Liam Palmer’s first Sheffield Wednesday league goal since September 2011 gave the Owls a priceless victory over away-day specialists Preston North End at Hillsborough.
It meant that caretaker boss Neil Thompson has now racked up three wins out of his four league games in charge, strengthening his chances of getting the gig on a permanent basis.
After a cagey opening 10 minutes, the first chance fell to Wednesday through Callum Paterson, who created some space for himself in the North End area, only to fire high and wide from about 15 yards out.
Another good chance fell to the Owls a few minutes later, with Barry Bannan feeding Liam Palmer down the right side of the pitch.
The right-back put a ball across the six-yard box, but no Wednesday player could get on the end of it as it bobbled away.
North End grew into the game after a shaky start, with Ben Whiteman and Scott Sinclair both having decent chances midway through the first half without really testing Keiren Westwood.
The Lilywhites got a lot of space down the right-hand side of the pitch, with Jayson Molumby creating plenty of opportunities. However, other North End attackers couldn’t capitalise on his directness.
And they ended up regretting those missed opportunity, as on the stroke of half time a Paterson long throw caused all sorts of issues, and Liam Palmer fired in from close range for his first Wednesday league goal in over nine years.
The first part of the second half was a bit of a non-event, but moments after Brad Potts tested Westwood from outside the area, Whiteman blazed over for North End from close range after more great work by Molumby in the Wednesday area.
But then Wednesday put the pressure on once again, with Palmer almost adding to his goal after firing across Daniel Iversen’s goal-mouth. Barry Bannan then forced the Dane to tip his long-range effort over the bar.
Preston brought on Daniel Johnson and Tom Barkhuizen as they chased the game, with fellow attacker Sinclair heading over an Alan Browne cross with 15 minutes to go.
Neil threw his men forward in search of an equaliser in the final minutes, despite not having an out-and-out striker on the pitch.
However, it was to no avail as the Owls ran out winners and moved closer to climbing out of the relegation zone, with Rotherham and Nottingham Forest both dropping points.