Preston North End 0-2 Wednesday
31/12/11 - 1pm
Wednesday brought 2011 to a close with a convincing 2-0 victory across the Pennines at Preston North End on New Year's Eve.
Goals from loan pair Danny Batth and Ben Marshall ensured three points returned to Hillsborough as the Owls bounced back from their disappointing defeat at Walsall on Boxing Day.
That loss had seen Gary Megson's men drop out of the npower League One top two but victory at Deepdale, against a Preston side with David Unsworth and Gary Alexander in caretaker control, leaves Wednesday well positioned at the turn of the year.
Megson made a number of changes to that side that lost at the Bescot Stadium with Nicky Weaver fit enough to return to action in goal, to replace Richard O'Donnell. Skipper Rob Jones was sidelined with a back injury, leaving Miguel Llera to replace him in defence, while Jon Otsemobor also made a rare start.
The visitors, backed by almost 5,000 travelling supporters, came flying out of the traps and were rewarded just five minutes in through Batth's opener - his first goal for the Owls.
Chris Lines produced a brilliant corner kick and the on-loan Wolves man smashed his header into the back of the net to give Wednesday an early lead.
North End were unbeaten since Phil Brown had been dismissed as manager but it was all Wednesday in the opening stages.
Wednesday had the momentum and they could have doubled their lead when Ryan Lowe was sent racing through on goal only for home goalkeeper Thorsten Stuckmann to come racing out to clear the danger.
Nicky Weaver couldn't have really wished for a more comfortable return to first team action, with Preston failing to carve out any clear-cut chances in front of goal.
The hosts did have a shout for a penalty for handball by Llera but the referee waved away the protests.
Wednesday were cruising and the only thing lacking was another goal to show for their efforts. It came two minutes before the half-time break to leave Megson's men fully in control of the contest.
It came from the Owls' player-of-the-season so far in Marshall. The on-loan Stoke winger powered towards goal and unleashed an unstoppable long-range effort into the back of the net.
Half-Time: PNE 0-2 Wednesday
North End needed to up their gear in the second half and grab the next goal if they were to get anything from the game.
They made a bright start and created the first chance just minutes after the restart when boyhood Wednesdayite Jamie McCombe fired a shot high and wide - a strike somewhat typical of his defensive position.
Wednesday responded and Lines struck a shot straight at Stuckmann before James Tavernier got away on the right and shot beyond Stuckmann but wide of the target.
Megson introduced Arsenal loanee Sanchez Watt in place of Lowe on the hour mark but chances were at a premium at both ends - something that will have suited the visitors.
It could have been a tricky final ten minutes for Wednesday, as they'd encountered in their previous two matches, had Llera not been well positioned to clear a Paul Parry effort off the line.
But Weaver remained unbeaten in his first match back from injury as Wednesday went into 2012 on the back of a big win at Deepdale.
Full-Time: PNE 0-2 Wednesday
Preston: Stuckmann, Gray, Morgan, Hume (Tsoumou 31), Coutts, Proctor (Douglas 57), Smith, Barton, Mayor, Parry, McCombe. Unused substitutes: Turner, McLaughlin, Carlisle.
Wednesday: Weaver, Otsemobor, Batth, Llera, R Johnson, Tavernier (Palmer 81), Marshall (Prutton 86), Semedo, Lines, O'Grady, Lowe (Watt 61). Unused substitutes: O'Donnell, D Jones.
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