Thursday 23 January 2020

Sean Maguire makes Preston debut in opening day victory over Sheffield Wednesday

Sean Maguire has been called up to the Ireland squad
Sean Maguire has been called up to the Ireland squad

Daniel Johnson's late penalty secured Preston a first opening-day win since 2008 as they beat Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 at Deepdale.

Johnson's spot-kick came after Jordan Hugill was brought down by Tom Lees towards the end of a Sky Bet Championship game that Preston dominated.

That solitary goal secured a competitive debut victory for new Preston manager Alex Neil, taking charge for the first time following Simon Grayson's departure to Sunderland.

It took until the half-hour mark for the first real chance, after a fiery and competitive start to the new season which was typified by Ben Pearson's booking for a two-footed tackle on Jordan Rhodes.

When that chance came it was in the form of a 25-yard free-kick for Preston's Callum Robinson, but his effort drifted wide of the right post.

And Preston threatened again after 39 minutes through their new arrival from Cork, Sean Maguire. The diminutive striker twisted and turned inside the area before firing in a shot that almost caught Keiren Westwood out at his near post.

It was the hosts who continued to threaten after the break. A superb left-wing cross from Greg Cunningham found Robinson eight yards out, but his header was straight at Westwood.

Preston, who finished 11th last season, were piling on the pressure and came close after 58 minutes when Maguire led a counter-attack before teeing up Robinson, who curled inches wide of the far post from the left edge of the area.

The Owls were all at sea defensively and almost put the ball into their own net after 64 minutes, as Sam Hutchinson's tackle rolled just wide of Westwood's far post.

But Wednesday, who have fallen at the play-off final and semi-final stage in the last two seasons, had their first chance after 67 minutes when Chris Maxwell rushed from his goal but was beaten to the ball by Fernando Forestieri, whose header went harmlessly wide.

And two minutes later the visitors went close again as substitute David Jones whistled one over from 20 yards.

But four minutes the game turned in Preston's favour as first Tommy Spurr's header hit the bar after 76 minutes, before Robinson's 18-yard strike was inches over a minute later.

Hugill then surged into the area after 78 minutes and was upended by Lees, with referee Tony Harrington pointing immediately to the spot.

Johnson stepped up and sent Westwood the wrong way to secure all three points.

PA Media

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