2017/18 English League Championship, Regular Season
  • Steven Fletcher (64')

Steven Fletcher fires up Sheffield Wednesday at Fulham

Steven Fletcher ended Sheffield Wednesday's winless run by sealing a 1-0 victory at Fulham.
Fletcher pounced in the 64th minute to settle a poor match. But Fulham, who have still yet to break their league duck, looked a pale imitation of the side that marched to last season's play-offs.
Slavisa Jokanovic's side scored goals for fun last timer but, after dominating the first half, looked devoid of ideas and ran out of gas.
Both of these sides reached last season's semi-finals but had been showing signs of a hangover following their defeats.
They had been struggling to score goals and it was no surprise to see Fulham hand new B£8million striker Rui Fonte an instant debut, having joined from Braga just 48 hours earlier.
Fonte's arrival, in a bid to inject some fresh impetus into their attack, freed up Sone Aluko to take up a deeper position.
And it almost reaped immediate rewards when Aluko missed a golden chance to draw blood in the 20th minute.
Kevin McDonald's corner was the flicked on and Aluko found himself unmarked at the back post but was unable to divert his close-range header onto the target.
It was the closest this cagey game had come to an opening goal before Stefan Johansen's 24th-minute strike.
Aluko's cross was cleared to the Norwegian midfielder, whose rasping 25-yard drive went just inches over Keiren Westwood's crossbar.
Wednesday were offering little going forward and continued to ride their luck at the other end with Aluko just failing to touch home after another corner caused panic in the visitors' box.
The Owls continued to look vulnerable from set-pieces, with McDonald this time heading over from a Fonte free-kick on the stroke of half-time.
Carlos Carvalhal knew his side could not continue with their lack of threat in the final third. There was the option of bringing on Fernando Forestieri, back in the squad after off-the-field rumblings.
But it was Fulham who still made all the running, with Ryan Sessegnon dragging a shot wide after Denis Odoi's pass had split open the Owls defence after 55 minutes.
Wednesday thought they had taken the lead moments later, against the run of play. Barry Bannan's shot was saved by David Button with Fletcher firing home the rebound, only for the offside flag to deny them the opener.
But Fletcher would not be denied in the 64th minute with a low volley after stealing in unmarked to convert Adam Reach's cross.
Neeskens Kebano, the Fulham substitute, forced Westwood into a smart save. But Fulham were looking increasingly predictable as they searched for the leveller.
Fonte fired over the top in a rare attack of note as Sheffield Wednesday get their league season off and running at the fourth attempt.

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English League Championship Standings

1 Sheffield United 12 +8 25
2 West Bromwich Albion 12 +14 24
3 Leeds United 12 +13 23
4 Middlesbrough 12 +8 22
5 Nottingham Forest 12 +4 19
6 Sheffield Wednesday 12 +1 19
7 Brentford 12 +6 18
8 Derby County 12 +2 18
9 Norwich City 12 0 18
10 Blackburn Rovers 12 -1 18
11 Swansea City 12 +3 17
12 Wigan Athletic 12 -2 17
13 Bristol City 12 +2 16
14 Stoke City 12 -1 16
15 Aston Villa 12 0 15
16 Bolton Wanderers 12 -5 15
17 Birmingham City 12 +1 14
18 Queens Park Rangers 12 -10 14
19 Rotherham United 12 -10 11
20 Millwall 12 -6 10
21 Reading 12 -5 9
22 Preston North End 12 -6 9
23 Ipswich Town 12 -7 9
24 Hull City 12 -9 8

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