Darren Moore finally clinched his first win as Sheffield Wednesday boss on Saturday afternoon to give the Owls a glimmer of hope in their relegation dogfight.
The 46-year-old had lost three and drawn one of his four opening matches in charge amidst a run of eight without victory in all competitions, but his Wednesday side managed to come out on top in the South Yorkshire derby thanks to a brace from Jordan Rhodes.
And the Scottish talisman will, quite rightly, take much of the plaudits – he headed home a cross from Barry Bannan seven minutes before half-time before tapping in an easy second from Josh Windass shortly after the break.
Barnsley dominated large spells of the match, recording 53% possession and managing to fire off double the number of shots on target than the visiting Owls, so perhaps they were somewhat unlucky to only walk away with a late consolation goal.
Moore’s three-man defence were resolute and rock-solid, with German colossus Julian Borner absolutely central to that.
The 30-year-old has emerged as Wednesday’s unsung hero, as he wasn’t letting anything past him on Saturday afternoon. That much was summed up by the fact that he recorded a whopping 20 clearances all by himself.
By comparison, the whole of the Tykes’ squad managed 13 between them whilst Borner’s previous best in one match is eight, so clearly he was playing out of his skin to ensure that the Owls finally picked up the win that they so desperately needed.
Such returns were complimented with three tackles and three interceptions, via SofaScore. He displayed a fantastic ability to read the opposition’s gameplan and then successfully snuff out the danger.
Only two other Owls players had more touches (68) of the ball, both of which more attack-minded options in Bannan (81) and Adam Reach (80), so the £12k-per-week colossus was heavily influential throughout the 90 minutes – simply put, everything played out from the back seemingly came through him.
No defender made more passes (20) than Borner.
YorkshireLive reporter Dom Howson gave his ‘Man of the Match’ award to Rhodes – as we said above, he’ll reap the rewards – but Borner closely followed behind. He wrote:
‘Commanding performance on the left side of the three-man defence. Won his aerial duels, made several vital interceptions and was calm in possession.’
Indeed, commanding was the word for it.
Borner arguably stole the show for Moore this weekend, and without his colossal presence, perhaps it could have been a different scoreline. Their Yorkshire rivals had been in immense form, failing to lose in ten league outings.
AND in other news, Exclusive: Dean Windass still believes Sheffield Wednesday can survive