Clarke helps Owls fly to 10th
Sheff Wed beat Doncaster 1-0 in their South Yorkshire derby to climb to 10th in the Championship.
Last Updated: 08/11/08 5:54pm
Sheffield Wednesday beat rock-bottom Doncaster 1-0 in their South Yorkshire derby to climb to 10th in the Championship.
The Owls had endured a five-match winless run but secured a valuable three points courtesy of Leon Clarke's second goal in as many games.
The former Wolves man - who scored in the Owls' 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace last weekend - headed home an Etienne Esajas free-kick two minutes before half-time.
They then had to withstand a flurry of pressure after the break to seal the win, their fifth home victory of the campaign, which condemned Rovers to 12 matches without a win.
Owls boss Brian Laws chose the same team that drew at Palace, with Marcus Tudgay asked to support targetman Clarke up front.
Rovers failed to find the net in a home draw against Swansea in their previous game and both strikers from that game, James Hayter and Lewis Guy, made way as the visitors lined up in a defensive formation.
In their place Richie Wellens returned from injury while fellow midfielder John Spicer was handed his first start of the campaign.
Sam Hird also replaced injured loan signing Shelton Martis in the heart of defence.
Both teams looked anxious in the early stages, and uncertain home defending afforded Rovers the first chance with Hird allowed a close-range header after just two minutes, which Lee Grant instinctively flicked over the crossbar.
At the other end Neil Sullivan tipped a James O'Connor shot over after a neat Tudgay flick.
No Wednesday striker had scored at Hillsborough in almost two months before this game, but Clarke and Tudgay were at least giving some indication they were striking up a forward partnership with some neat combination play.
They twice linked up in quick succession to force good saves from Sullivan, before Clarke got the opener just before the break.
The 23-year-old broke free of his markers to meet the dangerous left-wing free kick from Esajas and headed home unopposed from six yards.
Rovers had not scored two goals in a single game this season, prompting their manager Sean O'Driscoll to bring on Guy and Hayter at the break.
The move served to stimulate an otherwise ailing match as Rovers twice went close soon after the break.
James O'Connor hit the roof of the net with a long-range shot before a fizzed free-kick from Gareth Roberts to the six-yard box was only narrowly missed by Brian Stock with the goal gaping.
The game was now an open affair and Clarke made use of the space to break free down the right wing, but his delivery into the area was poor with Tudgay and substitute Jermaine Johnson well placed.
The Owls, despite leading, were seemingly happy to play an open game and could have been made to pay with Wellens shooting just wide while Grant did well to palm a fierce Martin Wood shot away.
The away side continued to knock on the door of an equaliser with Guy prodding a shot from close range that skimmed the crossbar with 10 minutes to play.
Wednesday were holding onto their lead, if not convincingly, and continued to give away possession cheaply.
But Rovers could not make them pay with Hayter spurning the final chance by shooting over with a snap-shot from six yards.