back in play-offs after win Owls are

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Dave Good­er­ham

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.”

PICTURES: ProS­ports/Nigel Cole

ROAD BLOCK: Jack Hunt holds off Emyr Huws. In­set, Car­los Carvalhal

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