McGovern's early strike gives Owls a slender edge

Sheffield Wednesday 1 - Brentford 0
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The Independent Football

After four home league games without a win, Sheffield Wednesday managed to triumph when it mattered last night, snatching a narrow advantage over Brentford in their League One play-off semi-final, first leg. The solitary goal came in the first half from their bright Scottish winger Jon-Paul McGovern, but it may be flimsy protection at Griffin Park next Monday evening.

Martin Allen's Bees side were often a match for Paul Sturrock's sometimes naïve rather than wise Owls, but by adopting a relatively cautious approach failed to make as many chances as the home team. In the end, it was just about a just outcome on the night.

On an evening when both managers were experiencing the tension of the playoffs for the first time, Hillsborough was packed, signalling this great old club's former status among the élite they seek to rejoin.

Sturrock was without the Owls' top scorer Steven McLean, who had a foot injury, and suspended on-loan goalkeeper, Paul Gallagher. He brought in David Lucas and Lee Peacock, as well as Craig Rocastle and Glenn Whelan. Martin Allen made wholesale changes to the Brentford side, including a return to Deon Burton to play as the sole striker.

Wednesday's relentless early pressure paid off after just 13 minutes. Lee Peacock's knockdown from a Matthew Hanshaw cross, was cleverly heeled to the feet of McGovern by the wily James Quinn.

The young Scottish winger then blasted a low shot 18-yard diagonal beyond Bees keeper Stuart Nelson with the aid of a deflection off helpless defender Sam Sodje.

After a shaky start to the second half, Wednesday began to assert themselves and nearly made it two when Quinn flicked the ball over under pressure from Turner.

Sheffield Wednesday: D Lucas; L Bullen, P Heckingbottom, R Wood, A Bruce, G Whelan, J McGovern, M Hamshaw, C Rocastle, L Peacock, J Quinn. Substitutes: C Adamson, C Brunt, P Collins, L McMahon, A Talbot.

Brentford: S Nelson; M Turner, A Frampton, S Sodje, M Gayle, S Talbot, E Hutchinson, C Hargreaves, K O'Connor, D Burton, D Pratley. Substitutes: A Bankole, A Myers, J Tabb, I Rankin, S Fitzgerald.

Referee: Michael Jones (Cheshire).