Preston North End 3 Sheffield Wednesday 3 - Match report on a six-goal thriller at Deepdale
Preston North End were forced to settle for a draw against Sheffield Wednesday after throwing away a two-goal lead at Deepdale.
The final home game of the season was packed with entertainment, goals and incident - Owls right-back Dominic Iorfa was sent-off 10 minutes from time for a late challenge on Darnell Fisher.
North End led 2-0 and 3-1 in the contest before succumbing to late Wednesday pressure.
Jayden Stockley headed them into a ninth minute lead, one which was doubled by a Tom Lees own goal in the 36th minute.
Barry Bannan fired the visitors back into the contest three minutes into the second half but Alan Browne put PNE 3-1 up just past the hour mark.
However, two headers in the space of two minutes earned a share of the spoils for Wednesday.
Fernando Forestieri met a cross from substitute Atdhe Nuhiu in the 76th minute to head past PNE goalkeeper Connor Ripley.
Then giant striker Nuhiu got in on the scoring act, heading home Bannan's cross soon after.
The North End had shown three changes to the one beaten at Wigan on Easter Monday, Ripley, Browne and Stockley coming into the team with Declan Rudd, Ryan Ledson and Lukas Nmecha dropping out.
Ledson started a four-game suspension while Rudd and Nmecha were on the bench.
It was Ripley's debut, the keeper injured soon after signing from Middlesbrough in January and only returning to the squad for the Wigan game.
PNE made a bright start and that set the tempo for the remainder of the first half.
With just a minute on the clock, Callum Robinson's low shot from the edge of the box was gathered by keeper Cameron Dawson.
Ripley was called upon in the fourth minute to make his first save in the Preston keeper's jersey, diving to his left to push away Barry Bannan's 25-yard drive which had stayed low.
North End took a ninth minute lead having won a free-kick 35 yards out in a central area.
Paul Gallagher played the free-kick out to Robinson on the left who moved the ball on to his right foot and curled over a cross into the box.
Browne got up high to help it on and Stockley stole ahead of the Owls defence to head home from five yards.
Ben Davies sent a header just over the bar after meeting a Gallagher free-kick, then Robinson spun off his marker to latch on to a throw-in from Darnell Fisher and saw his low shot parried by Dawson at the near post.
Gallagher whipped in a free-kick from the left channel which Dawson did well to punch clear from a crowded six-yard box.
In the 32nd minute, Steven Fletcher chased a long ball down the left channel, Jordan Storey standing up him well to prevent him taking an early shot.
Fletcher made it into the box and hit a low shot which Ripley got down to well to block with his left foot.
PNE's second goal came four minutes after that Wednesday chance.
Joe Rafferty ran on to a pass down the right hand side of the box and lifted a cross to the near post.
It deflected off Michael Hector, spun into the air and as Tom Lees tried to clear he succeeded only in nodding the ball over his own keeper.
Three minutes before half-time, Maguire slid in to meet a low cross from Robinson but saw his effort go the wrong side of the target.
An early second half chance saw Gallagher's shot from 20 yards touch off a defender and go behind for a corner.
However, it was Wednesday who drew blood next to reduce the deficit in the 48th minute.
North End twice blocked efforts from a corner, the ball falling to Bannan who drove home a left-footed shot from the corner the box.
A spell of pressure from the visitors followed, North End having to defend their box well.
The closest Wednesday went in that period was a shot from left-back Liam Palmer which deflected off Gallagher and flew behind for a corner.
That pressure was relieved by Preston's third goal in the 62nd minute.
A long ball forward was won by Stockley in the air who flicked on to Maguire, his header falling past Robinson and into the path of Browne who ran into the box before slamming a left-foot shot past Dawson from 14 yards.
But if North End thought they were homed and hosed with that goal, they had to think again as Wednesday hit back with two goals in two minutes - both headers.
In the 76th minute, Nuhiu's cross the right flicked off Fisher's head and was met by Forestieri who headed home from eight yards.
After being the supplier of the second goal, it was Nuhiu who equalised two minutes later.
Bannan sent over a cross from the left, Ripley seemed to be caught in two minds of whether to come off his line and Nuhiu muscled past Davies to head home at the far post.
The drama didn't stop there, Iorfa getting a straight red in the 80th minute for taking out Fisher with a late challenge on the touchline in front of the dug outs.
Both sides looked for a winner in the closing stages, Maguire seeing a shot blocked in the Wednesday box.
At the other end, Lucas Joao's 90th minute volley was goalbound until Ben Davies got his head to it and took the ball behind for a corner.
PNE: Ripley, Rafferty (Huntington 90), Storey, Davies, Fisher, Gallagher, Johnson, Maguire, Browne (Nmecha 74), Robinson (Ginnelly 87), Stockley. Subs (not used): Earl, Moult, Baxter, Rudd.
Wednesday: Dawson, Iorfa, Hector, Lees, Palmer, Bannan, Matias, Onomah (Nuhiu 67), Pelupeesy, Forestieri (Lee 84), Fletcher (Joao 77) . Subs (not used): Fox, Hooper, Boyd, Wildsmith.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Carnforth)
Attendance: 15,873 (4,239 away)