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Wednesday hit back at Preston but late play-off push is over

Sheffield Wednesday battled back from two goals down in a 3-3 thriller against Preston at Deepdale, a result which ended the Owls’ feint hopes of sneaking into the play-offs.

Steve Bruce’s side looked dead and buried at 3-1 behind late on, but two quick goals at least rescued a share of the spoils.

Preston opened brightest in their final home game of a largely encouraging campaign overall.

Callum Robinson ran into space just outside the Wednesday box before smashing in a shot which Cameron Dawson gathered well.

The Owls responded almost immediately with Barry Bannan lashing in an effort from 35 yards out which Preston’s debutant keeper Connor Ripley dived down to save competently.

North End struck the opener after nine minutes.

Robinson’s cross from the left flank was flicked on by Alan Browne, perfectly into the path of Jayden Stockley, who headed home his first goal at Deepdale from five yards.

As the hosts tried to build on their increasing momentum, Ben Davies then headed inches over the top with Dawson well beaten.

Next to go close was Robinson, whose low drive from just inside the box stung the palms of an alert Dawson.

On the half-hour mark, Preston skipper Paul Gallagher fired in a free-kick from the cutest of angles, one which again tested an increasingly impressive Dawson.

Wednesday fluffed a terrific chance soon after as Steven Fletcher smashed an effort straight at Ripley after latching on to a measured through-ball from Bannan.

The Owls were punished when North End struck a second minutes later.

Wednesday skipper Tom Lees could only head disastrously into his own net after Joe Rafferty’s cross had taken a deflection.

The Owls halved the deficit four minutes after the restart.

It was Bannan who struck, lashing high into the net from 15 yards following a neat back-heel from Marco Matias.

The noisy travelling army from Sheffield found their voices again, and they were soon almost celebrating again when defender Liam Palmer went on a lung-busting run before hitting a deflected shot narrowly over the top.

Josh Onomah then saw an attempt blocked as the Owls pressed for an equaliser.

It did not materialise, and North End went 3-1 up in the 61st minute.

Sean Maguire played in Browne, and the midfielder darted through the middle before tucking past Dawson from 18 yards.

The late drama began when the Owls struck twice in three minutes either side of the 75-minute mark.

Fernando Forestieri headed in Matias’s cross firstly, then the visitors incredibly made it 3-3 when sub Atdhe Nuhiu dived in to head home Bannan’s cross from the opposite flank.

The visitors were then reduced to 10 when Dominic Iorfa clattered into Darnell Fisher, but they then almost nicked a victory when sub Lucas Joao was denied by Davies’ goal-line clearance.