Wednesday defeated in Pulis’ first game in charge
Sheffield Wednesday lost their first game under new manager Tony Pulis on Saturday, slipping to a 1-0 loss at Preston North End.
The new boss recalled goalkeeper Keiren Westwood for his first appearance in 12 months, Massimo Luongo also returned following an injury lay off. Tom Lees partnered Julian Borner in the centre of defence with Joost Van Aken at left-back and Liam Palmer at right-back. Moses Odubajo and Adam Reach were given wide midfield roles.
The visitors started the game well enough and created the best chance of the early exchanges with Reach firing a volley over the bar at the far post from a Bannan corner.
All the preparation that had gone into working on what Pulis wanted to deliver in his first game went out the window inside 20 minutes when Josh Windass was sent off. The forward received a red card for a high challenge Rafferty. Having gifted the opposition a man advantage it was going to be an uphill task for the visitors for the remainder of the game but they applied themselves well in the first half and managed to reach the interval without being overly troubled.
Preston started the second half with more intent and within 5 minutes they had the lead. Westwood opted to punch clear a cross but could only reach the edge of the penalty area and the ball fell to Barkhuizen who returned it with interest, volleying into the bottom corner of the goal to give the home side the lead.
Although they were on top, the hosts couldn’t create much to threaten a second goal to kill the game off and Wednesday almost made them pay when Odubajo dragged a shot wide with his less favoured left-foot. Borner did well to deny Preston a second goal at the death but it was ultimately in vain as the Owls slipped to their 6th defeat on 12 league games.
The early dismissal of Windass meant that there wasn’t a great deal to learn from how Pulis plans to take the team forward. Red cards are certainly a cause for concern as Wednesday have already hasd 4 players sent off this season and suspensions on top of an ever growing injury list will cause selection problems with games coming thick and fast in the next few weeks.
Next up for Wednesday is a trip to in form Swansea City on Wednesday evening.