Preston North End 1 Sheffield Wednesday 0 - Match report on a first league win at Deepdale this season
Tom Barkhuizen's early second-half goal gave Preston North End victory over Sheffield Wednesday and ended their awful run at Deepdale.
This was the Lilywhites' first Championship win on home turf this season, it following five defeats in a row in which they had scored just once.
Barkhuizen struck two minutes after half-time with a good finish from just inside the box after a punched clearance from goalkeeper Keieran Westwood had fallen to him.
For a sizeable chunk of the game, North End played against 10 men after the Owls had Josh Windass sent-off.
Windass got a straight red card in the 17th minute for a high challenge on Joe Rafferty which caught the PNE left-back in the face as they competed for high ball in the middle of the pitch.
Slowly, North End took advantage of having the extra man and the goal early in the second half allowed them to control spells of the play and limited Wednesday to very little in an attacking sense.
They could have done with a second goal to make things a little more comfortable in the latter stages, but generally their play was good and the three points deserved - and much needed.
North End's starting XI had shown two changes from the Rotherham defeat before the international break, with Patrick Bauer and Barkhuizen coming in.
Alan Browne was absent following a positive Covid-19 test while on international duty with the Republic of Ireland, while Jordan Storey dropped to the bench.
The nine-man bench included Ben Pearson who was back in contention after a month out with a groin injury. Adam O'Reilly and Tony Bayliss were among the subs.
Corners produced corners at both ends in the early exchanges. In the 10th minute, Barry Bannan's corner from the right dropped beyond the far post where Adam Reach arrived late to lift a shot high over the bar and into the Town End.
Four minutes later at the other end, Rafferty's flag kick was won in the air by Bauer, the ball dropping for Ledson to shoot - his effort blocked for a second corner.
This time Rafferty aimed it to the near post where Emil Riis headed wide.
The big talking point came in the 17th minute as Windass saw red. It happened near to the centre-circle, Windass jumping off the ground to try and reach a bouncing ball.
Both feet were off the ground with his right foot catching Rafferty in the face, referee David Webb having little hesitation in pulling out the red card.
While PNE saw more of the ball after that, it was Wednesday who had the clearest scoring opportunity in the remainder of the first half.
After clearing a Preston free-kick, the visitors broke forward with Massimo Luongo cutting inside from the left channel and seeing a shot deflected into the side-netting at the near post.
North End felt they should have had a penalty in the 38th minute and replays backed-up that view point.
Sinclair went down on the box under a challenge from Liam Palmer but Mr Webb waved play on, Sinclair protesting long and hard afterwards.
Alex Neil made two half-time substitutions, changing early against the 10 men - Paul Gallagher and Jayden Stockley replacing Brad Potts and Rafferty.
Within two minutes of the restart PNE broke the deadlock, taking the lead at home in a league game for the first time since the penultimate match of last season.
Ledson got the ball on the left-wing, switched it on to his right foot and swung a cross into the middle.
Owls goalkeeper Kieran Westwood opted to punch rather than catch, it falling to Barkhuizen just inside the box who wrapped his left-foot over the ball and fired it into the net.
The goal drew the visitors out a bit more, Moses Odubajo firing a shot across the goal and wide after a long throw-in had fallen to him on the left hand side of the box.
In the game ticking into the last 20 minutes, Stockley looped a header too high after getting on the end of a Gallagher free-kick from the right-wing.
Pearson and Sean Maguire replaced Ryan Ledson and Riis in a double change as Neil sought freshness and energy.
Daniel Johnson, skippering the side in the absence of Browne, went close to doubling the lead in the 79th minute.
After a neat exchange of passes around the edge of the box, the ball came to Johnson who worked it on to his left foot and struck a low left-foot shot just the wrong side of the post.
In the 88th minute, Barkhuizen was fouled by Joost Van Aken 25 yards out, the Wednesday defender lucky to only see yellow and not red, bearing in mind he looked to be the last man.
Gallagher took the resulting free-kick, to going over the wall but landing on the top of the net.
PNE: Rudd, Fisher, Bauer, Huntington, Rafferty (Stockley 46), Ledson (Pearson 71), Johnson, Sinclair, Potts (Gallagher 46), Barkhuizen, Riis (Maguire 71). Subs (not used): Earl, Bayliss, Storey, O'Reilly, Ripley.
Wednesday: Westwood, Palmer, Borner, Van Aken, Odubajo (Rhodes 74), Bannan, Luongo (Pelupessy 61), Paterson (Brown 79), Reach, Windass. Subs (not used): Penny, Dele-Bashiru, Shaw, Hunt, Kachunga, Wildsmith.
Referee: David Webb (Lancashire)
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