Pragmatic and professional Preston North End clinch 0-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday

Preston North End made it seven points from nine with Saturday’s 0-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday
Preston North End’s Liam Lindsay scoresPreston North End’s Liam Lindsay scores
Preston North End’s Liam Lindsay scores

Ryan Lowe wants his Preston North End side to be a bit uglier this season and the Lilywhites showed that pragmatic side once again in Saturday’s 0-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday.

The Lilywhites’ squad is undoubtedly stretched and Lowe needs every player to stand up and be counted in the early part of the season. PNE dug deep once again and got the job done in front of 1,750 travelling fans - who saw a classic North End away performance which contained all the qualities needed for success on the road.

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Manager Ryan Lowe was forced into one change for the match, with Duane Holmes replacing Ali McCann in the starting lineup at Hillsborough. The Northern Ireland international was forced off with a tight hamstring last weekend, so Holmes slotted into an advanced midfield role alongside Mads Frokjaer and club captain Alan Browne dropped deeper to support Ryan Ledson.

Wednesday’s pre-kick-off anthem roars around Hillsborough and is all the motivation visiting teams need to start on the front foot. It has been a hallmark of successful North End teams over the years: the ability to quieten large home crowds simply by doing the basics well.

And Ryan Lowe’s men were able to do that in the opening exchanges. Brad Potts came into the game with confidence high after his all-action display against Sunderland last weekend. The number 44 started brightly and helped get PNE high up the pitch, into some promising final third positions.

Potts saw the first game of the game fall his way, too, with Kian Best’s pinpoint cross picking out his fellow wing-back - whose volley from 12 yards was tipped wide smartly by Devis Vasquez. At the other end, a Lee Gregory opportunity out of nothing saw Wednesday go close as half-time closed in - but Freddie Woodman was equal to his low drive.

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As the two teams headed in at half-time there was the feel of a contest where one goal may prove enough for either side. North End will have been encouraged by their first-half showing, while recognising the need for greater cutting edge and belief in the final third. Defensively, Lowe’s men were largely untroubled and that is always a platform to build from.

A little bit of quality was lacking but PNE’s number 33 provided it four minutes into the second half. Teenager Kian Best - calm and collected again - is taking his opportunity on the senior stage and it was his delicious free-kick delivery into the box which Liam Lindsay attacked with intent.

The big centre-half showed the desire required as his bullet diving header sent the ball soaring into the bottom right corner. In truth, it would’ve been a crime had nobody in red latched on to the ball from Best: one with all the pace and whip you could ever ask for as an attacking player.

From there, North End’s task was straightforward and the Lilywhites negotiated the final stages of the match professionaly - against a side who are evidently yet to find their feet under Xisco Munoz. A succession of long throw-ins were dealt with comfortably and Preston took three hard earned points back to Lancashire.

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PNE XI: Woodman; Storey, Lindsay, Hughes, Potts, Ledson, Browne, Best (Whatmough 77’), Holmes (Woodburn 77’), Frokjaer (Mawene 88’), Keane

PNE unused subs: Cornell, Bauer, Cunningham, Taylor, Leigh, Rodriguez-Gentile

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