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19:03 31st December 2011

Early Batth aids Owls win

Sheffield Wednesday saw 2011 out in style with a comfortable 2-0 won over Preston at Deepdale.

Danny Batth and Ben Marshall struck for the Owls in the first half to seal a vital three points that ensure Gary Megson's men enter the New Year well placed in the League 1 promotion shake-up.

Megson shuffled his pack for the cross-Pennines clash, handing Nicky Weaver and Jon Otsemobor starting shirts and the latter was influential in the Owls' opener just five minutes in.

Otsemobor - kicking off a league game for the first time this season - played a part in earning Wednesday a corner, from which Batth nodded down and in following a terrific delivery from Chris Lines.

The goal was Batth's maiden strike for the Owls and came in timely fashion with the towering centre half having extended his loan deal from Premiership side Wolves until the end of the current campaign.

Preston, though, were undaunted by their early setback and pushed on, no doubt boosted by the fact that they twice came from behind against Carlisle on Boxing Day to salvage a point.

But it could have got worse for the hosts on ten minutes had the alert Thorsten Stuckmann not raced off his line to deal with the danger after Jose Semedo sent Ryan Lowe scampering in on goal.

At the other end, Preston had a claim for handball waved away midway through the opening period when James Proctor looked to thread past Miguel Llera but by and large, Weaver's goal remained untroubled.

And that situation was hardly aided by the departure of the Lilywhites' main threat in the final third, Iain Hume, who pulled up on the half hour mark with a leg injury and was replaced by Juvnel Tsoumou.

The pointers were against Preston and so it proved two minutes before the break when Marshall doubled the Owls' advantage.

The on-loan winger picked up possession deep down the left channel and just as almost the whole of Deepdale anticipated a cross into the box, Marshall conjured a dipping, curled effort that flew into the top corner to send Wednesday down the tunnel squarely in the box seat.

The feeling was that one more goal from the visitors would all but put the points out of reach but by the same token, a reply from Preston would have opened the contest right back up.

And the all-important first chance of the second half fell to the Lancashire side, who alas failed to take it.

Neat approach play saw the ball fall kindly to Jamie McCombe a yard inside the penalty area but the big defender's shot flew high and wide.

Wednesday responded in kind and with the same outcome, carving an excellent opportunity but Lines' finish lacked pace and Stuckmann smothered comfortably.

The Owls saw another chance go begging moments later when James Tavernier advanced menacingly on goal but could only drag past Stuckmann's near post.

Wednesday then had a penalty claim of their own turned down after McCombe deflected an Otsemobor cross before Llera came to the Owls' rescue with a crucial goal line clearance to prevent Paul Parry halving the arrears with ten minutes to go.

It could be argued that the Owls were due some fortune following recent last-gasp lapses against Huddersfield and Walsall and there were no late jitters, sending Megson's men into the home game with Tranmere on New Year's Day on the back of a welcome travelling triumph.

Preston: Stuckmann, Gray, Morgan, Hume (Tsoumou 31), Coutts, Proctor (Douglas 57), Smith, Barton, Mayor, Parry, McCombe

Unused substitutes: Turner, McLaughlin, Carlisle

Owls: 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

    Data provided by Press Association


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.