FFC columnist Craig Davies reviews the 95th minute Kevin Phillips winner at Hillsborough on Tuesday night and believes it is now or never for the blue half of Sheffield.
Nobody expected relegation threatened Sheffield Wednesday to beat promotion hopefuls West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday night, and expectations tuned to reality as WBA claimed a 1-0 victory and piled more misery on a lousy season for the Owls.
The nature of the loss though is a very bitter pill to swallow for all Wednesday fans. Jermaine Johnson's sending off on 78 minutes proved to be the turning point in the game. After an altercation with Albion's workhorse captain Jonathan Greening, the referee chose to send the Jamaican winger for an early bath, but to only punish Greening with a yellow. It did seem that Wednesday were going to get through the rest of the game with ten men, but in injury time Championship player of the year Kevin Phillips produced a crushing winner.
Other results on the night made this last minute winner for WBA seem even more crucial. Preston leaped to 20th in the table; now four points clear of the owls after their invaluable 1-0 win away to Leicester, Southampton grabbed a point away at Wolves to go 18th and five points clear, and bitter rivals Sheffield United also came away with a point from Portman Road after a 1-1 draw with highflying Ipswich Town. The only consolation was the 4-1 drubbing that Colchester received away to Plymouth, which ensured that they stayed bottom of the Championship table.
As we are now well into the business end of the season, it is essential that results start to pick up instantly and Saturday's home fixture against QPR who currently lie in 15th could prove to be crucial, but it is hard to see a result coming against one of the in-form sides of the Championship at the moment.
Instead you have to look forward to all the vital six pointers that still lie ahead including two crucial away games on the 11th and 15th March against 24th and 21st placed Colchester and Coventry City respectively. Following that there are a further four pivotal games in April. An April Fools day home tie with Coventry is followed by a trip to Glanford Park to face 23rd placed Scunthorpe. We also see the reverse fixture of the Steel City derby on the 8th, before a trip to the Walkers Stadium on the 26th.
These six games are the ones that Wednesday have to target to drag themselves away from the predicament they currently find themselves in. Poor results in these games could signal a drop back into League One.
If you take a look at the games that the other teams facing relegation have up ahead, then you have to say that Wednesday's run in is much more favourable. They have to forget about the injuries that are currently ravishing the squad and make sure that when it really matters, they grind out the results that count.