FULL TIME: SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 2 PRESTON NORTH END 0

Owls' Nile Ranger is fouled.
Owls' Nile Ranger is fouled.

TWO second half goals by Gary Madine broke stubborn resistance from Preston and pit the Owls back into second place in League One at least ahead of the afternoon kick-offs..

The lunchtime affair at Hillsborough brought some unexciting stuff for the Sky television audience with Preston North End looking niggly and negative and doing all they could to frustrate the Owls.

Madine struck with a fine shot and a powerful header in the space of 15 minutes and took his season’s total to 17 goals.

From the start it was obvious that the Owls faced the task of breaking down the opposition who played with only one up front, Brown and had their captain, Proctor, as a defensive midfield man in front of the back four.

Predictably, Wednesday were the more enterprising and fluent side in the early stages and they almost scored an extraordinary goal when Reda Johnson launched a long ball forward from just inside the Preston half and over hit it, so it turned in to a shot.

The keeper scrambled backwards as the ball went over his head but it also dropped over the bar.

It had been one of the worst halves of football in a Wednesday game this season, due in no small measure to Preston’s negative and niggly approach. The Owls needed to find a way to disturb them and they did so when they took the lead in the 49th minute.

Ranger began the move with persistence, just inside the visitors’ half. Lines took over with a forward run down the middle, then slipped a pass to his right, where Madine was just inside the box.

He did not seem ideally placed for a strike at goal but he unleashed a fine right foot shot past the keeper and in to the top left hand corner to break the deadlock.

The visitors, having gone behind, were forced to change their negative approach. They brought on the strikers Hume and Aneke in the 62nd minute for the ineffectual Brown and Cummins.

It was to no avail though as two minutes later, the Owls made it 2-0.

Antonio hurled a trademark long throw from the right and MADINE leapt, six yards out, to power a downward header for his 17th goal of the campaign.

Captain Rob Jones received his tenth booking of the season near the end of the game and will be suspended for the next two league matches, against Huddersfield and Oldham.