The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By An­drew Brook

AF­TER three wins in a week, Sheffield Wed­nes­day are mo­tor­ing up the Cham­pi­onship, but man­ager Car­los Car­val­hal ad­mit­ted for­tune favoured his side at Brent­ford.

Lu­cas João snatched a last-minute vic­tory for the Owls, af­ter Brent­ford had fought back to level with ten men.

Car­val­hal said:“It was our day. It was a lucky day. This is football. In the lottery we won 2-1. If we drew 1-1, we would say ‘OK’ be­cause we had a good first half and they had a good sec­ond half.

“We started very well.We made some chances be­fore the first goal and if we scored them then the story of the game would be dif­fer­ent.

“In the sec­ond half we made some mis­takes. We lost some energy. We caused prob­lems for Brent­ford’s de­fence, but we started los­ing easy balls.We were too com­fort­able be­cause we were 1-0 up.”

Car­val­hal’s side lined-up with old-fash­ioned at­tributes – a big­man, lit­tle-man front two and two wingers whip­ping in crosses.

With the bat­ter­ing ram of At­dhe Nuhiu, Marco Ma­tias’ trick­ery and Ross Wal­lace and Barry Bannan’s pass­ing, Wed­nes­day’s at­tack­ers are a dis­parate bunch, but they com­bined early on with the har­mony of a high-qual­ity or­ches­tra.

Sev­eral firsthalf chances orig­i­nated with the Scot­tish wide­men, Wal­lace de­liv­er­ing three balls onto Nuhiu’s head, in­clud­ing one that the Aus­trian flicked onto the cross­bar.

The goal even­tu­ally came in the first-half’s lat­ter min­utes, when Bannan fizzed a pass into Nuhiu’s path and the front­man was scruffily bun­dled over by James Tarkowski.

That the penalty was cor­rectly awarded was lit­tle dis­puted, but Tarkowski’s sendin­goff seemed ex­ces­sive. Nuhiu’s fin­ish com­pounded the pun­ish­ment.

Nev­er­the­less Mar­i­nus Di­jkhuizen’s bold 3-3-3 re­or­gan­i­sa­tion en­abled Brent­ford to gain equal­ity in cen­tral ar­eas, stran­gling Wal­lace and Bannan’s sup­ply, although the Bees ini­tially showed lit­tle at­tack­ing men­ace.

Just as the se­quel to Grease was with­out John Tra­volta or Olivia New­ton-John, Brent­ford are ne­go­ti­at­ing their sec­ond year in the sec­ond tier with­out seven of their top eight goalscor­ers from last sea­son, or ex-man­ager Mark War­bur­ton. So far this Bees in­car­na­tion is – like Grease 2 – a poor im­i­ta­tion of its pre­de­ces­sor, with vic­to­ries only over newly-pro­moted sides.

Alan Judge, the sole at­tack­ing residue of last sea­son’s Brent­ford on the pitch, tried his best to spark the kin­dling and struck the post with a free-kick.

How­ever, whereas Nuhiu com­peted for ev­ery ball into Brent­ford’s box, Marco Djuricin was mostly ab­sent. Judge there­fore went alone and, af­ter strid­ing clear, curled a shot just in­side the far post.

Jérémy Hélan’s sec­ond yel­low card equalled the num­bers, but Wed­nes­day sealed vic­tory when João dis­pos­sessed Jack O’Con­nell and shot past David But­ton one-onone.

Di­jkhuizen said: “We wanted to try and win the game and take some risks, but it was just an un­lucky bounce at the end and the guy scored. I don’t think Jack should go to the casino tonight.

“We are con­ced­ing too many goals.That is our prob­lem.We keep go­ing one goal be­hind. It is good to get bet­ter in the game, but it is dif­fi­cult when you have a bad start.

“The sec­ond half made me proud. We were very good. The crowd got be­hind us and we scored a qual­ity goal.With the send­ing-off for them, we had a real feel­ing that we could win. Maybe we’d draw but I could never see us los­ing.” AFC WIM­BLE­DON are on standby to make a de­fen­sive move in the loan mar­ket, ac­cord­ing to Neal Ard­ley.

Will Nightin­gale’s in­jury last week­end has left the Dons stretched in the cen­tre­back area, and it could hit break­ing point if 18-year-old Ryan Sweeney is called up to the in­ter­na­tional squad by the Re­pub­lic of Ire­land.

“It would cause us a prob­lem,” ad­mit­ted Ard­ley. “It is one that I have to mon­i­tor and look at, but it is not some­thing I am go­ing to rush into.

“As soon as Will got in­jured on Satur­day we started draw­ing up our list and hav­ing a look in case we do need to go into that.”

PIC­TURE: UK Sport Pics

SPOT ON: Sheffield Wed­nes­day for­ward At­dhe Nuhiu cel­e­brates his penalty

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