Sheffield Wednesday 4-1 Portsmouth: Owls finish in the play-offs
Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Sheffield Wednesday confirmed their place in the League One play-offs with a 4-1 victory over Portsmouth at Hillsborough Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

George Hirst gave Pompey the lead, but goals from Lee Gregory, Saido Berahino, and Jordan Storey gave Wednesday the lead going into the break.

The second half was not as frantic as the first, but Wednesday controlled play before sealing the victory with a late header from George Byers.

The Owls will face Sunderland in the play-off semi-finals.

Story of the match

Portsmouth’s intentions of being the party-poopers at a packed-out Hillsborough came into fruition on four minutes, as boyhood Owl Hirst slotted home unmarked from Ronan Curtis’ cut-back from the left.

Wednesday soon shook off their slow start and began to formulate some attacks that were still below par. Marvin Johnson had a couple of crosses that failed to beat the first man, with the Owls just needing something to click.

However, Johnson’s next pass was inch-perfect, as the wing-back drilled a ball from the left towards the six-yard area where Gregory poked an effort past Gavin Bazunu to equalise on 17 minutes - his 16th league goal of the season.

Bazunu then made two excellent saves to stop the Owls from taking the lead.

On 25 minutes, Wednesday were awarded a free-kick which was quickly lifted over the top of the defence and into the path of Gregory, who had made a clever run. Gregory allowed the ball to bounce before hitting a fierce left-footed half-volley that was tipped over the bar by the ‘keeper.

Then on the half-hour mark, Bannan tried a snapshot from range that was palmed over the crossbar by Bazunu.

The Owls’ pressure became too much as the hosts scored two goals in four minutes to lead.

First, a corner from Bannan caused a scramble in the area, with it eventually settling for Berahino, who squeezed a shot through a crowd of bodies and into the far corner.

Moments later, good work from Byers on the byline saw him jink past the defender and play the ball into the middle where Storey provided a neat tap in past Bazunu to send Wednesday into the ascendancy going into the break.

The second period had a sombre feel to it as Wednesday looked to just seal the three points and stay fresh for the play-offs.

The first opportunity of the second period fell to Byers, who connected well with Johnson’s cutback, but was denied by the legs of Bazunu.

On 65 minutes, Pompey almost pulled a goal back out of nothing. A cross from the right-hand side found its way to the left where Curtis pulled the ball back to Aiden O’Brien, who curled an effort onto the outside of the post.

Moments later, Gregory almost bagged a second of the afternoon. Sam Hutchinson floated a ball from deep that was misjudged by Sean Raggett and sublimely brought down by Gregory before the forward lobbed a shot just over the bar.

Bailey Peacock-Farrell produced two excellent saves in the final quarter of the game.

First, he got across to tip Louis Thompson’s header onto the bar before he denied Hirst at his near post after the forward was slipped through on goal.  

The Owls confirmed their victory with four minutes remaining. Josh Windass swung a corner into the area where Byers flicked the ball into the far corner at the front post.

Takeaways from the game

Wednesday confirm play-offs

The Owls may have started poorly, but they now take some momentum into the play-off semi-finals.

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They will travel to Sunderland on Friday 6 May before facing the Black Cats at Hillsborough on the following Monday night.

Wednesday were beaten heavily by Sunderland back in January, but the Owls came away with a 3-0 victory in the reverse fixture.

Man of the Match – George Byers

This accolade could have gone to any of Gregory, Bannan or Byers, but we have gone with the latter.

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Byers was exceptional in central midfield and his relentless pressing saw him restrict Pompey’s play in the middle.

The 25-year-old made four tackles and five interceptions. 

Teams

Sheffield Wednesday: Peacock-Farrell, Palmer, Hutchinson, Gregory (Dele-Bashiru), Bannan (C) (Paterson), Byers, Johnson, Luongo, Berahino (Windass), Hunt, Storey

Unused Subs: Wildsmith, Gibson, Dunkley, Mendez-Laing

Portsmouth FC: Bazunu, Robertson (C), Harness, Curtis, Ogilvie, Carter, Hirst, Raggett, Morrell, Thompson (Mingi), Jacobs (O'Brien)

Unused Subs: Webber, Williams, Walker, Romeo, Vincent, Mingi

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