Caretaker Sheffield Wednesday boss Stuart Gray watched his second-from-bottom team humble league leaders Leicester City tonight.
His side came from a goal down to take charge at Hillsborough, thanks largely to Connor Wickham’s brace, a morale-boosting game watched by 20,000 enthralled fans.
Gray had handed a start to new signing Glenn Loovens .
Dutch centre-back Loovens, a free agent having left Real Zaragoza in the summer, has signed a short-term deal.
The 30-year-old replaced Miguel Llera at the heart of their rearguard. Loovens, formerly of Cardiff City where he played alongside Owls captain Roger Johnson, was not granted international clearance in time for the clash at Blackpool last weekend.
Gray made three other changes to the starting line-up, bringing in Kieran Lee, Liam Palmer and Atdhe Nuhiu. Jose Semedo, Jeremy Helan and Lewis Buxton dropped out. A groin injury picked up at Bloomfield Road ruled out Buxton while Michail Antonio failed to shake off a knee problem. It is Lee’s first start of the season, having recovered from hip surgery.
Reda Johnson was not named in the match-day squad again due to an unspecified injury.
Leicester named an unchanged side from the team who beat Millwall on Saturday.
It took the visitors just two minutes to break the deadlock. Anthony Knockaert jinked his way past Joe Mattock before rifling an unstoppable left foot shot into the top corner.
But Wednesday equalised with their first meaningful attack six minutes later.
Wickham deftly controlled Liam Palmer’s looping cross to the back post, cut inside Marcin Wasilewski and then he fired in a stunning right foot effort which gave Kasper Schmeichel no chance.
It was Wickham’s third goal in five Wednesday starts. He also scored at Leicester while on loan with the South Yorkshire club last season.
The goal visibly lifted the hosts and Giles Coke slipped a lovely pass into the path of Wickham and he forced Schmeichel into a smart stop at his near post.
Leicester wasted a glorious opportunity to regain the lead in the 20th minute when Lloyd Dyer raced on to Paul Konchesky’s inviting through ball but he blazed over.
They were made to pay for their profligacy as Wednesday, seeking only a second win of the season, went ahead through Wickham. The s20-year-old triker, on-loan from Sunderland, whipped in a low cross which flew into the back of the net.
Wednesday had a huge let off just after the half hour mark. Jamie Vardy, on the Owls books as a teenager, latched on to Konchesky’s long ball, having beaten the off-side trap, but he slipped as he was about to pull the trigger, allowing Martinez to hold on to his weak effort.
Two minutes after the re-start, Leicester almost levelled through Vardy but he was brilliantly foiled by Martinez. One-time England international David Nugent picked up the loose ball only to fire wide.
The momentum was with the visitors and it took a fine save from Martinez to deny Nugent after a weak clearance from Palmer.
With 13 minutes remaining, Wickham came close to grabbing his hat-trick after good play from Lee. His piledriver from distance was tipped over the top by the backpedalling Schmeichel.
Moments later, Martinez was again called into action as the on-loan Arsenal shot-stopper kept out substitute Chris Wood’s header after a dangerous centre by Konchesky.
Ref: Mark Brown
Sheffield Wednesday: Martinez; Lee, Roger Johnson, Loovens, Mattock; Palmer, Olofinjana, Coke, Maghoma; Nuhiu, Wickham. Substitutes: Kirkland, Semedo, Jermaine Johnson, McCabe, Helan, McPhail, Llera.
Leicester City: Schmeichel; Miquel, Wasilewski, Morgan, Konchesky; Knockaert, James, Drinkwater, Dyer, Nugent, Vardy. Substitutes: Logan, Hammond, King, Schlupp, Moore, Taylor-Fletcher, Wood.
Read Paul Thompson’s analysis in Wednesday’s Star.
What do you think about a win for Gray and his team?