FIVE things we learned from Sheffield Wednesday 3 Charlton Athletic 0
It turned out to be a super Saturday as far as Sheffield Wednesday were concerned and not just because of what was going on at Hillsborough.
Each of the three teams immediately below them in the race for a play off place - Cardiff, Ipswich and Birmingham - all dropped points making their 3-0 win over Charlton all the more significant.
Here are five things we took from Owls 3 Addicks 0
LOPEZ AND MATIAS LIKE NEW PLAYERS
They'd seemingly been out for so long that some fans will have almost forgotten about Alex Lopez and Marco Matias. Now a couple of weeks after returning, they appear fully fit and are providing Carlos Carvalhal with yet more options in midfield and attack. With a couple of niggly injuries and suspensions being picked up, their reemergence is most welcome at this stage in the campaign.
NO ONE CAN REPLACE BARRY BANNAN THOUGH
While Wednesday toiled in the opening 45 minutes, Bannan's absence was magnified. Without his energy and ability to create space and to pick out a decisive pass, the Owls looked a little laboured in the middle. Solid, but lacking zip. Ross Wallace tried his best to replicate his fellow Scot but he also had other duties on the flank. Thankfully, from a Wednesday point of view, Charlton are at the foot of the table for a reason and eventually folded. The hope will be that against better teams, someone can step up and provide the added tempo that was missing for 45 minutes at least.
NUHIU HAS BIG ROLE TO PLAY IN THE RUN IN
Much-maligned Atdhe Nuhiu hasn't often made an impact coming off the bench, but he certainly did on Saturday. After a flat first half in which Wednesday struggled to find a breakthrough beyond an admittedly disciplined Charlton defence, the Austrian's introduction at half time proved decisive. Nuhiu did what Nuhiu does - he made a nuisance of himself and Charlton struggled with the change of tack. With few games now remaining, his battling qualities are going to be vital, whether starting or coming on.
SPREAD OF GOALS A WELCOME BONUS
Two 3-0 wins on the trot and six different goalscorers...not many teams can lay claim to having so many players finding the net. It's important to have at least one scoring regularly - Wednesday have two in Forestieri and Hooper - because they can be relied upon to dig a team out when needed, but having the rest chip in means there isn't too much pressure on the main forwards.
THAT CROWD, THOUGH...
A lot has been said about attendances, ticket prices etc this season and on Saturday came a validation of the belief that a full Hillsborough can make a big difference. As touched on, the tempo in the first half was slower than Wednesday had been producing this season. But clearly driven by a huge noise around the old ground, the home side lifted their game and responded to the positivity pouring from the stands. Out of the blue the crowd erupted in collective backing and it spread around the stadium. A minute later it was 1-0. The players will need that same level of support from now until the end of the campaign.