Wednesday staged a second-half fightback to earn a point in a 3-3 draw at Preston that ended our faint play-off hopes.
The eventful game also heralded Kieran Lee’s first competitive action for 16 months as a late second-half substitute and saw us finish with 10 men after Dominic Iorfa was red carded.
It had all looked so different in the first half with a lethargic-looking Wednesday trailing 2-0 at the interval, Jayden Stockley heading the home side in front on nine minutes and then Tom Lees inadvertently heading into his own net 10 minutes before the break after the ball had flicked up off Michael Hector’s foot.
Whatever Steve Bruce said to the team at half time, it had the desired effect as we looked a different side from the restart, Barry Bannan putting us back in the game on 49 minutes when he lashed the ball home from just inside the box.
We continued to press for an equaliser but, totally against the run of play, were caught out at the back as Alan Browne was left with time and space and fired past Cameron Dawson to restore their two-goal advantage just past the hour-mark.
Undeterred, Wednesday continued to have the upper hand and we were back in the game on 76 minutes when Atdhe Nuhiu set up Fernando Forestieri to head home.
Then, within two minutes, it was Nuhiu the goalscorer as he nodded in the equaliser from Bannan’s cross.
Minutes later, we were reduced to 10 men when Iorfa received a straight red for a reckless challenge on Darnell Fisher.
Once again, we bounced back from this latest setback and, while Preston threatened on a couple of occasions, we looked the more likely to get a winner with Lucas Joao seeing his effort from the returning Lee’s cross cleared off the line and then Liam Palmer firing over the top from close range.
The point leaves us in ninth place on 64 points and, with just one game left and Derby filling the final play-off spot on 70 points, we have come up just short after a tremendous second-half of the season under Steve Bruce.
Dawson, Iorfa, Lees, Hector, Palmer, Matias, Pelupessy, Bannan, Onomah (Nuhiu 67), Forestieri (Lee 84), Fletcher (Joao 77).