Sheffield Wednesday 1 Preston North End 0 - On-the-whistle match report as 10-man PNE slip to defeat at Hillsborough

Ben Pearson was sent-off in the first half as Preston North End slipped to a narrow defeat against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.

Saturday, 22nd December 2018, 4:04 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 4:55 pm
Preston midfielder Ben Pearson is sent-off against Sheffield Wednesday by referee David Coote

Pearson got a straight red card in the 26th minute for a challenge on Marco Matias, leaving North End a man light for more than an hour.

While the midfielder got the ball with the initial tackle, the follow through with his left foot caught Matias high and saw Pearson get his marching orders.

He faces a four-match suspension with this being his second sending-off of the season.

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Preston right-back Darnell Fisher takes on Sheffield Wednesday attacker Lucas Joao

North End did reasonably well with 10 men but it did need a couple of fine saves from Declan Rudd and the woodwork to keep them in the game.

But they were breached in the 62nd minute, Owls centre-back Michael Hector glancing home a Josh Onomah cross for the only goal of the contest.

However, Tom Barkhuizen missed a great chance to equalise soon after when he put a header over the bar from six yards.

The North End starting XI had shown two changes from the side which had beaten Millwall the week before, Louis Moult returning from injury to lead the attack and Darnell Fisher replacing skipper Tom Clarke who has continued to have issues with his broken nose.

Moult coming back saw Alan Browne drop down to the bench, Moult flanked either side by Lukas Nmecha and Barkhuizen - Daniel Johnson playing in the No.10 role.

Wednesday were under the caretaker charge of Lee Bullen after manager Jos Luhukay's dismissal less than 24 hours earlier.

The early exchanges of the contest fell very much into the 'earn the right to play' category, the action scrappy and having little flow about it.

A low shot from Nmecha after 90 seconds was gathered by Wednesday keeper Keiren Westwood, while Ben Davies put a header well wide after rising to meet a Paul Gallagher corner.

Pearson's red card came when he slid in to challenge Marco Matias near to the centre circle.

The PNE midfielder got the ball with his right foot but the follow through with his left caught Matias high, referee David Coote close to it and quickly producing the red card.

It appeared to be the follow through which Mr Coote deemed reckless, Pearson now facing a four-match suspension - three for this one and an extra game with it being his second sending-off of the campaign.

Johnson dropped off into a deeper position as North End reorganised with 10 men, the visitors in a 4-4-1 system.

It needed a fine save from Rudd in the 34th minute to keep parity intact, the North End goalkeeper diving to his left to claw out a header from Steven Fletcher as it travelled towards the net.

Wednesday hit the woodwork three minutes before half-time, Adam Reach's cross met by Lucas Joao who saw his header come back off the top of the post.

A 43rd minute challenge from Fletcher on Gallagher went unpunished, replays showing it was worthy of a yellow card.

North End lost the services of Moult barely two minutes into the second half, the striker feeling the hamstring which had kept him out of action the previous week.

Browne replaced him and took up a place on the right-hand side of midfield with Nmecha playing up the middle.

Former Preston loanee Reach put two shots from distance off target as the home side put the pressure on in the early stages of the second period.

The deadlock was broken in the 62nd minute, a superb save from Rudd to push away Matias' shot seeing Wednesday win a corner on the left.

It was worked short, Reach whipping the ball to the near post for Hector to flick a header across goal and into the far side of the net.

North End should have equalised three minutes later though, Fisher's cross from the right hand side of the box finding Barkhuizen in the middle who got under it and headed over the bar.

Nmecha was replaced by Ryan Ledson and then Gallagher by Graham Burke as Alex Neil looked for an opening - and fresh legs - to find an equaliser.

But it was to no avail, PNE putting some late pressure on their hosts but were not able to fashion a late chance.

Even Rudd went up for a stoppage-time corner to add his presence in the box, however Wednesday managed to clear the danger.

Wednesday: Westwood, Palmer, Lees, Hector, Fox, Onomah (Hutchinson 80), Pelupessy, Reach, Matias (Boyd 87), Joao, Fletcher (Nuhiu 80). Subs (not used): Thorniley, Baker, Pudil, Dawson.

PNE: Rudd, Fisher, Huntington, Davies, Hughes, Pearson, Gallagher (Burke 79), Nmecha (Ledson 74), Johnson, Barkhuizen, Moult (Browne 48) Subs (not used): Storey, Woods, Walker, Crowe.

Referee: David Coote (Nottingham)

Attendance: 22,366 (615 PNE)