LEE’S LATE SHOW SEALS THE DEAL
back in play-offs after win Owls are
CARLOS CARVALHAL perversely described Sheffield Wednesday’s play-off heartbreak last season as “one of his happiest moments” after Kieran Lee’s winner confirmed a successive top-six finish.
Midfielder Lee capped a rare fine move in a forgettable match at Portman Road as Wednesday’s 1-0 win made it six straight wins and booked their play-off spot in style.
But as Owls supporters start dreaming of going one better following last season’s final defeat to Hull City, manager Carvalhal admitted he saw last year as a positive rather than simply spurring him on to go one better.
He said: “The play-off defeat was actually one of the happiest moments in my career after where this club has been over the last 20 years.
“We achieved so much as underdogs – to get to the final was unbelievable.
“I don’t remember the disappointment of the final, just the huge credit to my players for getting there.”
While yesterday’s 90 minutes will not live long in the memory, six consecutive wins is fine form to take into the play-offs and Wednesday were good money for the three points in this encounter.
A forgettable final match of this season at Portman Road saw both sides muster halfchances – Adam Reach for Wednesday and Ipswich’s Tom Lawrence the guilty parties in the first 45 minutes of a tightlyfought encounter.
Ross Wallace almost opened the scoring in fortuitous circumstances in the 49th minute when his speculative longrange shot slipped out of Bartosz Bialkowski’s hands but came back off the inside of the post.
But while Ipswich struggled in the final third, the deadlock was eventually broken by Wednesday when Barry Bannan and Daniel Pudil combined to set up Lee, who showed good composure to finish from close range.
Carvalhal added: “Six wins in a row is fantastic – that is something very special.
“We deserved to win. It gives me satisfaction to see people around me happy, the chairman, the players and the fans.
“We have more points than we had last season and we are dealing with the expectations of our fans.
“This is a massive club but we can only look at ourselves.
“I will not think about who we might have in the semi-final or whether we might start home or away when the playoffs begin.”
The defeat, and performance, was in keeping with much of Ipswich’s below-par season with some fans once again directing their anger at manager Mick McCarthy.
And after taking part in a ‘lap of applause’ in front of the minority of supporters who remained after the final whistle, McCarthy said: “It was always going to be like that if we lost. We haven’t been good enough at home and we have not entertained our fans enough so I do understand where they are coming from.
“It is a shame we didn’t go out on a high but I think they edged it and just had that little bit more quality than us in the end.
“We wanted the result and to play for pride but Wednesday still had something to play for.
“They are wired for the play-offs and they came here with real momentum and form and it showed.”
ROAD BLOCK: Jack Hunt holds off Emyr Huws. Inset, Carlos Carvalhal