Sheffield Wednesday play host to Wycombe Wanderers for the first time since 2012 when the Owls won promotion back to the Championship
Last time Wednesday played Wycombe at Hillsborough they needed the points to get promoted to the Championship, now they need the points to stay in it. Ironic, right?
The Championship strugglers will make the two-and-a-half-hour trip to Sheffield on Tuesday in an attempt to pick up only their fourth win of the season in what can only be described as a relegation six-pointer.
However, this won’t be an easy task for the Chairboys, as Sheffield Wednesday find themselves in a rare rich vein of form, winning four out of their six league games under the temporary guidance of Neil Thompson.
Wycombe sit bottom of the league with 16 points, but they have a game in hand on Wednesday who sit one place higher with a nine-point cushion. While a win for Wycombe wouldn’t see them climb above the Owls, it would inevitably give them a big confidence boost and could potentially give them a fighting chance of climbing the table in the future.
A win for Sheffield Wednesday would arguably be even bigger, as it would lift them out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
To achieve this, the Owls will need to show a great deal of character to overcome their demoralising loss at the hands of Millwall.
Wednesday started the game the stronger of the two teams, going 1-0 up after ten minutes thanks to a close-range Callum Paterson strike.
Despite controlling large parts of the first half, a mistake from Joey Pelupessy granted Millwall a penalty on the stroke of half-time, converted by the Owls-linked Kenneth Zohore.
The wheels fell off in the second half, with Millwall going on to score three more goals, scored by Scott Malone, Ben Thompson and Tom Bradshaw, with Wednesday well and truly shellshocked. The scoreline ended up 4-1.
Gareth Ainsworth’s weekend wasn’t much more enjoyable, as he watched his team get beaten 3-0 in their own backyard by fellow league-strugglers Nottingham Forest.
While Wycombe managed 11 shots, they didn’t have anywhere near enough cutting edge in their play and were therefore punished by strikes from Glenn Murray and Anthony Knockaert.
What have the managers said?
Sheffield Wednesday didn’t hold a pre-match press conference for this fixture, but Thompson did touch upon the Wycombe encounter post-Millwall.
“It’ll be another tough game; they’re fighting for their lives, aren’t they? Nothing changes, it’s the Championship and there are all sorts of challenges.
“Is it a must-win? We’ll see at the end of the season. We’re aiming to get three points on Tuesday, but obviously they’re down there in the lower reaches of the table and they’re also desperate for the three points.”
Like their opponents, Wycombe also didn’t hold a pre-match press conference, but Ainsworth was also quizzed on the upcoming fixture after the Forest encounter.
“I am in dreamland with Wycombe in the Championship,” he said.
“I have got a bunch of boys in there who are so disappointed and down because they really want to compete and sometimes, things go against you.
“But we will be picked up on Tuesday without a doubt.
“We have got some big games now, but we are well up for the fight.”
For the Owls, Dominic Iorfa will miss this game – and likely the rest of the season – with an Achilles injury, while Moses Odubajo (hamstring), Massimo Luongo (thigh) and Joost Van Aken (ankle) are all doubts.
Chey Dunkley and Liam Shaw have also made their returns from injury in the last couple of games, so both should be available for selection.
For the Chairboys, Joe Jacobson is a doubt, having missed the last two games through a knee injury. However, he is back in training alongside Dominic Gape, but both will have to pass fitness tests in order to feature at Hillsborough.
What happened last time?
The last time these two teams faced off against each other won’t represent good memories for the Wednesday faithful, but it will for Wycombe fans.
On the cusp of half time, Wycombe midfielder David Wheeler headed home to send the Chairboys into the second half with a 1-0 lead.
Garry Monk’s Wednesday tried everything to get a goal, but in the end, a resolute defensive display, coupled with a lacklustre attacking showing saw that the game ended 1-0.
To the delight of Gareth Ainsworth – who watched on from a hospital bed after undergoing a back operation the previous day – his team picked up their first win of the season, while Sheffield Wednesday sat bottom of the table on minus-four points.