Sheffield Wednesday 2 Preston North End 0 full-time

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Preston North End turned in another poor performance as Sheffield Wednesday comfortably beat them at Hillsborough.

Two second-half goals from Gary Madine did the damage, although the scoreline could have been more emphatic with the promotion-chasing Owls having by far the better of the game despite never being at their best.

North End only really threatened at set-pieces, and mustered up just two half chances in the second period as they looked for a way back into the game.

It’s two wins in 15 games now for Graham Westley and points are still required to ensure League One safety.

Westley picked five centre-halves for the visit to South Yorkshire, with Aaron Brown starting up front and Max Ehmer in midfield.

They joined Craig Morgan and Chris Robertson who played at the heart of the defence, with Bailey Wright at left-back.

It was little surprise then that there was little to shout about for the few hundred PNE fans who travelled to Hillsborough for Gentry Day.

Wednesday came close to taking a third minute lead when Michail Antonio’s pass across the edge of the box found Jermaine Johnson who guided a first-time shot inches over the bar.

Reda Johnson’s long ball into the box almost carried into the net but dropped just over the bar as Thorsten Stuckmann scrambled back.

In the 17th minute, Brown met a Paul Parry corner 10 yards out but didn’t make the best contact with it and his header dropped wide.

A free-kick at the other end from Chris Lines - conceded by Ehmer which earned him a yellow card - sailed over the bar without troubling Stuckmann.

With half an hour gone, an Andy Procter shot deflected behind off Owls skipper Rob Jones.

Paul Coutts swung in the corner from the right which Brown met by headed wide of the far post.

In the 36th minute, Nile Ranger made a surging run down the middle and played in Antonio on the right side of the PNE box.

His low cross into the middle was scooped clear at the expense of a corner by Chris Robertson.

Johnson saw a 41st minute free-kick hit the Preston wall and go behind, and when the resutling corner found its way to him, he drilled a low shot into the side-netting.

A Parry free-kick, struck low along the floor, was comfortably held by keeper Stephen Bywater.

As the game moved into first-half stoppage time, Jermaine Johnson let fly with a 25 yard which Stuckmann dived to push behind.

Then Coutts and Parry worked a short free-kick routine, Parry’s powerful shot hitting a defender and bouncing clear.

After the goalless first half, it took less than four minutes of the second period for the stalemate to be broken.

Wednesday muscled PNE out of possession on the half-way line, the ball worked to Lines who surged forward before slipping a pass towards Madine.

The striker let the ball run across him before firing a first-time shot from the edge of the box into the top corner at Stuckmann’s near post.

Jermaine Johnson cut inside from the left-wing and saw his right-foot drive bounce off Stuckmann and go behind.

Westley took off Cummins and Brown in the 62nd minute - the front pair having had little impact on the game - with Hume and Chuks Aneke replacing them.

But they’d hardly taken up their places on the pitch when Wednesday doubled their advantage.

Antonio launched a huge throw-in into the box, Madine rising between Morgan and Aneke to head home from six-yards.

North End responded with Procter having a shot which Lines blocked - referee Geoff Eltringham ruling the Owls midfielder had handled and awarding the visitors a free-kick 25 yards out.

Hume took it but hit his shot into the wall, the ball scrambled clear.

Madine should have completed his hat-trick in the 72nd minute after a long ball forward from Bywater was flicked on into the box by Ranger.

It put Madine clear on goal but he lifted his shot over Stuckmann and over the bar.

A rare second-half chance fell Aneke’s way with eight minutes left, the substitute bustling himself into a shooting position before dragging a 20-yard shot wide.

In the 83rd minute, Johnson got down the outside and lifted a cross over to the far post to find Madine whose header dropped on to the top of the net.

Wednesday: Bywater, Buxton, Llera, Jones, Johnson, Antonio, Lines, Semedo, Johnson (Treacy 90), Ranger, Madine (Lowe 87). Subs: Batth, O’Grady, Weaver.

PNE: Stuckmann, Hunt, Robertson, Morgan, Wright, Coutts, Procter (Holroyd 85), Ehmer, Parry, Cummins (Hume 62), Brown (Aneke 62). Subs: Gray, Arestidou.

Referee: Geoff Eltringham (Tyne and Wear)

Attendance: 18,069