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Match Reports

Preston North End 3 Sheffield Wednesday 3

27 April 2019

Goals from Jayden Stockley, an own goal from Tom Lees and another from Alan Browne saw the Lilywhites share the points in a six-goal thriller against Sheffield Wednesday.

Steve Bruce's Owls came from 3-1 down to take a point, with Barry Bannan, Fernando Forestieri and Atdhe Nuhiu scoring the Owls in the final home game of the 2018/19 season at Deepdale.

It was a highly-entertaining clash that had everythings; some fantastic football, some great goals scored, a red card and everything you could think of; making it easy to forget the cold, damp weather!

The visitors, who were still mathematically in with a chance of the Play-Offs before kick-off, had the first chance, Bannan forcing a save from Connor Ripley, handed his North End debut by manager Alex Neil.

But this was a rare effort in the opening half an hour for the South Yorkshire outfit and the Lilywhites were soon in front.

The opener came just nine minutes in; a brilliantly worked free kick direct from the training ground. Paul Gallagher - in the middle of the Wednesday half - found Callum Robinson out on the left, who checked inside and crossed, flicked on by Browne and powerfully headed home by Stockley, his first goal at Deepdale and his 20th of the season for both PNE and former club Exeter City.

On 20 minutes a clever quick throw in from Darnell Fisher found Robinson who went into the box, fired through a low drive which was spilled by visiting stopper Cameron Dawson, but on loan Chelsea man Michael Hector cleared before Stockley could pounce for his second of the day.

Just after the half hour mark Steven Fletcher got into the box and got a shot away, Ripley making a great save with his legs and Fisher completing the clearance in a rare foray forward by Bruce's men.

But with nine minutes to go in the first half it was 2-0. A ball from the left by Fisher eventually found Joe Rafferty on the right, he drove into the box and drilled a cross in that came off Hector’s heel and then looped up and off Owls skipper Lees’ head into the back of the net with Dawson unable to do anything about the own goal.

With three minutes to go before the interval more superb forward play as Browne won the ball in his own half to send Robinson down the left, he passed inside for Sean Maguire, who, on the stretch, dragged his shot just wide of the left-hand upright to mean it was 2-0 at the break.

The second half started with PNE still on the attack; some superb slick passing with a clever one-two between Robinson and Gallagher, the latter whipping a shot that took a deflection wide of the right-hand post.

But on 49 minutes the arrears were reduced as Bannan shot from 15 yards into top left-hand corner. Hector had put over a deep cross from the left fed back by Steven Fletcher and Bannan fired home, Ripley with no chance, the effort arrowed into the corner, the only spot through a crowd of players it could have gone.

However, the lead was back to two just after the hour mark when a long ball to Stockley was superbly headed on for Maguire, who, in turn, laid the ball across that Robinson dummied for Browne to take on into the box and fire a left-footed shot into the top right-hand corner from 15 yards out for his 12th goal of the season.

But two goals in two minutes got Wednesday back on level terms. Firstly on 76 minutes a cross from substitute Atdhe Nuhiu on the right was met by Fernando Forestieri with a header into the bottom left hand corner.

And then it was Nuhiu who went from provider to goalscorer, heading home Bannan’s cross from the left, although he was all over Ben Davies and was perhaps lucky not to have a foul awareded against him.

With nine minutes to go Steve Bruce’s side were reduced to ten men with a straight red for Dominic Iorfa after a dangerous two-footed lunge with no control on Fisher – referee Jeremy Simpson given no choice to send off the right back for what could have caused injury, had the PNE No.2 not managed to see the former Wolves man coming.

It became a fraught and frantic closing minutes with Paul Huntington added into the attacking options along with Lukas Nmecha and Stockley in the dying embers of the game. And it was Hunts who went closest with two opportunities; the first from a Fisher cross hitting him andgoing just over and the second in the last of six added minutes seeing him head a Gallagher ball towards the top left hand corner, only for Hector to just deflect the ball over the bar and the game finished 3-3.

PNE line-up: Ripley, Rafferty (Huntington, 90), Fisher, Gallagher (c), Storey, Davies, Maguire, Johnson, Stockley, Browne (Nmecha, 74), Robinson (Ginnelly, 87). Subs not used: Rudd, Earl, Moult, Baxter.

Sheffield Wednesday line-up: Dawson, Palmer, Onomah (Nuhiu, 68), Pelupessy, Fletcher (João, 76), Bannan, Lees (c), Matias, Iorfa, Hector, Forestieri (Lee, 84). Subs not used: Wildsmith, Fox, Hooper, Boyd.

Attendance: 15,873 (4,239 Sheffield Wednesday fans)

Referee: Mr J Simpson

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