PNE still a work in progress as Sheffield steal a point at the death.
Preston were denied a deserved three points in the final seconds of the game by former loanee Adam Reach who dispatched his shot high into the goal in front of the Sheffield Wednesday fans with virtually the last kick of the game. Although, it was a cruel blow to take, the game had many positive elements; Mcgeedy’s influence in the 2nd half, Pearson’s continued leadership in midfield and confirmation if we needed it, that Preston have missed Gallagher’s quality.
Sheffield Wednesday arrived at Deepdale full of expectation after 5 wins from 6 including an impressive away win at title favourites Newcastle. However, the form book was turned on its head as Preston made Wednesday look very ordinary throughout the game, created some good chances, but ultimately failed to make their superiority count.
Wednesday brought another large away fan contingent, but after Preston’s Boxing Day crowd anomaly, Deepdale was almost 7,000 fans lighter, as many Preston fans stayed away. They were wrong to do so, as right from the kick off it was clear that Preston wanted to make amends for the Leeds performance and with Mcgeedy and Gallagher in midfield alongside Pearson and Johnston, Preston looked dangerous going forward.
Although Preston dominated the first half, the only two notable chances were a penalty shout from Gallagher as he ran through and collided with Westwood the Wednesday keeper and Robinson’s speculative long-range shot that the Owls keeper pushed round the post.
Another former Preston player, David Jones replaced Wednesday’s ineffectual giant striker Nuhia at half time, but his impact made little difference to the pattern from the first half. Wednesday dug deep as wave after wave of attack often orchestrated by McGeady whose obvious skills started to have purpose as his passes continued to find a Preston player in dangerous positions.
Preston had the ball in the Wednesday goal twice, each time disallowed by the third official, the first for an alleged foul on Westwood by Huntington and the second for offside against Hugill as he chested the ball to Robinson who finished smartly.
The final breakthrough came as McGeady and Cunningham combined on the left hand flank which allowed Greg to drive towards the Wednesday goal and as he was bout to be challenged scuffed his shot goalwards, on target, it took a deflection from a Wednesday player which took it high into the goal. 1-0 to Preston and no more than they deserved.
The goal did not really spark Wednesday into life and Preston continued to press with McGeady hitting the post for what would surely have been a decisive goal. Simon Grayson made his customary late defensive substitutions to try and see out the game, but they proved futile as with almost the last kick of the game Reach smashed the ball past Maxwell and what seemed like 5 Preston players in and around the box for an undeserved equaliser.
Many fans walked away from the ground disappointed with the result, but for me, the game was another step forward in the evolution of a club with limited financial resources, small fan base (it would be great if the Boxing Day fans came every week to support their local team) and a sensible wage structure to attract players. The team spirit of the group is there for all to see and the quality of some players among the best in the division. Of course a win would have been a great result but I for one am looking forward to a bright 2017. Bring on Burton Albion on 2 January 2017.
Preston North End 1 – 1 Sheffield Wednesday