Preston 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday: Daniel Johnson's late penalty wins it late for Preston
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 05/08/17 6:32pm
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.
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.
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.
Alex Neil: "I thought we were better than Sheffield Wednesday in almost every aspect. Our strength is that we have such a good team spirit, they work so hard for each other and we got what we deserved today.
"When you have that amount of pressure, you want what you deserve. We could and maybe should have scored more. That's three points on the board now. Notoriously in the last two seasons we've not started well so it's pleasing to get three points on the board."
Carlos Carvalhal: "We deserved to lose the game. We were out of everything. We ran too much in the first half but with no brain. We ran with emotion, we ran a lot but not in good ways.
"We don't win too many second balls, Preston won all the second balls. We had one or two chances, Preston had more than us so congratulations to Preston. No excuses about us, we must do much better to win games in the Championship and we must analyse this game to do better in the future."