A spectacular first half strike by Giles Coke ensured Sheffield Wednesday claimed a 1-0 victory over ten-man Brighton and Hove Albion in their opening Championship tussle.
Coke curled an unstoppable left foot shot beyond Seagulls debutant David Stockdale from 25 yards to send the 2,667 Owls fans who made the trip home happy.
Stuart Gray’s side comfortably held on in the second period, with Andrew Crofts dismissed in the 50th minute after a late tackle on Sam Hutchinson.
Both sides cancelled each other out in the early skirmishes. Jake Forster-Caskey became the first player to go into the referee’s notebook in the 10th minute after a late challenge on Kieran Lee.
O’Grady turned sharply near the Owls box before dragging a left foot shot well wide following good play by Bruno Saltor on the right hand side. It was Brighton who continued to ask the majority of the questions and Kazenga LuaLua forced Westwood into a smart stop after Lee was robbed of possession just inside Wednesday’s half.
The visitors posed little threat as an attacking force. Atdhe Nuhiu could count himself fortunate not to be cautioned after a clumsy tackle on Bruno.
With Nuhiu isolated up front, Wednesday struggled to string anything together and the Seagulls stayed in the ascendancy. Rohan Ince blazed over when well-placed befor LuaLua unleashed a weak right effort which drifted harmlessly off target after cutting inside on to his right foot.
In a rare forway forward, Chris Maguire fed Jacques Maghoma, who, off the balance, sliced wide.
It took a superb header by new Brighton signing Aaron Hughes to prevent Nuhiu from reaching Joe Mattock’s teasing delivery.
Three minutes before the interval, Wednesday broke the deadlock courtesy of a spectacular finish by Coke. He curled a glorious shot past David Stockdale following a neat lay off by Maghoma.
LuaLua almost equalised on the stroke of half-time but he fired narrowly wide after wriggling his way past Glenn Loovens.
Two minutes after the re-start, Chris Maguire ghosted in unmarked at the back post to meet Mattock’s inviting centre but he volleyed over.
Andrew Crofts was given his marching orders in the 50th minute after a late tackle by Hutchinson. Referee James Linington waited a moment before making his decision but ultimately deemed the challenge was worthy of a red card. There were few complaints from Brighton’s players over the sending off.
Maghoma broke free down the left hand side as Wednesday looked to make their numerical advantage count and he unselfishly opted to square the ball back rather than test the reflexes of Stockdale and his cross evaded everyone in the middle.
With 20 minutes remaining, Brighton came close to levelling things up through O’Grady. He latched on to Gordon Gree’s pass only for Westwood to produce a brilliant save, with the Republic of Ireland international diving to his left and pushing it around for a corner.
The Seagulls kept piling the pressure on and Tom Lees diverted Inigo Calderon’s dangerous cross out for a corner.
At the other end, Nuhiu had a penalty appeal waved away despite appeared to be hauled down by Brighton skipper Greer.
Owls boss Stuart Gray handed debuts to summer recruits Keiren Westwood, Tom Lees and Sam Hutchinson.
Westwood, released by Sunderland at the end of last season, wass preferred between the sticks to Chris Kirkland while Lees, drafted in for an undisclosed fee from Leeds United, partnered skipper Glenn Loovens at the heart of the Owls rearguard.
Hutchinson, who enjoyed a productive loan spell at Hillsborough last season, was set to play in a three man midfield alongside Giles Coke and Kieran Lee, with Jose Semedo only deemed fit enough to be named on the substitutes bench.
Lewis Buxton, Jeremy Helan and Caolan Lavery were sidelined with injuries.
For Brighton, former Owls striker Chris O’Grady spearheaded their attack, having arrived from Barnsley.
Brighton: Stockdale; Bruno, Greer, Hughes, Calderon; Ince, Crofts; LuaLua, Forster-Caskey, Fenelon; O’Grady.
Subs: Ankergren, Dunk, Agustien, Mackail-Smith, Chicksen, Toko, Buckley.
Owls: Westwood, Palmer, Loovens, Lees, Mattock, Hutchinson, Lee, Coke, Maguire, Nuhiu, Maghoma.
Subs: Kirkland, Semedo, McCabe, Zayatte, Floro, Madine, Kelhar.