REPORT: Millwall 1-3 Owls
The Owls returned to winning ways with a welcome and convincing triumph at Millwall on Tuesday night.
An entertaining clash at The Den spawned openings at both ends and the most telling were all converted by Wednesday in the second half through Lewis McGugan, Atdhe Nuhiu and substitute Stevie May.
The Lions grabbed a late goal via Diego Fabbrini which proved a mere consolation as the points deservedly came back to Sheffield.
McGugan’s second goal in successive games was Wednesday’s platform for victory but left the Lions deeper in danger at the foot of the division, a situation compounded by a super strike from Nuhiu and late hit by May.
But the Lions had showed no lack of confidence in the early exchanges, with Lee Gregory flashing wide and Diego Fabbrini stopped illegally on a mazy run by Tom Lees.
The resulting free kick was sent over the crossbar by Gregory but the hosts certainly put down a marker, completely unaware of what would follow.
And 18 minutes in, Millwall twice came close to opening the scoring with the chances seconds apart.
First, Gregory bore down on goal from the angle but Chris Kirkland – in for the suspended Keiren Westwood - was off his line to block the danger.
The loose ball then fell to former Owls loanee Gary Taylor-Fletcher who stabbed goalwards from six yards only to see Liam Palmer hook clear off the line.
Taylor-Fletcher had two more opportunities in as many minutes midway through the first half, flicking wide with a clever back heel and dragging narrowly past the post with an instinctive effort.
It was an enterprising first 45 for the Londoners but for all their efforts, they could have gone down the tunnel a goal down.
A looping ball into the box seven minutes before the break found its way to Will Keane but the Manchester United man’s shot fizzed over the bar before Claude Dielna forced a fine diving save from David Forde right on the whistle.
Undeterred, Millwall started the second period well and only heroic defending from Lees denied substitute Aiden O’Brien a strike with his first touch.
But on 53 minutes, they were dealt a big blow on the counter.
A sharp burst upfield from Wednesday saw a fine interchange of passes that ended with McGugan stroking calmly across Forde and into the net.
The visitors’ tails were up and Jacques Maghoma almost doubled the advantage, bringing an athletic save out of Forde with 20 minutes to go.
And two minutes later, the Owls did go 2-0 up with the move of the game.
Nuhiu played a delightful give and go with Maghoma and went on to place a perfect side-footer beyond the despairing Forde.
Wednesday went in hunt of a third, which duly arrived on 83 minutes when May - fresh from the bench - prodded beneath Forde in front of the delighted travelling hordes.
Still there was time for another goal but a consolation for Millwall as Fabbrini blasted home from close range in stoppage time but it was much too little much too late for the beleaguered Londoners.
Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Hooiveld, Williams, Fabbrini, Gregory (Fuller 63), Woolford (O’Brien 50), Harding, Abdou (Gueye 72), Tonge, Taylor-Fletcher
Owls: Kirkland, Palmer, Lees, Zayatte, Dielna, Lee, McGugan (Hutchinson 72), Semedo, Maghoma (Helan 90), Keane (May 80), Nuhiu