Preston North End 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday: Poor start for Tony Pulis as Sheffield Wednesday boss
Windass sees red for challenge on Rafferty. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
  • Story of the game

First Half:

The first chance of the game fell to Adam Reach just shy of the 10 minute mark. Barry Bannan swung his corner to the back post, Callum Paterson couldn't meet it with his head but Reach was there on the half-volley but was unable to keep his effort down.

After 16 minutes The Owls were reduced to 10 men when Josh Windass was given his marching orders for an innocuous challenge on Joe Rafferty. As Rafferty bowed to head the ball Windass lead with his studs and referee David Webb thought a red card was warranted. 

Despite North End enjoying the majority of possession, Wednesday still looked more dangerous on the break. Half an hour in, Paterson set Massimo Luongo away. The Australian, back in the fray after missing the last few through a knee injury, cut inside and saw his deflected effort trickle into the side-netting of Declan Rudd's goal.

Ryan Ledson's wayward attempt on the half-time whistle from just outside the area summed up the first half, scrappy and void of quality.

Second Half:

Alex Neil's men came straight out of the traps after the interval and were soon one goal to the good. On the 48th minute Kieren Westwood, playing his first game for 362 days, hesitated before opting to punch the looping ball into the area, rather than catch. He could only find Tom Barkhuizen who volleyed home superbly, first time.

The visitors had the opportunity to hit back 10 minutes later from a Paterson throw. Tom Lees was on hand to flick onto the back post where Moses Odubajo struck left footed but dragged his shot wide.

Daniel Johnson almost wrapped up the points for the hosts with 12 minutes remaining after good build up play from goalscorer Barkhuizen and Sean Maguire. The Lilywhites skipper dragged his sweeping effort narrowly wide of the upright. 

Half-time substitute Paul Gallagher also went very close in the dying embers with a 25-yard free-kick which whistled just over the head of Westwood. Then, from a Wednesday corner Preston hit on the break with Barkhuizen who stabbed past Westwood, Maguire was closing in but Börner was there to clear.

  • Takeaways from the game

Preston pick up first home points of the campaign:

It was beginning to become a problem for Alex Neil that his side were picking up points open the road but were yet to get off the mark air Deepdale. The early sending off made life easier for North End but it still took the encouragement of Neil at half-time for them to up the tempo and get themselves ahead. They were much more assured in the way they dominated the ball and controlled the game in the second 45, and could and should have increased their lead through Daniel Johnson and Tom Barkhuizen. 

Goalkeeping headache for Tony Pulis:

In his first press conference, the new man at the Hillsborough helm sung the praises of Kieren Westwood and despite not being involved in a match day squad for nearly a full year and without first team training for much of that time, he was thrust straight into action. Westwood didn't have much to do but when called upon he failed to be decisive which led to Preston's winning goal. It was harsh on Joe Wildsmith to be demoted to the bench despite recording two clean sheets in two and looking reasonably assured when given the chance between the sticks. However, it must be said none of the three goalkeepers to have played for The Owls this term can say they have covered themselves in glory. A new goalkeeper in the January transfer window may be what is required to help Wednesday escape the clutches of the relegation zone.

  • Man of the match

Daniel Johnson: 

The Preston skipper dictated play from his deep-lying role in the middle of the park. Pivotal in setting up Preston's attack. He should have doubled his sides lead but his all round play was a pleasure. The battle between himself and former Aston Villa team-mate Barry Bannan was what would swing the tie. Bannan was off colour while Johnson was a metronome for his side. 

  • Team line-ups

Preston North End: Rudd; Fisher, Bauer, Huntington, Rafferty (Gallagher 45'); Ledson (Pearson 71'), Johnson; Barkhuizen, Potts (Stockley 45'), Sinclair; Riis (Maguire 71')

Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood; Palmer, Lees, Börner, Van Aken; Odubajo (Rhodes 73'), Bannan, Luongo (Pelupessy 60'), Paterson (Brown 79'), Reach; Windass (sent off 16')