REPORT: Owls 2-1 Preston
Fernando Forestieri turned hero to villain as Wednesday edged out Preston 2-1 in a dramatic Championship clash at Hillsborough.
The Italian scored a first half goal to give the Owls the platform for victory before being sent off after the break.
Steven Fletcher then made it 2-0 but the Lilywhites reduced the arrears near the end through Eoin Doyle.
Then, incredibly, Preston had two players sent off themselves for fighting – Jermaine Beckford and Doyle both receiving their marching orders.
Earlier, the in-form Forestieri made his intentions clear from the off, testing Chris Maxwell as early as the second minute after darting in on goal.
Then on eight minutes, the Italian had a shot cleared off the line by Tom Clarke – but the visitors could not keep Forestieri at bay.
Moments after being denied, Forestieri struck, heading in an Adam Reach mishit following a teasing Kieran Lee cross.
It was a great start for the Owls, but they were immediately fired a warning shot by Callum Robinson, who smashed a long ranger against the post.
The game fell into a lull for the remainder of the opening 45, with the main talking point a twin injury blow for Wednesday as Ross Wallace and Glenn Loovens both succumbed – Will Buckley and David Jones came on.
But it could have been two for the Owls in stoppage time when Buckley almost capitalised on a sublime Forestieri feed but guided his header just wide.
A lively start to the second half saw strikes at either end ruled out – substitute Beckford for Preston and Buckley for the hosts.
Mirroring the first half, the action petered out – until the Owls were reduced to ten men on 65 minutes when Forestieri saw red for an off the ball incident with Ben Pearson.
But the dismissal seemed only to galvanise Wednesday, who upped the ante and doubled their lead.
With 12 minutes to go, the advancing Buckley was upended by Maxwell, the referee pointed to the spot, and substitute Fletcher stepped up to do the necessaries from 12 yards.
Still the drama wasn’t over, though, as the Owls – down to nine men with Buckley injured from the penalty incident – conceded on 82 minutes.
Doyle found himself in space at the back post and took a Robinson delivery into his stride before smashing past Keiren Westwood.
Then the visitors pressed the self-destruct button as Beckford and Doyle had to be separated by team mates – the result of which was two red cards and the chance for Preston to salvage something from the game all but lost.
Wednesday: Westwood, Hunt, Loovens (Jones 35), Lees, Reach, Hutchinson, Wallace (Buckley 27), Lee, Bannan, Forestieri, Joao (Fletcher 74)