Memory match: Owls v PNE

Preston have won five of their 10 visits to Hillsborough since resuming hostilities with Sheffield Wednesday on a regular basis 16 years ago.

Wednesday, 30th November 2016, 1:08 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 12:41 pm
Jon Parkin in the thick of the action during Preston's 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday in 2009

The last of those victories came on October 20, 2009, goals from Neil Mellor and Jon Parkin delivering a 2-1 midweek win.

Both scorers had strong links with South Yorkshire, with striker Parkin hailing from nearby Barnsley.

Fellow front man Mellor knew all about Wednesday, his dad Ian having played for them – Mellor was to end up with the Owls the following season on loan.

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North End had crossed the Pennines on the back of a 4-0 hammering at QPR three days earlier but were still handily placed in the top six.

The travelling supporters might have feared a repeat of the heavy defeat by the way PNE started the game.

Wednesday created three good chances in the opening six minutes.

Lewis Buxton’s shot was saved by Andy Lonergan, then a header from Jermaine Johnson header went over the bar.

Lonergan then made a splendid one-handed save to keep out Leon Clarke’s diving header – the cross had been sent over from Tommy Spurr, now of this parish.

Somewhat against the run of play, North End took the lead in the 20th minute.

Eddie Nolan crossed from the left, Mellor meeting it with a header which glanced off home skipper Darren Purse on its way into the net.

Two Johnson shots in quick succession came back off the same post, the PNE goal living a charmed life.

Wednesday equalised six minutes before the interval.

Neill Collins was pulled up for a foul on Clarke 25 yards out, Michael Gray powering the resulting free-kick past Lonergan.

The home side struck the woodwork again in first-half stoppage-time, Purse’s volley coming back off the post.

North End responded well, some wise words from manager Alan Irvine during half-time getting them going.

They regained the lead in the 55th minute, Mellor and Parkin combing.

Mellor got down the side of the penalty side and pulled the ball back into the path of Parkin, who side-footed home.

It was a special moment for the ‘Beast’ who had Owls-supporting friends watching from the Hillsborough Kop.

This time, North End were in no mood to let their lead slip, like they had done in the first half.

In fact, they had some good chances to stretch their advantage.

Mellor curled a shot wide, while a volley from Darren Carter disappeared inches over the bar.

By a twist of fate, the next time the sides met, less than five months later, Irvine was managing Wednesday.

He was sacked by PNE in December 2009, but was only out of work for a week before landing the Owls job.

There had been a 19-year gap between April 1981 and September 2000, when PNE and Wednesday had not met in the league – there were two cup clashes.

They finally met again in the second tier, David Moyes’ men pulling off a 3-1 win at Hillsborough.

North End did the double on Wednesday that season, as they did the next campaign.

A third win on the bounce at Hillsborough came in 2003, Richard Cresswell netting in a 1-0 victory.

They lost on Wednesday’s home patch in 2006, winning ways returning in February 2007 when Paul Simpson oversaw a 3-1 success.

There followed a 2-1 loss on New Year’s Day 2008, 
before the teams shared a 1-1 draw in August 2008.

The last two visits have ended in defeat, the infamous ‘Aaron Brown up front’ defeat in 2012, and last season’s 3-1 loss.