Norwich City’s away form may have been disappointing for much of this season, but last Saturday was the perfect time to produce the classic away performance.

It was always going to be a tough game, not just because Preston have been in excellent form, but also because they were likely to pose a significant physical threat to a City defence that had conceded twice from set-pieces at Hillsborough.

Although the hosts produced virtually nothing from open play, their aerial threat was obvious from the early stages against a defence that looked to be bearing the mental scars of the late goals scored by Sheffield Wednesday, not least Angus Gunn, who looked uncharacteristically shaky, and was indebted to goal-line clearances from Kenny McLean and Sam McCallum.

However, City stuck to their task, but more importantly, were positive in everything that they did, both in attack and in defence, with none of the sitting back and allowing the opposition to push on that we have seen too often on their travels this season.

It perhaps helped that the winner came in the closing minutes, but it was an outstanding performance and all credit to David Wagner for getting his tactics spot on.

Gabriel Sara inevitably, and deservedly, got most of the headlines, but McLean produced the epitome of a captain’s performance both in terms of snuffing out Preston’s attacks and launching City’s, and it was fitting that it was his pass that released the Brazilian for the only goal.

I don’t want to tempt fate, but City really do seem to be peaking at the right time, and the return of Jonny Rowe, who played a big part in their late domination at Deepdale, is a huge bonus for the run-in and, hopefully, the play offs.

City’s form means that he can be eased back into a starting role, particularly given how effective the midfield set-up has been in recent games, with Marcelino Nunez looking more and more assured in the deep-lying playmaker role, and Sara clearly enjoying the greater room available when he plays on the right  with the freedom to drift as opposed to filling the number 10 position.

Nunez had a relatively slow start at City but has now made himself a key component of Wagner’s system, not just in terms of launching attacks, but also using his positional sense to screen the defence.

City’s win was even more important, coming as it did amidst a weekend of unexpected results, with only Ipswich of the top three garnering a single point, Coventry, perhaps with one eye on their FA Cup semi-final this weekend, going down heavily at Birmingham and West Brom losing at home to Sunderland, opening up the prospect of a tight race for fifth place.

It's always the case that with the finishing line in sight strange things start to happen, and that makes it all the more important that City continue their excellent home form this afternoon, because their fate is now very much in their own hands.

Last week’s win effectively ended Preston’s play off challenge, leaving Coventry and Hull as City’s only real challengers, but with them having to play each other, and both having to play Ipswich, the Canaries really will be in a great position if they can pick up another three points today.

I’m sure that Wagner and his players will have appreciated a full week between games after a run of five games in 16 days, and will be ready to go, but it’s also vital that the crowd generates the sort of energy that filled Carrow Road during the derby.

It's been a season where relations between fans, manager and players have been strained to the limit at times, but with three games to go and City in an excellent position those frustrations have been put aside, and Carrow Road should be rocking again today!