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Garry Monk felt decision to make 11 changes justified with win over Rochdale

Queens Park Rangers v Sheffield Wednesday – FA Cup – Fourth Round – Loftus Road
(Image credit: Bradley Collyer)

Garry Monk felt his decision to make 11 changes for the Carabao Cup tie against Rochdale was fully justified as his Sheffield Wednesday side ran out comfortable 2-0 winners.

Goals after the break by Elias Kachunga and Josh Windass confirmed the visitors’ superiority and secured a place in the third round of the competition for the Owls.

Monk’s men made a winning start to their Championship campaign at Cardiff on Saturday and the manager felt the changes were essential.

“I made 11 changes but apart from a couple they were all first-team players, it’s a first-team squad so in terms of changes I had no worries,” he said.

“I had to be very mindful of the energy we used on Saturday and the fact it was important to get minutes into these players because the squad is going to be needed.

“It was an excellent performance overall. I like Rochdale and the way they play and we knew they would test our shape. We set out to press them and I felt when we stepped it up in the second half our fitness levels really started to show with the goals and the chances we created.

“This is only our fifth week back, normally this would be pre-season so it was the first 90 minutes for a lot of the lads but the energy and fitness showed through. We could have scored more but for a few good saves and a lick of paint.”

Wednesday were the better side in the first half after Dale’s Alex Newby had tested goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith in the opening minutes. The Owls went close when Alex Hunt’s overhead kick was headed off the line by Eoghan O’Connell.

And Wednesday stepped up a gear after the break. They went close via Hunt’s free-kick, saved by Rochdale’s goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, before Kachunga sent a powerful header past the on-loan Manchester City youngster in the 52nd minute having earlier glanced one against the post.

Adam Reach crashed an effort against the crossbar and Windass wasted a glorious chance before making amends in the 87th minute when he smashed home from close range.

Rochdale rarely threatened, Ollie Rathbone’s deflected effort the closest they came to troubling Wildsmith.

Dale boss Brian Barry-Murphy said: “I thought the lads were brilliant and worked incredibly hard at a time when it’s very difficult for us when we are physically playing catch up.

“We performed very well in the first round at Huddersfield and then we were poor at Swindon in the league on Saturday, but we’ve bounced back tonight with a fully committed display against a very good side.

“I was conscious of not getting distracted by the loss at Swindon and just concentrate on the amount of work the lads are putting in and to try to make sure we came through this game with everyone unscathed.”