Preston North End recorded their first home win of the season, and are up to 12th in the Championship table after a comfortable 1-0 victory against Tony Pulis’ Sheffield Wednesday on his return to management.
After a poor defeat at Rotherham last time out, Alex Neil made two changes to the side with Tom Barkhuizen and Patrick Bauer returning for Jordan Storey and Alan Browne, who is isolating after testing positive for the Coronavirus.
Wednesday who started the day three points from safety despite coming off the back of two good performances, made four changes, with experienced Irish shot-stopper Kieran Westwood coming back into the side and Tom Lees also returning.
The Lilywhites dominated possession early on, but the first chance fell to the Owls as Barry Bannan headed the ball down to Josh Windass who fired a shot wide from 35 yards out. Wednesday looked to be settling into the game, but in the 17th minute a high-foot from Windass on Joe Rafferty left him seeing red.
The dismissal allowed Preston to continue their dominance on the ball but neither side was able to test the opposition keeper. The best chance of the half falling to Ryan Ledson, with a shot inching past the far right corner.
In truth the first half lacked quality with Preston unable to capitalise on the man advantage and Wednesday struggling to find anything going forward. At the break North End introduced Jayden Stockley and Paul Gallagher to try and get the ball up the field.
The move paid off when just after the restart, Westwood parried a cross from the left hand side to the edge of the box. Barkhuizen lashed home a volley to give Preston the lead. The goal was one of real quality from a winger who just doesn’t perform often enough but with the extra man a win was in their sights.
It was Wednesday however, who could’ve drawn level moments later as Moses Odubajo flashed a shot wide. This was a bright spot in a dismal afternoon for the Blues with the introduction of Jordan Rhodes not testing Declan Rudd.
The only other chance of note was when Jayden Stockley headed over from a Gallagher free kick. But that was the last of any real action in the second half.
This is Preston’s first home win in what has been a mixed start to a season which has seen Deepdale be anything but a fortress. With a Lancashire showdown with Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday, this win will be a massive psychological boost for team.
As for Wednesday the victory against Bournemouth earlier this month has been a high point in a poor run and with Windass joining Kadeem Harris on the suspension list, Pulis will have his work cut out to keep the club in the Championship.