The Championship’s comeback kings kept fighting to the bitter end - and their patience paid off.
There was plenty of unconvincing defending, personal milestones and late drama in another extraordinary afternoon at S6.
But Wednesday recorded a third consecutive home win after Kieran Lee’s second-half double cancelled out Henri Lansbury’s 35th minute opener.
Lee, on his 150th outing for the Championship club, took his tally to 17 goals in Owls colours. His second in the 91st minute had Hillsborough bouncing.
A relieved Carlos Carvalhal quipped: “If the plan of the team is to kill me, they are very near, I must tell you! One more game like this and they will kill me!
Lee has established himself as an indispensable member of Wednesday’s midfield. Nobody played more times than the former Oldham City man in their charge to the play-off final last term. He is an underrated player and the unsung hero of the side.
“As a player, he is like a ghost,” said Carvalhal. “Not everyone sees what Kieran does, but all the staff and the players know he is a very good player who works very hard for his colleagues.
“Kieran played over 50 games for us last season and that shows you my opinion on Kieran Lee. He is the kind of player who does not attract the attention but he is the perfect player for the coaches.”
After Carvalhal was appointed, Lee quickly won him over with his attitude and application in training.
Carvalhal said: “After my first week here, I talked with Kieran and said ‘listen, I don’t know if you will play in the first game but I want you to know that I appreciate a lot your abilities and you are a fantastic player and you will do very well with us in the future’.”
Wednesday’s finishing has left a lot to be desired in their opening nine league fixtures. If Carvalhal’s men had shown more of a cutting edge in the final third, the team would be much further up the table.
The Owls’ inability to convert their chances looked set to comeback to haunt them again on Saturday as Lansbury put a compact, well-drilled Forest side ahead against the run of play.
After a positive, forward run by Mustapha Carayol, Lansbury tried his luck from 30 yards and his ambitious attempt deflected off Barry Bannan, who was making his 50th Wednesday appearance, and looped over Keiren Westwood and flew in off the underside of the crossbar.
Prior to Lansbury’s goal, the Owls had made most of the running, with Ross Wallace, Steven Fletcher, chasing his 100th career league goal, and Gary Hooper all denied by Vladimir Stojkovic.
Jack Hunt said: “We started so brightly but we just didn’t take our chances..”
westwood the redeemer
While Lee will rightly take the vast majority of plaudits after helping Wednesday overturn a deficit to win on home soil for the fourth time in five matches, nobody should forget Westwood’s contribution in their thrilling fightback.
The shot-stopper was heavily criticised after giving away a penalty in the team’s last outing against Birmingham City but he was back to his best on Saturday.
The Republic of Ireland international commanded his area with authority and pulled off a smart stop to deny Apostolos Vellios shortly after Lansbury had broken the deadlock.
Westwood then made an even better save after the break to foil the same player. He dived to his left to keep out the Greek striker’s header after a fine centre by Eric Lichaj. If Forest had gone 2-0 up at that point, it probably would have extinguished any hopes of Wednesday mounting a comeback.
lee gets himself in good areas
Cometh the hour, cometh the ‘ghost’. Lee ghosted in unmarked to head in Wallace’s corner midway through the second period. The 28-year-old has an uncanny habit of popping up at pivotal moments and getting on the score-sheet.
“I think it’s to do with the late runs,” he said. “I have been working on getting into positions to score. Last season, I got into a lot of positions but missed a few chances. I didn’t really shoot a lot.”
His practise came to fruition again in the closing stages as he neatly steered in Fletcher’s low centre after good play involving Atdhe Nuhiu and Fernando Forestieri.
Forest argued both of Wednesday’s goals should have been disallowed, claiming they should have been awarded a throw in in the build up to the equaliser and that Ben Osborn was tripped by Sam Hutchinson before Lee’s decisive second. Refereeing calls may have gone the Owls’ way, but Forest still defended the two goals poorly.
It seems only appropriate that the match-winner should have the final say on proceedings.
“It’s not just me scoring these last minute goals; it’s the team putting them on a plate,” said ex-Manchester United youngster Lee.
“It shows the character we have in the squad that we can keep on going when there’s only a few minutes left on the clock.”