Match report: Bournemouth 2 Sheffield Wednesday 4

Leon Best celebrates after scoring Wednesday's third goal.
Leon Best celebrates after scoring Wednesday's third goal.
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Wednesday made mathematically sure of their Championship safety in sensational style with a brillliant 4-2 victory against promotion hopefuls Bournemouth.

It looked as if the Owls were heading for a fourth game without a win after they twice lost the lead then saw Sam Hutchinson sent off in the 63rd minute for two bookings when the score was 2-2.

But Leon Best, who scored in a 3-1 win for Blackburn at Dean Court in September, went on as a sub to score a vital goal in the 86th minute and make the fourth for Chris Maguire deep into stoppage time.

With 10 men, the Owls counter-attacked to telling effect and in the first half they unsettled the Cherries with pacey attacking footballing and grabbed goals through Atdhe Nuhiu and Hutchinson.

Saves from Chris Kirkland also played an important part in an absorbing contest as Wednesday avenged their 2-1 home defeat by the Cherries.

Both teams made one change after drawing their previous game.

For Wednesday, Jeremy Helan took over from Liam Palmer; for Bournemouth, Marc Pugh replaced fellow winger Ryan Fraser.

A resplendent pitch was watered by sprinklers before the game - an indication perhaps that the home team like to zip the ball around.

Sure enough a slick one-two threatened to put Pugh through - until a great tackle by Llera intervened.

It pleased the sell-out 1,300 away following, many of whom had to shield their eyes from the sun.

But Wednesday, playing 4-4-1-1 with Chris Maguire supporting Nuhiu, showed pace on the break and made a sixth-minute chance for Kieran Lee, who fired just wide from the edge of the box.

Kirkland had to go full stretch and make a fingertip save six minutes later to deny Lewis Grabban his 21st goal of the season after the ex-Rotherham star stole half a yard on Llera.

The home crowd had been in expectant mood with their team challenging for the play-offs but they were stunned in the 16th minute. Centre half Steve Cook gave the ball away and Nuhiu accepted the gift, lashing a left-foot shot into Lee Camp’s bottom right-hand corner from 22 yards.

Michail Antonio mis-kicked when well placed, then Maguire cleverly beat a marker to hammer an angle drive that was cleared off the line spectacularly by Pugh.

Maguire threatened in a run through the middle, Hutchinson, who along with Lee was prominent in midfield, had a shot blocked after good work from Nuhiu, and the Owls were on top, playing some quick and fluent football.

So it was against the run of play when the equaliser came, in the 31st minute.

Grabban sprinted to the byline on the right and crossed for Pugh to plant a free header under the bar.

Back came the Owls with Lewis Buxton testing Lee Camp from a narrow angle - while the well-placed Maguire was yelling for a pass .

However, the lead was deservedly. restored in the 34th minute.

A long throw by Antonio from the right was flicked on and Hutchinson put away a close-range header, for his first goal for the Owls and only the second of his career.

Kirkland blocked well from danger man Grabban and won a one-on-one against midfielder Andrew Surman - and it was an entertaining tussle, with defences not having the easiest of times.

Buxton suffered a knee ligament injury when sliding into a tackle and made way for Palmer seven minutes into the second half.

After an even start to the half, Bournemouth equalised. Left back Ian Harte whipped in a left-side corner and Yann Kermorgant powered a free header into the roof of the net.

Suddenly Wednesday were rocking.

In the space of two minutes Ritchie clipped a chance across goal and Grabban miscued in front of goal.

Another blow followed swiftly.

Hutchinson, who was booked for a foul on Kermorgant in the last minute of the first half, stretched into another challenge on the striker when he was trying to break through the middle, and out came the second yellow card.

Stuart Gray reorganised by taking off Helan and sending on Giles Coke to fill Hutchinson’s midfield spot; leaving Nuhiu on his own up front. and switching Antonio and Maguire to the left and right flanks.

Grabban was a whisker away from making it 3-2 - and it looked as if Kirkland got a touch to the shot as it went past the post.

A free kick by Kermorgant pinballed between Kirkland and the post beforre Llera hacked the ball clear, in the 73rd minute.

Wednesday were mostly having to hang on.

But a run by Palmer launched a four-against-three counter-attack and Best ended it with a poor cross.

Again the Owls survived pressure to break away, this time successfully.

A Maguire flick sent Antonio through the middle; his shot came back off the bar when he should have scored.

It bounced out to Best, who from the right side of the area surprised Camp by placing a left-foot shot inside his near post.

The announcement of seven minutes of stoppage time gave the Cherries hope.

But yet again Wednesday caught them out.

Maguire played Best into space on the right; the striker ran on and guided a return ball into the box where Maguire dinked the ball past camp in the sixth of those added minutes.

Gray said: “I’m just so proud of my payers, and it was a fantastic following we had.

“It’s a long journey but we gave them something to celebrate on the way home.

“Atdhe had good ball retention and scored a great goal. You want your subs to have an impact on the game and I thought Leon did ever so well.

“He got his goal and then he picked out Chris Maguire with a fantastic square pass.

“Chris will probably be disappointed with his performance but he keeps going and it was a great finish by him.

“I thought we created the better, clear-cut chances.

“I think we deserved to go into the lead, against a side who more often than not win their home games.”