Canaries hang on for a point despite being dominated by Preston during sloppy display
PUBLISHED: 17:03 21 April 2018 | UPDATED: 18:46 21 April 2018
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Norwich City did enough to hang on for a point at play-off chasing Preston despite one of the sloppiest performances of their frustrating Championship season.
The hosts had struck the bar in the first half and Norwich needed a goal-saving block from Jamal Lewis in the second half as Preston dominated proceedings, but held on for the point.
With Ipswich losing 4-0 at home to Aston Villa the draw at least moved the Canaries above their arch rivals to 13th in the table, as their season continues to drift to a close.
City boss Daniel Farke stuck with the line-up which started the previous weekend’s 2-0 home defeat to Cardiff, with Onel Hernandez fit enough to be on the bench.
It was a lackadaisical effort from the Canaries in the first half though, with Angus Gunn having to punch away dangerous crosses on three occasions but both sides offering up poor attempted shots.
The closest North End came was in the 27th minute after Paul Gallagher had regained possession from James Maddison and Alan Browne released Billy Bodin through the middle, only to be bundled over by Grant Hanley on the edge of the box. The Scot was booked and Gallagher rattled Gunn’s crossbar with a fine free-kick as the visitors were let off the hook.
Otherwise it was a half featuring very little in the way of quality and a City side struggling to string passes together as the scorers remained untroubled at the break.
Former Canaries boss Alex Neil wasn’t happy with his team’s performance and made all three of his substitutions during the opening 10 minutes of the second half and two of them, Josh Harrop and Sean Maguire combined for a big chance on the hour mark.
Somehow Reed managed to lose possession when recycling a corner and Harrop broke through on goal with Maguire in support, exchanging a one-two only for Lewis to lunge in with a goal-saving block as Harrop pulled the trigger inside the City box.
Maddison whipped a dreadful free-kick over in the 73rd minute as the Canaries continued to look a frustrated team, with Farke opting to make his first change and bring Srbeny’s dreadful day to an end.
The Deepdale faithful were on the feet in the 76th minute, expecting the Norwich net to bulge, only for Bodin to somehow curl his left-footed rasper just beyond the far post after the ball broke to him in the box.
Less than two minutes later Maguire tamely headed over a golden opportunity, after a fine cross from the left from Callum Robinson beat City’s defenders.
Hernandez was thrown on by Farke just before that chance and the Cuban had a fine chance to score after good play from Mario Vrancic and Oliveira played him in to the box, only to take too many touches rather than test Preston’s former City keeper Declan Rudd.
There was a bout of pushing and shoving after Timm Klose brought Alan Browne on the edge of the box in the 88th minute, earning a booking, with Maddison and Greg Cunningham also in the book for the aftermath, but Harrop curled a poor free-kick against City’s wall.
Josh Murphy made a vital block at the back post for the Canaries from North End skipper Tom Clarke in the second minute of added time and Klose also fired wide in the closing stages after Maddison lumped a free-kick into the box desperately.
Robinson tamely headed at goal for Preston in the final seconds as a drab game came to an end in a draw that was useful to neither side.
The Canaries return to action next Saturday with their final Carrow Road game of the campaign, against fellow mid-table side Leeds.
Norwich: Gunn; Reed, Hanley, Klose, Lewis; Tettey (C), Leitner (Hernandez 77); Vrancic, Maddison, Murphy (Pinto 90+2); Srbeny (Oliveira 73). Unused subs: McGovern (GK), Raggett, Husband, Hoolahan
Booked: Hanley (foul on Bodin, 27), Lewis (foul on Fisher, 61), Klose (on Browne, 88), Maddison (dissent, 88)
Preston: Rudd; Fisher, Clarke (C), Huntington (Davies 46), Cunningham; Pearson; Bodin, Gallagher (Harrop 53), Browne, Barkhuizen (Maguire 53); Robinson. Unused subs: Maxwell (GK), Earl, Johnson, Moult
Booked: Clarke (foul on Murphy, 73), Fisher (foul on Oliveira, 87), Cunningham (dissent, 88)
Referee: Geoff Eltringham
Attendance: 13,038 (697 away fans)