FORMER Hartlepool United favourite Tommy Miller was on target as Sheffield Wednesday cruised to a 2-0 victory in a dull encounter at Hillsborough.
The Owls skipper opened the scoring in first-half stoppage time with a coolly taken penalty before Gary Madine made sure of the points in the second half.
Mick Wadsworth had kept faith with Adam Boyd in attack but during a turgid affair chances were few and far between for the visitors and they registered just one effort on target.
A flat opening was brought to life when Jermaine Johnson wriggled into the area on 16 minutes but his stab was smuggled around the post by the palms of Scott Flinders.
It was until the 43rd minute that Pools got a sight of goal, and even then skipper Sam Collins failed to find the target as he drilled a 25-yard free-kick well wide of Richard O’Donnell’s frame.
Wednesday were beginning to turn the screw at the other end and only a timely intervention by Collins prevented Madine turning in Jon Ostemobor’s dangerous centre.
But Collins’ timing was somewhat out just seconds later as Neil Mellor tumbled under his clumsy slide, allowing Miller to blast home from the spot.
The hosts started the second period in much the same vein as they’d ended the first and Mellor twice went close from just outside the area, first repelled by Flinders before then seeing a deft chip land on the roof of the net.
But strike partner Madine made no mistake when he was presented with a chance on 65 minutes, the former Carlisle United striker sweeping a low drive into the bottom corner from 14 yards after Johnson’s cross had landed at his feet.
Madine should have had a second late in the game but dithered when put through on goal allowing Flinders to race from his line and smother.
Sheffield Wednesday: O’Donnell, Buxton, Miller (Potter 60), Batth, O’Connor, Teale, Johnson (Coke 68), Jones, Madine, Mellor (Morrison 84), Otsemobor
Subs n/u: Nicholls, Heffernan, Jones, Palmer
Pools: Flinders, Haslam, Collins, Hartley, Horwood, Sweeney, Murray (Mackay 78), Gamble, Monkhouse, Boyd (Behan 66), Yantorno (McSweeney 66)
Subs n/u: Rafferty, Johnson, Larkin, Humphreys