In-form Wednesday on a roll

SHEFFIELD Wednesday are the in-form team in the Championship, having clambered out of the bottom three and into mid-table over the last few weeks.Owls boss Brian Laws scooped the manager-of-the-month award for November this week, pipping the likes of Charlton's Alan Pardew, Hull City's Phil Brown and West Brom's Tony Mowbray.

By Carl Marston

SHEFFIELD Wednesday are the in-form team in the Championship, having clambered out of the bottom three and into mid-table over the last few weeks.

Owls boss Brian Laws scooped the manager-of-the-month award for November this week, pipping the likes of Charlton's Alan Pardew, Hull City's Phil Brown and West Brom's Tony Mowbray.

Following a miserable 2-1 home defeat, at the hands of stuttering Scunthorpe on October 23, Wednesday were third from bottom with just nine points from 12 games.

They were five points adrift of the U's, but such has been the contrast in fortunes between the two clubs over the last six weeks that United are now six points behind their Yorkshire hosts.

Not surprisingly, Laws is set to name the same side that beat Barnsley 1-0 in the Yorkshire derby on Tuesday night. Striker Akpo Sodje obliged with a lethal second-half header, from Burton O'Brien's 61st minute free-kick, to wrap up the points.

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It was Sodje's fourth goal of the season, elevating him to joint top scorer with Deon Burton, who is unlikely to figure against Colchester this afternoon. Burton was a late substitute against Barnsley, but the ex-Derby and Portsmouth front-runner has since tweaked his knee ligaments while playing for the reserves.

Sodje, though, has been the star of the show. In fact, the 26-year-old has enjoyed a productive last couple of years, since being freed by Darlington. He was Port Vale's player-of-the-year last term, scoring 16 goals, including four in the 5-1 win at Rotherham. That was the first time a Vale player had scored four goals away from home in 114 years!

Signed from Vale Park in the summer, Sodje has continued to impress at Hillsborough. He will play alongside former Derby marksman Marcus Tudgay this afternoon.

Following Sodje's goal against Barnsley, Laws enthused: “I'm so pleased for him (Sodje) because again he has been the catalyst in the way we have been working.

“Particularly in this run, he's the one that sets us off with his energy and commitment, and everybody is delighted with him. He's got the biggest grin you could ever see.”

While the U's have mustered just two points from a possible 21 in their last seven fixtures, Wednesday have gathered 14 from a possible 18 in their last six outings.

Laws' men have beaten Blackpool (2-1), Plymouth (2-1), Southampton (5-0) and Barnsley (1-0), and secured away draws at QPR (0-0) and West Brom (1-1).

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