DAN SHOCKS THE ‘BRAINLESS’ OWLS

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Scott Hunt

NEW Pre­ston man­ager Alex Neil thought his side were fully de­serv­ing of their vic­tory over Sh­effield Wed­nes­day, claim­ing they were “bet­ter in ev­ery as­pect.”

Daniel John­son se­cured Pre­ston’s first open­ing-day win since 2008 with a 79th-minute penalty in Neil’s first com­pet­i­tive game in charge fol­low­ing Si­mon Grayson’s de­par­ture for Sun­der­land.

It was the first time in the last four sea­sons that Sh­effield Wed­nes­day have failed to win their open­ing game and Neil said: “We were bet­ter in al­most ev­ery as­pect. We out­played them and out­fought them and we de­served to win the game.

“We can ba­si­cally go and over­run teams be­cause we have legs all over the pitch. Our en­ergy, en­thu­si­asm and qual­ity at times was ex­cel­lent.

“If they con­tinue to play like that we’ll be fine. 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.

“No­to­ri­ously in the last two sea­sons we’ve not started well so it’s pleas­ing to get three points on the board.”

The first chance came af­ter hal­fan-hour in the form of a 25-yard free-kick for Pre­ston’s Cal­lum Robin­son, but his ef­fort drifted a cou­ple of feet wide of the right-hand post.

Pre­ston threat­ened again af­ter 39 min­utes through Sean Maguire, the new ar­rival from Cork . 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 lead a counter at­tack be­fore tee­ing up Robin­son, who curled a shot inches wide of the far post from the left edge of the area.

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 was harm­lessly wide.

But four min­utes changed the game in Pre­ston’s favour. First Tommy Spurr’s header hit the bar af­ter 76 min­utes, then Robin­son’s 18-yard strike was inches over the bar a minute later.

Jor­dan Hugill then surged into the area af­ter 78 min­utes and was up­ended by Alex Lees, with ref­eree Tony Har­ring­ton point­ing im­me­di­ately to the spot. John­son stepped up and sent West­wood the wrong way to se­cure all three points.

Sh­effield Wed­nes­day man­ager Car­los Car­val­hal agreed his side were sec­ond best.

“We de­served to lose the game,” he said. “We were out of every­thing. We ran too much in the first half but with no brain.

“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.

“It is not a ques­tion of at­ti­tude. It was a col­lec­tive prob­lem, not an in­di­vid­ual prob­lem. We just didn’t play our foot­ball. We must do it com­pletely dif­fer­ent in the next game.

“We were out of the pres­sure, the po­si­tions to man­age the ball and it was a bad game. I hope it’s be­cause it is the first one.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

SPOT ON: Daniel John­son scores from 12 yards, be­low, and cel­e­brates Pre­ston’s first open­ing-day win in nine years

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