REPORT: Brighton 0-1 Owls
Wednesday made the perfect start to their 2014/15 Championship campaign, upsetting the odds with a 1-0 win at The Amex.
Giles Coke’s stunning first half strike separated the two sides on the opening day of the season in a game that saw Brighton reduced to ten men shortly after the break.
Andrew Crofts was issued with his marching orders moments after the interval for a high challenge on Sam Hutchinson.
The dismissal made life more difficult for Brighton, who had come up against a resolute and organised Owls side, and struggled to find a way back into the game as Stuart Gray’s men posted a win on day one.
Brighton were first to threaten through the lively Kazenga LuaLua who darted into the area and forced a fine near post save by Keiren Westwood – who was given the nod to start at The Amex.
Wednesday – in their changed strip of all yellow - made a solid start to the opening fixture of the campaign and limited Brighton’s chances.
Jacques Maghoma then fired a warning shot over the top and although clear cut opportunities had been at a premium for Wednesday, it was a moment of brilliance from Coke that broke the deadlock.
After industrious wing play from Maghoma, the ex-Burton man teed up Coke, who hit a delicious curling strike into to the top corner, past the despairing dive of David Stockdale.
Giles Coke goal v Brighton
In a bid to hit back instantly, Brighton promptly went on the attack and LuaLua almost sent the sides into the break level, but dragged his low bobbling effort agonisingly wide of Westwood’s far post.
The second period began with a bang and produced one of the major talking points of the game.
Crofts’ high challenge on Sam Hutchinson resulted in a red card for the Brighton man, giving Sami Hyypia’s men a mountain to climb.
Wednesday were buoyed by the numerical advantage and set about inflicting further pain on the hosts, as Maghoma raced clear on the left but his pull back evaded both Atdhe Nuhiu and Kieran Lee, who were lurking in the middle.
But the Owls were almost made to pay when Brighton worked their best chance of the game just past the hour mark.
Chris O’Grady collected the ball from Inigo Calderon’s feed and the ex-Owl took aim from 12 yards but was thwarted by a stunning stop from Westwood, who pushed wide with an outstretched arm.
As the game edged towards its conclusion, Brighton were desperately in need of a spark but the emphasis remained with Wednesday, as the visitors continued to press and frustrate the south coast side.
Having had to wait 17 games for the first win of the campaign in 2013/14, it was a different story for Wednesday in 2014/15 as the 2,700 Owls fans inside the Amex were able to celebrate a deserved opening day victory.
Brighton: Stockdale, Saltor, Greer, Hughes, Crofts, O’Grady, Calderon (Mackail-Smith 77), Forster-Caskey (Agustien 61), Fenelon (Buckley 61), Ince, LuaLua
Owls: Westwood, Mattock, Lees, Loovens, Palmer, Maguire, Hutchinson, Lee, Coke, Maghoma (Semedo 81), Nuhiu (Madine 86)