Rhodes ends bar­ren run as Owls seal safety at Hull’s ex­pense

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL - DAVE CRAVEN AT KCOM STA­DIUM ■ Email: dave.craven@jpress.co.uk ■ Twit­ter: @DCravenYPS­port

HULL CITY 0

SH­EFFIELD WED­NES­DAY 1

CHAM­PI­ONSHIP

AS Jos Luhukay’s first sign­ing when the man­ager took over at Sh­effield Wed­nes­day in Jan­uary, Joey Pelu­pessy al­ways knew the pres­sure would be on.

Not only did the Dutch mid­fielder have to adapt quickly to life in the Cham­pi­onship – he ar­rived from the less phys­i­cal Ere­di­visie – but the Owls, of course, were 16th in the ta­ble and in real dan­ger of rel­e­ga­tion.

Granted, three months later, they are still 16th. Cru­cially, how­ever, af­ter Satur­day’s hard­fought derby win at Hull City that threat of demotion has now been re­moved.

“It was an im­por­tant win and with eight min­utes in­jury­time, too, so it was a long run,” ad­mit­ted Pelu­pessy, whose in­dus­try was vi­tal as the vis­i­tors bat­tled con­tin­u­ally for a first clean sheet in a dozen games.

“But we won and that’s the most im­por­tant thing. We have 50 points now and we are safe.

“He (Luhukay) has had a good im­pact. When he came here it was not an easy sit­u­a­tion.

“They were low in the ta­ble – this club has to be higher – and had lost a lot of games. They needed points as the rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle had started a lit­tle bit.

“It’s pos­i­tive we are safe now with three games to go and that’s a good thing for the man­ager.

“Hope­fully we can get some good re­sults in the last three.

“We didn’t play bad in the first half and the sec­ond half was just a bat­tle – just a fight re­ally – but be­fore QPR and Ful­ham we won three games in a row.

“You saw then the way we were play­ing and I think it is go­ing to be bet­ter now.”

Sober­ing de­feats against QPR and Ful­ham threat­ened to undo all the Owls’ re­cent hard work, but Jor­dan Rhodes’s 18th-minute header was enough to re­turn them to win­ning ways.

It was the former Hud­der­s­field Town striker’s first goal since Box­ing Day and much-needed, not just for Wed­nes­day but on a per­sonal level, too. Rhodes, 28, has strug­gled for form since his £10m sum­mer move from Mid­dles­brough, of­ten com­pletely over­looked by Luhukay.

But he earned a rare start here and quickly re­paid the man­ager.

“I didn’t know that,” said Pelu­pessy about it be­ing the Scot­land striker’s first goal of 2018.

“You see in training his fin­ishes are great ev­ery time. I’m very happy that he’s made a great header. It was a good cross from Jack Hunt and it was a real striker’s goal.”

Full-back Hunt had to de­part in­jured in the sec­ond pe­riod af­ter sus­tain­ing in­jury to a del­i­cate area.

But Owls man­aged to re­or­gan­ise and still deal with Hull as they pushed for that elu­sive equaliser.

Abel Her­nan­dez, Hull’s most likely hope of a goal, thought he had found it in the ‘92nd’ minute af­ter turn­ing in Harry Wil­son’s low cross from the left.

How­ever, as all the home side cel­e­brated, the lines­man called over ref­eree Scott Dun­can to alert him to the fact Hull sub­sti­tute Jar­rod Bowen ac­tu­ally slid in with the last touch – and he was offside.

Pelu­pessy, 24, in­sisted: “I thought it was offside as I saw the lines­man not put his flag up, but talk­ing in the mi­cro­phone. I knew some­thing had hap­pened.

“I wasn’t sure what, but our defenders were run­ning to the side­lines so I was think­ing maybe it was offside. And it was.”

Even then Hull still nearly res­cued a point when An­gus MacDon­ald’s free header sailed just wide.

Nigel Ad­kins’s side knew a third suc­ces­sive win for the first time in more than two years would have been enough to pre­serve their own Cham­pi­onship sta­tus.

How­ever, they have slipped to 18th and, math­e­mat­i­cally at least, are not yet safe.

Hav­ing scored nine goals in their pre­vi­ous two out­ings they cre­ated nu­mer­ous chances in a free-flow­ing first half, but could not cap­i­talise.

Former Ar­se­nal mid­fielder Jon To­ral con­ceded: “Some­times it was the fi­nal ball, some­times the fin­ish­ing and some­times it just didn’t fall for us.

“We showed char­ac­ter, we pressed un­til the last minute, but it wasn’t meant to be. Now we have to go make sure at Bris­tol City on Satur­day.”

PIC­TURE: STEVE EL­LIS

BACK ON TAR­GET: Sh­effield Wed­nes­day striker Jor­dan Rhodes is con­grat­u­lated af­ter scor­ing his first goal of 2018.

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