Ten-man Sheffield Wednesday progressed to round five of the FA Cup on Saturday, with a victory over a tricky Rochdale side, writes Guardian blogger Danny Wearin.
Shortly after the game the news that most Owls fans wanted to hear was finally confirmed – Stuart Gray was announced as the permanent successor to Dave Jones.
Gray has been in charge of Wednesday since Jones was sacked on 1st December.
He has done a tremendous job and has lifted the team from second bottom to 19th place, two points clear of the relegation zone.
The Owls are now eight unbeaten and are just two games away from a semi-final appearance at Wembeley.
They booked their place in the last 16 with a 2-1 victory at League Two high fliers Rochdale courtesy of a goal from Joe Mattock, who 13 minutes later saw red, and a first SWFC goal for Oguchi Onyewu.
Mattock headed the Owls into a second half lead, six minutes after the break, before former QPR defender Onyewu doubled Wednesday’s lead.
A wonder strike from Rochdale’s captain Michael Rose halved the deficit on the hour mark.
Gray’s side had to play the last half an hour with 10 men, Mattock picking up a second bookable offence on 64 minutes.
The Owls held on for the win and sent over 3,000 Wednesdayites into jubilant scenes at the final whistle.
Gray confirmed on Thursday that he was to be the next Sheffield Wednesday manager and that the club would make a statement on Friday.
The announcement was delayed due to the contract being sent back and forth by the lawyers but Gray was finally announced as the boss on a permanent basis just after the FA Cup victory.
Personally, I feel as though Gray should have been given the job after the demolition of Leeds United but Milan Mandaric is very patient and wanted to be certain that Stuart was the right man to take the club forward and I believe he’ll do exactly that.
The Owls will face Charlton Athletic in the FA Cup fifth round as both Championship clubs look to make it into the quarter-finals.