There is an art to winning ugly.
Top teams know how to grind out results when not at their best.
Sheffield Wednesday, without their two major goalscoring outlets in Fernando Forestieri and Gary Hooper, showed plenty of grit and determination in Tuesday’s home win against Barnsley.
It was not always pretty but an own goal by Angus MacDonald and a late strike by Sam Hutchinson ensured they got their promotion bid back on track.
Ross Wallace, a second half substitute, said: “In some games, you are not going to be really at it but you have to learn how to win and I think that was the case against Barnsley. We just dug in and got the goals at the right times.
“It was a difficult game as they played some good stuff. Barnsley put the ball forward quickly and have got a lot of fast, tricky players.
“You can tell they’ve got a bit of a free hit this year after coming up and they played some good stuff.”
Hutchinson’s 80th minute goal gave Carlos Carvalhal’s side some much-needed breathing space as they secured a 14th victory in their last 16 meetings with the Reds at Hillsborough.
“It was nice to get the second goal which we haven’t always managed to get this season,” conceded Wallace. “We have not been taking our chances in games and finishing teams off and it has been coming back to bite us in certain games.
“There have been times where we have been on top and conceded goals.
“We weren’t at full flow against Barnsley, who had a more of the ball and looked more threatening than us going forwards, but we dug in.”
Next up for the Owls is a home encounter with basement battlers Rotherham United.
Wallace said: “All the games are hard in this division. It will be another tough game.
“It is another derby and they are different to other games so we are going to have to be at it to get three points.”
Despite their recent reversal at Reading, Wallace is convinced the Owls are heading in the right direction.
The Scot said: “Reading was disappointing.
“I thought we managed them well and in the second half if Lucas [Joao] had taken his chance and we had gone 1-0 up then they would have had to come out and we could have hit them on the counter attack.
“But Reading got the deflected goal so we had to come out and they hit us on the counter attack. That’s how nip and tuck it is between the teams at the top.
“We are not far away from being at full flow. The good thing is we are winning games. We want to still be up there come mid-January.”