FOUR talking points from Preston North End’s win over Sheffield Wednesday

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Preston finally got off the mark at home on Saturday as they defeated Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 at Deepdale.

Tom Barkhuizen’s second-half strike was the difference in the game, with the Owls spending more than 70 minutes with a numerical disadvantage.

TOM SANDELLS looks at four talking points from the game.

1. Finally!

Would Alex Neil have made the changes at half-time if he’d been limited to three subs?Would Alex Neil have made the changes at half-time if he’d been limited to three subs?
Would Alex Neil have made the changes at half-time if he’d been limited to three subs?

It may have taken six attempts, but PNE have got their first win on the board at Deepdale, and it wasn’t a moment too soon.

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It wasn’t exactly pretty, a tense encounter against Sheffield Wednesday in Tony Pulis’ first game in charge of the struggling side.

A red card for the visitors’ Josh Windass after 17 minutes meant the odds were in the Lilywhites’ favour.

That however changed little of the Owls’ approach who from the outset set up on their own box to frustrate – PNE’s weakness.

However the points arrive, though, the main thing is that three more are next to the name of Preston North End now. Against a Pulis side it’ll likely never be pretty, but it was effective.

2. A ‘Plan B’.

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As mentioned, Wednesday came to frustrate and make things hard for the hosts. North End were in complete control from the moment they gained the man advantage. That didn’t equate into chances.

At the break, Alex Neil switched things up a bit.

On came Paul Gallagher and Jayden Stockley and Preston went to a 3-5-2 formation.

Within minutes they were ahead, Daniel Johnson back to making runs between the lines, Stockley causing an issue in the area and Barkhuizen coming in off the wing to score the winning goal. The Owls couldn’t cope with the change, especially at the start of the second half, and that small period of time proved decisive to win the game.

3. Making changes.

PNE have been strong advocates of increasing the number of substitutes and they took full advantage.

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The double sub at half-time likely wouldn’t have happened had Neil not had three further subs up his sleeve. And simply, his later double change would not have been possible.

All of the replacements played their part in the game and the significance of five changes will likely only grow as game time racks up in the unrelenting run until Christmas but it’s already paid off for PNE.

4. The fans played their part.

Preston took the interesting step of adding in some speakers to Deepdale and played some fan noise throughout the game.

It’s been clear that Neil’s side have missed an atmosphere, which complements a high-energy, high-pressing game.

Again, it’s another scenario where only time will tell if it has a noticeable and lasting impact, but so far, it’s a 100 per cent record for the ‘canned’ PNE faithful.