Sheffield Wednesday earned a lifeline in their battle against relegation from the Championship, as Josh Windass scored the only goal to defeat Blackburn Rovers and keep their survival hopes alive.
Windass struck with a deflected effort towards the end of the first half and Wednesday, who continue to be without manager Darren Moore due to illness, held on to be worthy winners with numerous chances to make the result more comfortable.
Derby County’s defeat at Preston North End elsewhere means that the Owls are now four points from safety with three matches left to play, while Blackburn are not yet mathematically safe themselves as their dire second half of the season continued.
Story of the match
It could have been the night when Sheffield Wednesday’s relegation to League One was confirmed, but they showed all the endeavour needed to prevent that outcome. They were the brighter side earlier on, though Thomas Kaminski was only truly tested by an offside Windass as the final-third threat took a little longer to transpire.
In the meantime Blackburn, with the division’s worst record since the beginning of February, had their best spell of the match, though it was still nothing special in an unimaginative display. Their front three failed to fire, combining best with an incisive move finished poorly by Sam Gallagher’s scuffed shot, while Joe Rothwell failed to trouble Keiren Westwood with a diving header from Barry Douglas’ cross.
Just moments after that latter chance came the breakthrough. In Wednesday’s predicament, it doesn’t matter how you score, and Windass was not complaining as a deflection helped his arrowed strike, following good play from Kadeem Harris, catch out Kaminski and hit the back of the net.
Having inexcusably let a 1-0 lead slip against Bristol City three days earlier, they seemed aware another goal would be needed and stepped up their game after going ahead, with numerous chances coming and going before the first half was over.
Defenders Tom Lees and Julian Borner were both off target from set pieces before a defensive gift wasn’t taken advantage of, Kaminski beating away Adam Reach’s drive and Darragh Lenihan blocking the Windass follow-up.
The interval didn’t blunt their ambition and they continued to attack with purpose, Liam Palmer flashing wide and Borner missing another header. They couldn’t keep up that pace though and when Windass skied a chance horrendously into the stand, it was inevitable they would have to hold onto the points the hard way.
But only after making a quadruple substitution, and seeing Kaminski keep out Palmer, did Blackburn finally offer any kind of threat at all. If a goal was going to come for them it would have been on the counter, and they should have converted one break when Ben Brereton drove forward and Adam Armstrong found John Buckley, only for his effort to be fired straight at the chest of Westwood.
There was another chance for Borner, but he couldn’t beat the goalkeeper when a corner fell to his feet in the middle of the box. Brereton flashed across goal and Taylor Harwood-Bellis headed tamely wide, but Blackburn simply didn’t throw enough at Wednesday to dislodge the well-earned points from the hosts.
Man of the match - Barry Bannan (Sheffield Wednesday)
An all-action display from the Wednesday skipper in their hour of need, dictating a strong team performance from the middle and covering the pitch effectively as well.