Three second-half goals compounded Nottingham Forest to defeat against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough this evening.
A Marco Matias brace sandwiched inbetween a fine strike by George Boyd saw The Owls run out comfortable winners as Forest's play-off hopes took a big blow.
With five changes to the side that started at Rotherham on Saturday, Martin O'Neill handed first league starts to Luke Steele and Arvin Appiah, while Sam Byram made a return from injury at right back for his first appearance since August. Jack Robinson and Ryan Yates also came back into the starting line-up and it was Forest who made a positive start.
Joe Lolley hit a low drive just wide of Keiren Westwood's left-hand post and then his in-swinging free kick caused problems in the Wednesday defence, forcing Westwood to parry clear.
After a bright start, there was a lull in proceedings until it sparked into life on the half-hour mark. Steven Fletcher saw his shot deflect just wide of the post and from the resulting corner, Steele produced a stunning low stop to deny Marco Matias's powerful effort.
Moments later at the other end, Matty Cash's superb delivery found its way to Joe Lolley who controlled the ball and stabbed an effort at goal which Westwood did well to smother and clear.
A glorious opportunity came Forest's way on 40 minutes as a mix-up in the Wednesday defence saw Lewis Grabban and Lolley in a two-on-one situation. Grabban drove forward with the ball and opted to go alone but didn't connect with the ball properly and dragged his effort harmlessly wide.
Fletcher headed over when well-placed in front of goal on the stroke of half-time as the game had everything bar a goal, but we didn't have to wait long for the deadlock to be broken in the second half as the hosts took the lead on 47.
The Reds were caught napping by The Owls as they won the ball in midfield, then Matias let fly from 30 yards out on the half-volley, catching Steele out of position as the ball nestled into the corner of the net.
It was two 10 minutes later as a neatly-worked move by the hosts saw Lucas Joao lay a header off for Boyd who unleashed a great strike into the far corner, giving Steele no chance as the lead was doubled.
A disastrous opening 15 minutes of the second half was compounded as Wednesday made it three through Matias, with the winger receiving a massive stroke of luck as the ball landed kindly to him following Steele's save to tap into an empty net.
The Reds were still probing as they looked for a consolation strike, with Matty Cash denied by a superb block by Tom Lees on 82 and then Westwood getting down well to deny Lolley. Substitute Daryl Murphy headed wide of the target injury time but Forest couldn't break through as Wednesday ran out winners.
Forest: Steele, Byram, Wague, Benalouane, Robinson, Yates, Colback (c) (Murphy 79'), Cash, Lolley, Appiah (Pele 69'), Grabban (Ansarifard 79')
Unused subs: Pantilimon, Carvalho, Janko, Yacob
Bookings: Byram 44', Benalouane 64'
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood, Palmer, Lees (c), Hector, Fox, Pelupessy, Reach, Matias (Lazaar 86'), Boyd, Fletcher (Hooper 62'), Joao (Nuhiu 78')
Unused subs: Dawson, Winnall, Thorniley, Forestieri
Goals: Matias 47', 67', Boyd 58'
Bookings: Hector 18', Matias 57'
Referee: Lee Mason