. And Carvalhal said: “This victory was for Ron Springett. There was a lot of emotion and the game was exciting.
“We played well for 70 minutes and for 20 minutes we tried to close all our windows and doors.
“Our travelling fans saw us play well at Burnley and Bolton, but we needed to do this for those who didn’t see that. We can and we will get better day by day.
“I left out Ross Wallace on Tuesday because some players take longer than others to recover and he could play with full energy now.”
Wednesday made hard work of the three points after dominating most of the game against a disappointing Fulham.
Entertainment was in plentiful supply, aided by some awful aerial defending.
The visitors were most at fault, barely getting a header or a foot in the way of a series of excellent Wallace crosses.
Barry Bannan highlighted weaknesses in Fulham’s defence by having a free header tipped over by Andy Lonergan in only the fourth minute.
The same midfielder then placed a left-foot shot wide from a good position before Fernando Forestieri headed Wallace’s corner low into the net for his first Owls goal in the 13th minute.
Richard Stearman was fortunate to get away with a challenge on Atdhe Nuhiu when the burly striker was almost through on goal before Fulham began to challenge.
Ryan Tunnicliffe flashed a venomous shot a foot wide before O’Hara, Fulham’s maestro, levelled matters with a bouncing shot from just outside the box.
The fact parity lasted as long as it did was thanks to Lonergan’s athleticism in clawing out Alex Lopez’s header. But from Wallace’s corner, the goalkeeper was left stranded by his erring defenders, although he could have done better with a farpost header by Tom Lees that sneaked into his net.
When Michael Turner nodded a Wallace free-kick for Wednesday’s third shortly after the break, a comprehensive win seemed probable.
But the wily O’Hara picked out Cairney for yet another close-range header in the 67th minute and home nerves became frayed, particularly during six minutes of added time.
But for an excellent Keiren Westwood save from substitute Dan Burn, the Londoners could have sneaked a fortunate point. Fulham boss Kit Symons said: “I’m frustrated and angry with our defending, but also proud of my players for the way they played in the second half.
“We normally defend the high balls better than that, although Wednesday put in some very good crosses.
“We need to tighten up defensively because we will always score goals. We can be there or thereabouts this season and I’m pleased with what we’ve got.”
Whilst Ross McCormack barely had a kick for Fulham, Forestieri’s 45-minute cameo will have heartened the Hillsborough faithful.
Still better, Carvalhal revealed he withdrew his new signing as a precaution and he should be fit to resume his partnership with Nuhiu.
TURN IT IN: Michael Turner of Sheffield Wednesday scores what proved to be the winning goal