Tony Pulis was pleased with his new side’s commitment despite 10-man Sheffield Wednesday falling to a 1-0 defeat at Preston in his first game in charge.
Josh Windass saw red for the visitors in the 17th minute and were ultimately punished when Tom Barkhuizen volleyed home a superb left-footed volley after recalled Wednesday goalkeeper Keiren Westwood failed to clear the ball from danger three minutes into the second half.
This part of Lancashire has not been a happy hunting ground for the Owls in recent times and this defeat made it nine years now without a win at Deepdale, but Pulis still felt there was plenty to be encouraged by from his side.
He said: “I thought the effort and commitment was absolutely fabulous. They only had one shot at goal and that was their goal so you have to give the lads a lot of credit.
“I was pleased with all of them, they gave a very honest performance. We matched them in most areas for the rest of the game.
“There were times when we have got to move the ball better. You cannot make mistakes.
“It’s Kieren’s [Westwood] mistake [for the goal]. He’s big enough and experienced enough to take it.
“I haven’t seen [the red card] back yet. His foot was in high. We are not going to be able to appeal that.
“We don’t need red cards in the situation we are in at the moment. I thought Josh [Windass] could have headed it. He said he was trying to flick it over to [Adam] Reach but he caught the player.”
Wednesday started the contest promisingly but were dealt a huge blow when Windass received a straight red card for a high-foot on Preston full-back Joe Rafferty.
Windass’ dangerous challenge gave Wednesday their fourth red card from 13 league fixtures this season and this immediately gave impetus to the hosts.
Ryan Ledson had the first chance straight after and should have done better when his chipped effort floated over Westwood.
Three minutes into the second half, Westwood, who was starting for the first time in 12 months, failed to deal adequately with a threatening delivery from the left.
This left Barkhuizen to follow up with a superbly-struck left-footed volley past the helpless 36-year-old to give Preston the lead.
The visitors could not respond to falling behind and Alex Neil’s side should have scored more, Daniel Johnson shooting agonisingly wide of the target late on.
It was a first win at Deepdale this season for Preston, who had suffered five successive defeats.
Assistant manager Frankie McAvoy said: “It feels good to win at home.
“It was tough, though, when they went down to 10 men because they went to a back five and the onus was on us to break them down.
“Thankfully we’ve won the game. I thought we controlled it in the second half with the changes Alex [Neil] made both personnel and tactically so we’re delighted.
“I thought right away it was a clear red card as Windass went straight into Rafferty and I wasn’t surprised one bit when he was sent off.
“Tony Pulis’ teams are always well organised but one big decision which was crucial was the Scott Sinclair penalty kick.
“I thought it was a penalty and we didn’t get it so it was a mistake from the referee, we should have been given that.”