Preston North End F.C
Late heartbreak for City as Preston snatch a point
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City could have been forgiven for thinking it was them against the world as they travelled to Deepdale with a squad full of lethargic players who had just returned from international duty.
Their frustration was compounded as Brad Potts' deflected effort squeezed past Tim Krul and into the net as the clock ticked past 94 minutes.
When City took the lead through a wonder strike from creative midfielder Emi Buendia, it seemed to be enough for the Canaries to record their 10th win in 11 Championship matches.
Much to the frustration of City's boss, Preston rejected their call to push this match back by 24-hours. Inside the corridors of power, the decision by the EFL not to intervene was met with bemusement and anger.
Norwich need 13 points to secure their promotion, but given Watford, Swansea and Brentford all still have to play each other, they won't even need that many.
Daniel Farke reaffirmed his commitment to providing the Canaries' young talent with an opportunity. Andrew Omobamidele was the latest name to be handed his senior debut after it was confirmed Christoph Zimmermann would be out for the rest of the season.
The Irish international was confident and composed on a senior debut that belied his young years. The teenager put in an accomplished performance in City's hour of need.
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- 6 Paddy Davitt: Player ratings after Canaries' 3-1 Bournemouth defeat
- 7 'Mission Accomplished' - Norwich City fans celebrate promotion
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- 9 City’s big chance to prove there is ‘one team that stands out’
- 10 Farke savours sweet Premier League promotion after rollercoaster ride
Both full-backs were also missing. Dimitris Giannoulis turned up to Colney in a zombie-like state after travelling back to Norfolk from Greece. Max Aarons wasn't part of the travelling party due to suffering a minor ankle injury whilst away with the England U21s.
Bali Mumba and Xavi Quintilla replaced them. Jacob Sorensen stepped into central midfield with Spurs loanee Ollie Skipp dropping to the bench after featuring prominently for Aidy Boothroyd's Young Lions.
Frankie McAvoy, who oversaw his first game in charge of Preston after the departure of ex-City boss Alex Neil, made three changes to his side, with Andrew Hughes, Tom Barkhuizen and Emil Riis starting as North End shifted to a traditional 4-4-2 shape.
It was a sluggish start for the Canaries as they grappled with a physical Preston side looking to press them at every opportunity.
City's first opening arrived through young Mumba, when Todd Cantwell's deflected effort fell into his path. He latched onto the loose ball but his shot was smothered by Daniel Iverson.
A minute later, Emil Riis was played through on goal despite appearing to be offside as he received the ball. With no flag raised, the Norweigan was one on one, only for Krul to stop his effort with his outstretched left boot.
For all the noise about who wouldn't be available, City knew they still had one of the Championship's finest footballers in Buendia fully fit for this encounter.
It was the Argentine who opened the scoring at Deepdale, side-stepping past a defender before catching Iverson blind to curl the ball into the bottom corner of the net. Buendia's goal was his 11th of the campaign.
Teemu Pukki, one of City's international contingent, was fed through on goal by a perfectly weighted Buendia pass. The Finnish international uncharacteristically dragged his low shot wide of the post.
City's top-scorer came close to adding a second soon after as Pukki picked up Sorensen's flick-on and drove towards goal. He opened up his body but could only curl his effort wide.
Preston were applying plenty of pressure as they continued their search for an equaliser. City were still proving to be a threat on the break and Buendia's sweeping pass put Pukki through on goal again.
The Finn composed himself before lifting the ball over Iverson with a fiercely struck effort but it cannoned off the crossbar and the hosts were able to clear.
City were looking to manage the game in the second period but were still dangerous when they worked an opening. Pukki failed to slot Buendia's pass into the net after the Argentine slipped in him behind the North End defence with 15 minutes to play.
Just as the clock ticked into the last minute of additional time, Preston launched a long ball forward in search of an equaliser. Potts picked the ball on the edge of the area before cutting inside and driving a low effort at goal. It sneaked past Krul to prevent City from claiming all three points.
- Preston North End (4-4-2): Iversen; van den Berg, Storey, Lindsay, Hughes; Barkhuizen (Maguire, 71), Ledson, Johnson (C) (Potts, 64), Sinclair (Molumby, 57); Evans (Whiteman, 71), Riis (Gordon, 71). Subs not used: Hudson (GK), Huntington, Bodin, Bayliss
- Bookings: Ledson (foul on Buendia, 8)
- Goals: Potts 90+5
- Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Krul; Mumba, Hanley (C), Omobamidele, Quintilla; Sorensen, McLean; Buendia (Skipp, 81), Dowell (Stiepermann, 72), Cantwell (Hernandez, 88); Pukki (Hugill, 88). Subs not used: Nyland (GK), Tettey, Vrancic, Martin, Placheta
Bookings: Hernandez (foul by Lindsay, 90)
- Goals: Buendia 17
- Added on time: 1 min/ 4 mins
- Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northants)