Preston North End 3 Sheffield Wednesday 3: Bruce delivers verdict on ‘awful’ Owls

Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce was left fuming at his side’s first-half showing at Deepdale as the Owls claimed an unlikely point against Preston in a 3-3 thriller.
Owls Manager Steve Bruce......Pic Steve EllisOwls Manager Steve Bruce......Pic Steve Ellis
Owls Manager Steve Bruce......Pic Steve Ellis

Jayden Stockley headed in for Preston and Owls’ defender Tom Lees turned the ball into his own net to give the home side a 2-0 lead at half-time.

Bruce described his side’s first half showing as “awful” but hailed Wednesday’s guts and determination as they dug deep from two goals down to claim a point.

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Wednesday pulled one back when Barry Bannan fired home, before Alan Browne restored Preston’s two-goal lead with a fine finish.

Fernando Forestieri headed in to give Wednesday hope, before Atdhe Nuhiu himself got on the end of Bannan’s delivery to head past Connor Ripley.

Bruce said: “We were just awful in the first half, but in the second we were a different team altogether.

“We started to play to our strengths more, and to be honest I think we could have gone on and won it.

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“We had chances, one cleared off the line - I really enjoyed the second half.

“Of course, it didn’t look ideal when we were 3-1 down, but credit to the lads for the way they’ve battled back into it.

“It was a great advert for Championship football. There were two teams of genuine, honest players out there.

“I think we’ve lost two in 19 games, and in anyone’s book I think that’s quite a turnaround.

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“At the end of the season we’ll probably end up three or four points short (of the play-offs), and that’s a terrific effort considering where we were.

“It was always about getting ourselves back into contention, and I think we did that. I’ve been really pleased with everyone’s efforts since I came in here.”

Bruce is now starting to shift his attentions to the work ahead of him this summer.

“At this moment it’s looking like there are going to be some big decisions for me to make in the summer, but we’ll look at what we’ve got in the squad once the season is over,” he said.

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“There will be changes, that’s clear, but there is lots for me to be positive about after a performance like that.”

The visitors were also reduced to 10 men late on when Dominic Iorfa clattered into Darnell Fisher, but they still almost nicked a victory when sub Lucas Joao was denied by a goal-line clearance.

For Preston manager Alex Neil it was two points dropped after the late drama as he admitted he felt frustrated at throwing away a two-goal lead.

He said: “That was a tough result for us. I thought we were the better side overall.

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“We were really good in the first half, but then I could hear Steve Bruce in the next dressing room at half-time, so I figured there would be a reaction from them.

“It was an exciting game. Both teams were really going for it.

“We created some really good chances, particularly in the first half, and if we’d have been a little more clinical we could have put the game firmly to bed before they came back towards the end.

The Championship is a really tough league, and it’s going to be tough for us to improve if I’m honest.

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“This season has been a really strong learning curve, for everyone.

“We need to keep giving it everything we’ve got if we are going to finish higher in the table next season, but I do believe we’ve got the makings of a really good squad.”