Ryan Lowe felt his Preston side edged the contest during their high-stakes clash with Norwich City and shared mixed emotions after watching their play-off dreams all but end. 

Gabriel Sara's late strike settled a game of limited opportunities, with North End recording just 30pc of possession and only recording one shot on target during the 90 minutes in Lancashire. 

Jack Whatmough's header rebounded off the bar in first-half stoppage time, and their set pieces played havoc with City's backline, but they were unable to find the breakthrough in a largely cagey contest. 

The defeat leaves Preston eight points behind Norwich, with the Canaries only having three matches to play in their Championship campaign. North End have a game in hand, but will need to maintain a perfect record and hope David Wagner's side collapse. 

Lowe, while disappointed with the result, expressed pride at his team's efforts this season and all but conceded their prospects of a play-off tilt. 

"Mixed emotions, really,” said Lowe. “Disappointed with the result; pleased and proud of the boys, for everything they have given all season.

"We have fallen a little bit short. It hasn’t been for the lack of trying, effort, desire or commitment - everything I like was definitely there. It is that final bit, in both boxes, isn’t it? But, as I say, I am always proud of the boys.

"I thought we were the better team really, if I am being honest - especially first half, we had some good moments. In the second half, they had the ball a bit more; we were ready to pounce and go.

The Pink Un: Norwich City were 1-0 victors over Preston at Deepdale.Norwich City were 1-0 victors over Preston at Deepdale. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

"Set plays caused them a bit of trouble, we just didn’t capitalise on it. And then we tried to get as many attacking players on the pitch as we could, because even a draw would’ve been no good. It was our aim to win.

"There was a little bit of a mix-up with the goal - two players going for one ball, then he has a bit of luck and Fred actually gets a hand to it. Jordan couldn’t sort his feet out to maybe clear it, so it was a scruffy goal - a bad goal to concede on our behalf.

"Moments like that sometimes go against you and that’s what has happened today. They have given it everything, They are a good team, but I thought the game plan worked a treat."