GARY Megson has given the thumbs-up to new boys Miguel Llera and James Tavernier.
Their debuts showed why they have been signed on loan to keep the back four up to strength.
Llera was a strong and cultured deputy at centre-half for the suspended Rob Jones and showed the kind of defending that helped Brentford escape from Hillsborough with a clean sheet.
Tavernier produced the pace and forward runs that marked him out as a decent right-back when he aided Carlisle in a win against the Owls.
They may not been the star men in Saturday’s important victory as the Owls surged into the top two but they ably filled the gaps left by Jones and Lewis Buxton.
Megson said: “James was excellent; his game going forward was very good. He can be pleased with his debut, as can Miguel - he looked pretty commanding - and we’ve come through with a clean sheet. In the main we looked pretty solid.”
Defending capably was an important but relatively small part of the team’s game, however, for they spent much of the match bossing it.
The first half in particular contained football with cohesion and variety, beside the expertise and power at set-pieces which brought the goal for Reda Johnson.
It was no mean feat to win pretty convincingly against a team who were unbeaten in 10 games and set out to stop the Owls by playing 4-5-1 and using a defensive midfield man in front of the back four.
Only in the closing stages was Wednesday’s comfort shaken as Leyton Orient put on a second striker and threw men forward.
In the fourth minute of stoppage time Tavernier made a vital block on sub midfielder Marc Laird as he struck a close-range shot.
“We needed that kind of stuff in a game where we had been cruising,” reflected Megson, “People tend to remember the last 15 minutes of a game, but in the first half we were well on top.
“We needed to score a second goal. We did. But the ref chalked it off for some reason.
“We played some decent stuff but couldn’t get that second goal and relax, and we had to grind out the last 15 minutes.
“When you’re one down with 15 minutes to go, you can just lump it up there and hope something drops for you. People gamble. There’s a tendency to take solace in dropping deeper and playing with more numbers back instead of keeping up what you have been doing.”
But some of the Owls’ passing and movement in the 90 minutes was excellent.
They were worth more than the one-goal lead that they earned when Ben Marshall, unrehearsed, spotted Chris Lines in a good position, played a free kick to him, and Lines crossed to the far post, where Reda Johnson leapt to head into the bottom corner for his third goal of the season.
It was better finishing than Orient midfield player Tom Clarke showed when he headed against the bar eight minutes before that.
Johnson turned in one of his best performances for the club, with his pace, power and aerial strength.
He was never going to be beaten when he soared for a Marshall corner to head downwards and see the ball bounced up into the roof of the net. But the goal was disallowed.
Johnson was also not far away with a header from a Marshall long throw.
There was good work from every Wednesday department, with many players living up to standards they have set themselves.
A better final ball or finish was needed on occasions, however - and Chris O’Grady was unlucky when he got on the end of a Marshall cross but saw his header cleared off the line by midfielder Matthew Spring. The striker also collided with a post and was a cause for concern until he was able to get to his feet.
Megson had a good word for another of his forwards, Clinton Morrison, who went on as a sub for Ryan Lowe near the end: “Clinton was terrific. He did exactly what we wanted him to do. He won balls and he got hold of it three times where he won fouls and helped to take the pressure off us.”
Wednesday did have a late scare when sub winger George Porter had a free header at the far post and sent it across goal.
But then Jose Semedo - his usual rugged self in general play - could have scored one of the goals of the season, running almost the full length of the field in a breakaway for a duel with Ben Alnwick which was won by the keeper, and earlier O’Grady missed a
near-post opportunity created by a Marshall pass.
Megson agreed that his team played creatively but added: “We have a tendency to want to go forward a bit too quickly and maybe not play with enough patience.
“But that’s a work in progress. It’s really difficult for the players when you’re telling them that everything has to be about the result at Sheffield Wednesday; we can’t
come off having drawn 1-1 and say it was a good performance.”
So he believes that while the team’s passing is improving, the demand for results can sometimes make players more hurried than they need to be.
Although the club are now second in the table and will take a keen interest in tonight’s Charlton v Huddersfield game, Megson feels there is no extra pressure on the Owls should they remain in the top two, as they are already used to being a target for everybody else in the division.
“The onus always seems to be on us, I don’t think we’re ever going to play a league game where anybody thinks we’re not going to get anything,” he said.
“The expectation is always on us.
“Yet we were playing a team who were unbeaten in 10 games, so it’s a good result for us.”