Ugbo double gives Sheff Weds’ survival hopes valuable boost9 February 2024
Sheffield Wednesday gave their dwindling survival hopes a shot in the arm on Friday night as they earned a deserved 2-0 win over Birmingham.
Ike Ugbo scored his first goal since joining the Owls on loan from Troyes in January to put Danny Rohl's side in front against the run of play at Hillsborough.
The Canada international doubled his tally and the hosts' lead early on in the second half with the decisive touch on a cross from Marvin Johnson.
Birmingham - who have now won just one of their last nine league games - racked up a total of 25 shots, but could not find a way past England U20 goalkeeper James Beadle.
They stay four points above the bottom three, but firmly in the relegation conversation with 16 games still to play, while Wednesday climb to within five points of safety after their first win since New Year's Day and just their seventh all season.
How Wednesday showed there is plenty of fight left in them
Birmingham were on top from the off and had fashioned four chances inside the first 15 minutes so - given the predictable unpredictability of the Championship - it came as little surprise when Wednesday instead took the lead.
Leeds loanee Ian Poveda collected the ball on the right flank, showed neat footwork to lose his man and laid the ball on a plate for Ugbo to guide home the opener against the run of play after 16 minutes
Birmingham kept the chances coming, though, and created an xG figure of 1.01 from 12 shots; Wednesday were living dangerously at the back at times, but trying to beat Beadle became an arduous task.
In fact, Poveda and Ugbo each had a chance to extend the Owls' lead before the break, but both fired wide.
The hosts' fight did not decrease after the break and they doubled their lead on 53 minutes, when Johnson was afforded time to lift an inviting ball to the far post, where Ugbo leapt above Lee Buchanan to head in.
Tony Mowbray's side did manage to create chances after that; Buchanan's sweet strike hit the side netting, before Jordan James ran into traffic and bent a shot just wide of the right-hand post. Ultimately, they faded as the second half progressed.
When eight minutes were added on by the fourth official, the Blues momentarily upped their game. Seung-Ho Paik forced a strong save from Beadle and Juninho Bacuna hit a bouncing ball wide, but there was to be no reward.
Sheffield Wednesday's Danny Rohl:
"It was a big, big fight from both teams. We fought for every inch today, we had some really good moments with the ball.
"It was a performance from the whole team, all in all it was a close game but we took the win.
"It was important, in our situation, it is just one game with three points and there are 15 games. We have to go.
"I am not speaking about momentum, I am speaking about three points, for me it was a first cup final.
"We know exactly our situation, we know everyone has to be in one direction and if we do this we can be strong and have a chance. But we have to be fighting for 15 games."
Birmingham's Tony Mowbray:
"We had 25 shots tonight and no goals. We had 15 at West Brom last week and no goals.
"We have to be more clinical, we have to take more care. We have got quality at the top end of the pitch but we have to take more care. There is plenty right with the team. The goals are disappointing.
"We have to keep going and believing, there is a long way to go. We have to turn dominant performances into wins.
"I am trying to be positive, they have to shake themselves out of games like this, we have to get in front and win games comfortably.
"I am alright with it, I am not alright to lose football matches, but there is plenty right with the team. We have to take more care."
Both teams are back in action at 7.45pm on Tuesday February 13.
Sheffield Wednesday travel to the King Power Stadium to take on leaders Leicester, while Birmingham host Blackburn at St Andrew's.
Both matches will be available to watch on Sky Sports Football Red Button.
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