Head coach Carlos Carvalhal is convinced Wednesday will be playing in big arenas, such as St James’ Park, on a regular basis within the next 18 months.
It was not a throwaway remark by the Portuguese chief in Tuesday’s pre-match press briefing. He meant every word.
Judging by the Owls’ performance at Newcastle, their return to the top-flight could be sooner than he thought. Lewis McGugan’s 76th minute strike settled a cup clash packed full of endeavour but low on quality. The midfielder grabbed his second goal of the campaign, lashing in after substitute Sergiu Bus made a nuisance of himself.
Both sides had opted to rest senior players, prioritising the league over cup progress. Defender Tom Lees was the sole survivor from the team who edged the five-goal thriller with Fulham, maintaining his ever-present record. Rhoys Wiggins, Lewis McGugan and Jose Semedo were handed rare starts while forwards Modou Sougou and Marco Matias also returned as part of squad rotation. Newcastle made five; they were keen to turnaround their wretched Premier League form while the Owls want to push on from their 13th-placed Championship last term.
But surely it devalues the competition when teams who have not lifted silverware in years field weakened under-strength sides in the early rounds? The Capital One Cup is, after all, a route into Europe. Anyway, that’s a debate for another time!
For now, Owls fans should take great pride in reaching the fourth round of the tournament for the first time since 2002. It was also their first away victory of campaign, heaping more pressure on Newcastle boss Steve McClaren.
Lees starred defensively but there were a number of good individual performances as Wednesday restricted the Magpies to few chances.
It didn’t take Owls’ much-changed line-up long to settle and McGugan blasted a fierce free-kick straight into the Newcastle wall after Mike Williamson unceremoniously brought down Joao just outside the penalty area.
The Owls lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, with the onus on Matias, in the number 10 position, to track back and offer extra midfield cover.
An early goal would have boosted the Magpies’ brittle confidence and they almost got it when Gabriel Obertan sent Moussa Sissoko scampering clear but the attacker saw his right foot drive hit strike the post.
If anything, Wednesday carried a greater attacking threat in the final third and Matias forced Krul into a stop following a loose clearance by skipper Daryl Janmaat before Jeremy Helan was also denied after a fine run.
With Siem de Jong dropping deep, searching for possession, Newcastle had no focal point and lacked ideas at the business end of the field.
The Owls’ pace in the wide positions continued to trouble the Magpies and Joao fired wide after a good counter attack involving Matias and Sougou.
But Carvalhal’s men did not have it all their own way and it took a superb sliding tackle by Lees to stop de Jong from turning in Sissoko’s low centre.
Newcastle’s inability to break down the Owls’ well organised back four frustrated the home fans, who started to turn on the team, with some spectators booing them off when referee Chris Kavanagh blew the half-time whistle.
Sixteen places separate Newcastle and Wednesday in the footballing pyramid but there was anything but a gulf in class. It was hardly a surprise McClaren elected to make two substitutions at the interval to try and inject some urgency.
The introduction of Ayoze Perez added pace and mobility to the Magpies forward line. Seven minutes after the re-start, de Jong released the little Spaniard, who toe-poked on to the post after being flagged for standing in an off-side position.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between at either end but Krul produced a good save to foil Sougou after a clever back heel by Matias and the former Marseille man lashed the follow up over as the visitors, cheered on by over 4,800 Wednesdayites, pressed hard for the opener.
Newcastle almost caught them napping in the 67th minute when Perez raced on to Sissoko’s lovely through ball only to shoot into the side-netting from an acute angle.
After McGugan’s strike, Wednesday went close to claiming a second but Krul pulled off a superb save to keep out Joao’s header, with Bus some how striking the woodwork again inside the six-yard box.
Newcastle rallied in the closing stages and de Jong dragged off target before shooting over to compound their woes.
But it was Wednesday’s night and Bus nearly added further gloss to the scoreline only to be denied by the agility of Krul.
It does not get easier for Newcastle. English champions Chelsea and Manchester City are next up for the Premier League strugglers.
For Wednesday, they head to Brentford full of confidence and self-belief after securing back-to-back wins.
Newcastle: Krul; Janmaat (Mbabu HT); Williamson, Lascelles, Mbemba; Anita, Wijnaldum; Thauvin (Perez HT), Sissoko, Obertan (Toney 71); de Jong. Substitutes: Coloccini, Gouffran, Elliot, Barlaser.
Wednesday: Wildsmith, Palmer, Loovens, Lees, Wiggins; Sougou (Bannan 86), Semedo, McGugan, Helan; Matias (Bus 65), Joao (Nuhiu 80). Substitutes: Turner, Lopez, Price, Pudil.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Lancashire)