Sheffield Wednesday slumped to a 3rd successive defeat on Wednesday evening as Huddersfield put an end to the Owls 100% home record, winning 3-1.
The match will be remembered as much for the performance of referee Graham Salisbury as anything else as he appeared to lose control of the game after dismissing Huddersfield’s Joel Lynch after 38 minutes.
The start of the game gave little indication of what was to come with very little signs to show that this was a local derby. Despite the lack of tempo or aggression in the early stages the Owls started well, forcing a series of corners with Beevers glancing a header against the bar from one of them.
The visitors replied by hitting the bar through Vaughan but their disappointment was short-lived as Jermaine Johnson brought down Jack Hunt inside the penalty area. Kirkland was able to save Norwood’s penalty but could only parry the ball back into the path of the midfielder who tapped it home.
With Wednesday still reeling from falling behind against the run of play Huddersfield then doubled their advantage inside the 20 minute mark with Lee Novak capitalising on poor marking to head home from close range.
The Owls responded with Reda Johnson missing a good headed opportunity and Antonio stinging the palms of Smithies in the away goal. The 2 Owls players then combined to reduce the arrears 10 minutes before half-time, Johnson heading in from Antonio’s long throw.
Antonio was then hacked down by Lynch as he raced onto a ball down the line and the Huddersfield man received his marching orders.
Astonishingly there was still time in the first half for 5 more bookings including inexplicably 2 for Owls full-back Joe Mattock. The defender had looked out of sorts for most of the half at right back and to pick up two bookings in the space of a matter of minutes and wipe out Wednesday’s numerical player advantage on the stroke of the half-time was inexcusable.
Dave Jones replaced the ineffectual Gary Madine with Nejc Pecnik at the break and perhaps understandably both sides started the 2nd half in a more cautious manner. Huddersfield looked comfortable in possession with the extra space afforded by the loss of a man for both sides but Wednesday looked capable of finding a goal with Pecnik causing problems and going close twice.
The officials again took centre stage with 20 minutes remaining. Hunt attempted a cross from inside the area which struck Owls sub Rhys McCabe on the arm from close quarters. The referee initially waved away the visitors appeals for another penalty but after consulting the linesman who was frantically waving his flag he changed his mind. It seemed a strange decision to overrule himself given that he was closer to the incident than the linesman but despite the home sides complaints the Terriers effectively sealed the points as Clayton scored from the spot.
Wednesday continued to press in the closing stages with late substitute Chris O’Grady causing problems and Reda Johnson missed a golden chance from close range when it seemed easier to score after Antonio did brilliantly to control and cross on the run.
Defeat leaves Wednesday too close for comfort to the bottom teams ahead of Saturday’s Hillsborough clash with Bolton while the win takes Huddersfield into the top six.