It was a familiar story at Deepdale today as Wednesday failed to come to life until we were two goals down and slumped to a 2-1 defeat.
We didn’t have a shot on target in the first half, toiling in the sunshine in the face of Preston’s pressing game, and it was no surprise when they took the lead on 32 minutes. Moses Odubajo was adjudged to have fouled Sean Maguire when the pair tangled for a loose ball in the box and Daniel Johnson squeezed home the spot kick, despite Keiren Westwood almost keeping it out.
It was a similar story after the break, with Wednesday failing to cause any major problems for Preston and the home side doubled their lead on 65 minutes. In a repeat of the first half incident, Odubajo brought down Maguire inside the box with a mistimed tackle and Johnson sent Westwood the wrong way with his second penalty.
The 2-0 deficit sparked two quick substitutions, with Adam Reach and Atdhe Nuhiu coming on, and Reach was the architect of our goal, crossing perfectly for Fletcher to head home in style in front of the 5000-plus travelling Wednesdayites on 78 minutes.
That set the scene for a typical late Wednesday rally, leaving the travelling fans wondering why we hadn’t played with the same determination and cohesion in the previous 80 minutes.
Nuhiu bulldozed his way through only to be blocked at the death and third sub Fernando Forestieri tested Declan Rudd in the home goal.
Julian Bonner saw a header deflected for a corner and Forestieri almost set up Fletcher from close range but, as has happened in the past, it was all too little, too late against an organised but far from spectacular Preston outfit.
This second successive away defeat takes us down to seventh spot but level with fifth-placed Fulham on nine points.
Westwood, Odubajo (Reach 66), Lees, Borner, Fox, Harris, Hutchinson, Lee (Nuhiu 73), Bannan, Murphy (Forestieri 46), Fletcher.