Preston North End 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1 - Daniel Johnson's brace condemns Owls to second league defeat of the season

Sheffield Wednesday's miserable record at Preston North End goes on as they suffered a 2-1 defeat Deepdale this afternoon.

Saturday, 24th August 2019, 2:32 pm
Updated Saturday, 24th August 2019, 6:11 pm

Daniel Johnson scored two penalties either side of half-time to sentence them to a second defeat in five matches.

Steven Fletcher headed home substitute Adam Reach's delivery in the closing stages to set up a grand-stand finish but the Lilywhites held on to secure a third successive home win.

The defeat means Wednesday have won just one of their last 22 matches at Preston. Their last victory came back in December 2011.

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Preston North End v Sheffield Wednesday

Wednesday threatened to take the lead inside the opening minute after Steven Fletcher flicked on Keiren Westwood's goal kick into the path of Kieran Lee but Joe Rafferty spotted the danger and whacked the ball behind for a corner.

Lee, preferred to Adam Reach in the centre, featured prominently in the early stages. His energy and ability to run in between the lines caught the eye.There was a promising moment in the 19th minute when Kadeem Harris raced on to Barry Bannan's incisive pass and pulled the ball back into the danger zone for Fletcher. The cross was slightly behind Fletcher and the Scotland international was unable to turn the ball in from close range.

Both sides struggled in the soaring heat to create chances and kept giving the ball away at regular intervals.

Big centre-back Julian Börner, who has been a revelation since moving to Hillsborough, glanced Bannan's corner wide as the visitors pressed for the opener.

But Preston, slightly against the run of play, broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute from the penalty spot. Moses Odubajo got the wrong side of Sean Maguire and clumsily bundled the Republic of Ireland international to the ground. Although Westwood guessed the right way and managed to get a hand on Johnson's spot-kick, he couldn't keep it out.

The Lilywhites grew in confidence after Johnson's opener and Börner was forced to slide in at the back post to clear behind a dangerous delivery from Maguire for a corner.

Wednesday lacked drive and creativity in the final third, prompting Bullen to freshen things up at half-time. Fernando Forestieri was introduced, with the disappointing Jacob Murphy making way, as the visitors switched from a 4-3-3 system to 4-4-2. Forestieri partnered Fletcher up front and Lee moved to the right wing.

'Oh, Forestieri' sang the away end but the diminutive forward was given little room to manoeuvre to by Preston's well-organised defence.

Indeed, the hosts nearly doubled their advantage after the hour mark following a defensive slip by Börner. Substitute Tom Barkhuizen raced clear only to see his effort from an acute angle superbly blocked by Westwood.

It proved a short reprieve for the Owls, with Preston grabbing a second from the spot after Odubajo brought down Maguire again. It was a blatant penalty and Johnson made no mistake from 12 yards, sending Westwood the wrong way.

Bullen took a beleaguered Odubajo off and threw on Reach in an attempt to inject some impetus into his side.

But Preston, with their tails up, carried the greater attacking threat. Johnson, looking for a hat-trick, curled a free kick into the side-netting before Barkhuizen drilled a right foot shot over the top from just outside the penalty area.

With 12 minutes remaining, Fletcher handed the Owls a lifeline. He peeled away to the back post to head home Reach's glorious cross.

The pendulum swung Wednesday's way as Atdhe Nuhiu, who was a handful after coming on as a second half replacement, and Forestieri tested the reflexes of Declan Rudd.

Ultimately, Preston held their nerve to continue their fine start to the campaign.

Preston: Rudd; Fisher, Davies, Bauer (Storey 62), Rafferty; Browne, Pearson, Johnson (Gallagher 85); Bodin (Barkhuizen 58), Maguire, Stockley. Substitutes: Ripley, Harrop, Green, Potts.

Owls: Westwood; Odubajo (Reach 66), Lees, Börner, Fox; Hutchinson, Bannan, Lee (Nuhiu 72); Murphy (Forestieri HT), Harris, Fletcher. Substitutes: Dawson, Rhodes, Luongo, Iorfa.

Attendance: 15,715

Referee: Robert Jones (Merseyside)