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23:35 21st June 2012

Owls stay up

The Owls ensured Championship football will return to Hillsborough next season after defeating Middlesbrough 2-0 on Saturday.

First half goals from Steve Howard and Leroy Lita earned Wednesday the crucial points on a hectic afternoon in the Championship.

On a day where results elsewhere could have kept Wednesday in the division, Dave Jones’ men took matters into their own hands and produced a winning performance.

Given the unpredictable nature of the Championship this term and the drama that has unfolded over the past 45 games, it was probably fitting that the excitement continued to the last with so many issues needing a conclusion.

Wednesday went into the clash knowing what was necessary to maintain second tier status and were backed by over 30,000 fans, who created an electric atmosphere in S6 prior to kick off.

The Owls made a positive start in the early exchanges with Jermaine Johnson twice working an opening for a shot a goal but without testing Jason Steele.

Jeremy Helan’s dangerous ball in the middle needed a well-timed clearance by Andre Bikey to deny Lita a golden chance from close range.

If an early goal was to arrive, the pointers were that it would come for Wednesday, who had started strongly and on nine minutes came the big break through.

A cutting through ball from Miguel Llera sent Howard clear on goal and the on-loan hitman made no mistake, firing past Steele off the underside of the crossbar to give the Owls an early advantage.

After a conceding the opening goal, Boro were able to get a foothold in the game having been heavily under pressure until that point.

Winger Curtis Main was proving a useful outlet for the visitors and the tricky midfielder did well to work a sight a goal – Middlesbrough’s first – but dragged way wide of the target.

Jermaine Johnson was giving the Boro backline a headache as the Jamaican fired inches wide of Steele’s left hand post.

But Wednesday were not to be denied and promptly doubled their lead on the half hour.

An in-swinging Lewis Buxton corner was met with a glancing header from Lita and Steele was powerless to prevent the ball nestling in the back of the net.

Wednesday were relentless going forward and had a huge chance to go 3-0 ahead moments later.

Helan’s cross was not sufficiently dealt with by the visitors and the ball fell for Howard, whose shot was cleared off the line by Rhys Williams, with the Boro keeper still on the deck.

But the Owls continued with their pressure and a neat piece of skill on the left by Danny Pugh led to the defender striking into the side netting.

Straight after the restart, Wednesday were gifted a chance when a stray ball by Ben Burgess found Lita lurking in the area, but Steele reacted quickly to close down the angle and save at the striker’s feet.

Andy Halliday headed just over the bar from a Boro flag kick but otherwise the Owls were keeping the visitors at bay.

Lita almost scored his second of the game at the death, as his close range header bounced inches wide but as the game entered its final stages, there was a sense of ‘job done’ for Wednesday, who saw out the four minutes of added time to secure Championship football next term.

Owls: Kirkland, Buxton, Gardner, Llera, Pugh, J Johnson(Lee 46), Prutton, Olofinjana (Semedo 56), Helan, Howard, Lita (Maguire 85)

Unused substitutes: Bywater, R Johnson, Taylor, Madine

Middlesbrough: Steele, Smallwood (Gibson 55), Hoyte, R Williams, Leadbitter, Carayol (Morris 67), Bikey, Main, Burgess, McDonald, Halliday (Reach 67)

Unused substitutes: Leutwiler, Ledesma, Haroun, L Williams


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.