The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Ricky Charlesworth

OWLS boss Car­los Car­val­hal hailed the mad­ness of the Cham­pi­onship af­ter Sheffield Wed­nes­day rode their luck to seal vic­tory over Pre­ston.

They looked com­fort­able at 2-0, through goals by Kieran Lee and Daniel Pudil be­fore Alan Browne's strike put the visi­tors back in it.

De­spite some pres­sure from Si­mon Grayson’s side, Wed­nes­day sealed the win late on af­ter Lewis McGu­gan scored a long-range lob.

“This is the Cham­pi­onship and it was a typ­i­cal Cham­pi­onship game,” said a re­lieved Car­val­hal.

“The fact is, 2-1 is a dan­ger­ous score and all the time teams in this league be­lieve they can score.

“It was im­por­tant that we won af­ter the se­quence of games we have had lately.

“Our sub­sti­tutes con­trib­uted a lot to the goal and it was a fan­tas­tic goal from Lewis. There was an amaz­ing at­ti­tude through­out from the play­ers.

“It’s bet­ter that we win and we now have an in­ter­na­tional break that I think will be good.

“We now have time to train ex­tra and try to im­prove. This break will be very good for us.”

In truth, the first half was a non­event with chances few and far be­tween.

In one of the rare for­ays for­ward by ei­ther side, Wed­nes­day’s Lee and At­dhe Nuhiu linked up bril­liantly be­fore the for­mer failed to get a shot away af­ter a clever re­turn pass in the box from Nuhiu.

De­spite a wretched 45 min­utes, Wed­nes­day then opened the scor­ing when Lee slot­ted home in the first of three added min­utes.

Lee ran into the path of a bril­liant back heel from Fer­nando Forestieri on the edge of the area, be­fore coolly stroking past Jor­dan Pick­ford.

Wed­nes­day threat­ened to build on that strike when Lee saw another header go just wide, less than two min­utes into the sec­ond half.

Soon af­ter, Barry Bannan un­leashed a rocket that Pick­ford did well to keep out be­fore Forestieri’s fol­low-up was turned be­hind for a cor­ner.

Mo­ments later and it was 2-0 af­ter per­sis­tence down the left from Pudil.

The Wat­ford loa­nee bombed for­ward and prof­ited from some ques­tion­able Pre­ston de­fend­ing be­fore prod­ding the ball into the net from an acute an­gle in front of the Hills­bor­ough Kop.

The sec­ond goal seemed to calm any lin­ger­ing nerves for the home faith­ful, with Pre­ston strug­gling to im­pose them­selves on the con­test.

How­ever, the visi­tors then surged into life with a quar­ter of an hour to go. Wed­nes­day failed to clear their lines from a cor­ner and Browne bun­dled home from just a few yards out.

John Welsh then saw his piledriver kept out by Keiren West­wood be­fore Adam Reach was de­nied by the Ire­land in­ter­na­tional.

Eoin Doyle then hit a rasp­ing ef­fort over the bar be­fore the hosts' McGu­gan flashed a free-kick into the side net­ting. How­ever, Wed­nes­day then sealed the points in em­phatic style with a scorch­ing ef­fort from McGu­gan right at the death.

Pick­ford had gone for­ward for a cor­ner but was caught out when sub McGu­gan lobbed him half­way in­side the North End half to fi­nally kill off the visi­tors’ re­sis­tance.

North End boss Grayson said: “I thought in the first half we were com­fort­able.

“But, we were the ar­chi­tects of our down­fall with all three goals.

“I’ve never known Hills­bor­ough as quiet.

“Our goal­keeper has not had a save to make in that first half and we were very com­fort­able.

“We then had a moun­tain to climb.

“We should have got some­thing and we had Wed­nes­day on the back foot .

“At this level, if you make mis­takes, then you get pun­ished - at any level – and that’s how it proved un­for­tu­nately.

“I ex­pected Ste­vie May and Will Keane to give us a bit more. But the subs we made came on and af­fected the game.”

PIC­TURE: Cam­era Sport

BUN­DLE: Sheffield Wed­nes­day's Daniel Pudil cel­e­brates scor­ing his team's sec­ond goal. Inset: He pokes the ball into the net

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