Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion: Lee and Wallace put Wednesday on Wembley way

Brighton injuries aplenty and two crucial goals helped Sheffield Wednesday take a commanding first-leg lead.

Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion: Lee and Wallace put Wednesday on Wembley way
Image: Sheffield Wednesday
Sheffield Wednesday
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Brighton & Hove Albion
Sheffield Wednesday: (4-4-2) Westwood, Hunt; Lees, Loovens, Pudil; Wallace (Matias 68'), Lee, Lopez (Nuhiu 63'), Bannan; Forestieri, Hooper (Lucas João 83').
Brighton & Hove Albion: (4-4-2) Stockdale; Bruno, Goldson (Rosenior 40'), Greer, Bong; Knockaert, Sidwell (Towell 50'), Kayal, Skalak; Baldock, Hemed (Wilson 39').
SCORE: 1-0, Wallace 45'. 2-0, Lee 73'.
REFEREE: Andre Marriner. Booked: Wallace (29'), Bruno (51'), Pudil (68'), Matias (90+2'), Kayal (90+3').

Sheffield Wednesday hold a 2-0 lead over Brighton & Hove Albion heading into their Championship play-off semi-final second leg after a superb showing at home.

Goals in either side of half-time from Ross Wallace and Kieren Lee saw the Owls take full advantage of Brighton's horrendous injury luck.

Wednesday made a staggering 11 changes to their team that started against Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend, as their entire starting eleven rotated.

On the other hand, Brighton opted for three alterations from their draw against MiddlesbroughLiam RoseniorDale Stephens and Jamie Murphy were replaced by Gaëtan BongSteve Sidwell and Jiri Skalak.

Hemed and Wallace go close early on

The game was open from the very start and there was almost an early opening for Forestieri when Wednesday darted down the right. The Italian dithered over his finish and the chance was quickly snuffed out by Gordon Greer. Brighton were not without their moments either and Skalak's devlish corner towards the near post almost provided the first goal of the game. Tomer Hemed might the pacey delivery, only to see it come back off the foot of the far post.corner.

David Stockdale was the first 'keeper forced into action, and he was at his very best to deny a stinging Ross Wallace drive. Some steady build-up saw the ball set on the edge of the area for the Scot, whose bottom-corner bound effort was tipped round the post by the Brighton stopper.

Brighton break the deadlock, but feel they should have had another

The hosts then felt massively aggrieved when Forestieri had a goal disallowed for offside - with the decision only coming after deliberation between Andre Marriner and Darren Cann - though it did appear to be the correct decision. Kieran Westwood's long ball ran the whole way through to the Italian, though Gary Hooper crucially did not touch the ball; a touch that would have seen him played onside.

Brighton and Chris Houghton were dealt a huge blow in the run up to half-time, as injuries forced them into two early substitutions. Hemed and Connor Goldson both had to come off with niggling problems with James Wilson and Rosenior, respectively, taking their places.

Wether or not that played a role in the goal remained to be seen, but Wednesday were rewarded for their persistence and took a lead right at the very end of the period. Wallace picked the ball up in space on the right before gradually working his way inside. He then rifled an effort towards the far bottom corner, much like his earlier effort, but this time some swerve and a skidding ball beat Stockdale to give the Owls a late first-half lead.

Wallace slams home. | Image: Sheffield Wednesday
Wallace slams home. | Image: Sheffield Wednesday

Injury woes continue for Brighton

It was more of the same after the break from the hosts, who seemed set to pepper Stockdale's goal from range. Daniel Pudil was next to let fly and his daisy-cutter flew inches wide after Kieran Lee's lay-off. Disaster struck for Brighton as they had to use their final change just after the break. Richie Towell was called off the bench to replace the limping Steve Sidwell. The game fell into a partial lull afterwards, as the two teams tried to figure the best way forward.

Unbelievably, a fourth injury struck down Anthony Knockaert just before the hour mark and he had to be stretchered off with serious looking ankle problems. Friday the 13th was proving to be a truly unlucky day for Tony Bloom's club, as the chairman could only muster a shake of the head in disbelief. Their only form of relief came from set-pieces, but even then Skalak couldn't force Westwood into a save from 20 yards.

Lee makes the most of Brighton's pain

The game was edging into the final 20 minutes when Wednesday struck again to put the game to bed. Some steady but sustained pressure would eventually pay dividends as the hosts managed to work the ball into Forestieri on the edge of the area. He threaded Lee through on goal and the former Manchester United midfielder make no mistake in shooting across goal to find the far corner; Hillsborough was bouncing.

That was the way it remained until full-time, with very little action of note following Lee's strike. The two teams now head to the AMEX with a the Owls in the driving seat, and Brighton severely worried with what state their squad could be in after a night of injuries. Nevertheless, this is the play-offs and anything can happen.