Sheffield Wednesday stretched their remarkable unbeaten run under manager Dave Jones to 17 matches as they dumped Fulham out of the Capital One Cup.
Gary Madine’s 50th-minute second half spot-kick proved decisive but Wednesday fully deserved their giantkilling against a much-changed Fulham side, who couldn’t match their energy and endeavour. The Owls could have won by a far greater margin as the Premier League outfit mustered just one shot on target as they crashed out of the competition at the first hurdle. Fulham’s night got worse after the final whistle after it emerged that the club had accepted an offer for Tottenham for their talented midfielder Moussa Dembele.
After a cagey first half an hour, Wednesday seemed to grow in confidence as if they had realised that this laboured Fulham side bore little resemblance to the team that had been scoring goals for fun in the early weeks of the season. They threatened only from distance but speculative shots from Pajtim Kasami, Matthew Briggs and Steve Sidwell went well wide. Sidwell could have been sent off inside the first half an hour after escaping a second caution for a second spiteful challenge on Wednesday skipper Jose Semendo.
Michail Antonio’s direct running down the right unsettled the Fulham defence. He robbed possession from Alex Kacaniklic and drove deep into visiting territory drawing a low save from Mark Schwarzer after shooting from just outside the box. Madine could only send a free header into the Australian’s arms and Antonio fired wastefully over the bar after being played in by Chris Maguire just before half time.
Wednesday kept up the momentum after the break and referee Paul Tierney ignored strong penalty shouts for handball against Aaron Hughes. He did point to the spot three minutes later when Stephen Kelly felled Maguire and Madine sent Schwarzer the wrong way from twelve yards. Martin Jol’s side did spark briefly into life with Brede Hangeland having a header ruled out for offside.
Matthew Briggs, who had supplied a devilish cross for Hangeland’s chance, then flicked a header goalwards from a corner to force Stephen Bywater into his only save of the evening and, with every expectation of a grandstand finish from Fulham, it was actually Wednesday who came closest to adding another goal. Schwarzer did superbly to keep out a rasping shot from Nejc Pecnik, tipping a drive from distance onto the crossbar.
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (4-4-2): Bywater; Buxton, Jones, Llera, Beevers; Semedo, Coke, Antonio, Pecnic; Madine, Maguire (Rodri 69). Subs (not used): Jameson, Johnson, McCabe, Mayor, Lee, Lavery.
GOAL: Madine (pen 50).
FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Schwarzer; Kelly (Riether 71), Briggs, Hughes, Hangeland; Baird, Sidwell; Duff, Kacaniklic, Kasami (Trotta 63); Rodallega. Subs (not used): Stockdale, Halliche, Smith, Diarra, Ruiz.
BOOKED: Sidwell, Kasami, Briggs, Baird.
REFEREE: Paul Tierney (Lancashire).