City come from behind twice to draw with Preston
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
1,000 City supporters returned to Carrow Road, with Norwich City starting their home campaign with a 2-2 draw with Alex Neil’s Preston North End.
The visitors led twice courtesy of Scott Sinclair and Darnell Fisher but Przemyslaw Placheta’s late equaliser ensured City’s unbeaten start remained.
Teemu Pukki netted his first goal of the season in the first-half, heading City back into the game after Sinclair’s spot-kick.
Emi Buendia’s return was highly-anticipated by City supporters but the Argentine wasn’t involved in the Canaries matchday squad after he failed a late fitness test. Daniel Farke revealed in his pre-match press conference that the playmaker had suffered a knock in training.
City’s boss named an unchanged starting XI from the 1-0 opening day victory over Huddersfield Town – with Max Aarons starting despite fresh speculation linking him with a move to Barcelona.
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Former Canaries manager Alex Neil saw his preparation scuppered by the news that striker Jayden Stockley had been forced into self-isolation after a member of his family had come into contact with someone with Covid-19 symptoms. City academy graduate Declan Rudd started the game for the Lilywhites.
It was the visitors who started the better – with City being put under instant pressure by Preston. Tom Barkhuizen rose at the back post to meet Maguire’s header but Aarons was able to head the ball clear.
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Preston’s dominance was rewarded after Oliver Skipp was adjudged to have fouled Ben Davies in the area. The Tottenham Hotspur loanee was punished for a push. Replays suggest Skipp’s contact with Preston’s defender was minimal, but the City midfielder gave John Brooks an opportunity to award a penalty.
Former Manchester City winger Sinclair stepped up to take the spot-kick, rolling it past Tim Krul and into the net.
Xavi Quintilla’s deliveries were adding a dimension to City’s attack. His chipped free-kick saw Onel Hernandez’ acrobatic effort drop wide after a deflection. From the resulting corner, City recycled possession back to Quintilla. His cross was met by the head of Pukki – his header should have been saved by Rudd, but it dropped into the net off the back of the ex-City keeper.
That goal seemed to breathe some life into City, with Pukki nearly capitalising on a Preston mistake. Ben Davies misjudged Ben Pearson’s cushioned header and the Finn was sent racing through on goal. Rudd came charging out of his goal and Pukki looked to loft the ball over him, only for the Lilywhites keeper to clear.
But it was Neil’s men to retook the lead on the stroke of half-time. Ryan Ledson’s defence splitting pass found Sinclair in the area. His chipped effort was cleared by Ben Godfrey but fell kindly for Darnell Fisher. The right-back volleyed into the net to score his first goal for the club.
It was a lively, full-blooded start to the second half with the officials letting plenty go. City were pushing for an equaliser, Aarons’ curling left-footed strike landed on the roof of the net.
The Canaries continued their push for an equaliser and were beginning to work some openings in their offensive passages of play. Cantwell slipped Quintilla in down the left who crossed from the byline. His delivery was cleared by Patrick Bauer and it fell to Aarons, who unleashed another fierce long-range effort but saw it sail over the bar.
Preston were still lively on the counter attack and Barkhuizen was sent clear on the left after positive work from the visitors. He cut inside and looked to find the top-right corner but his effort was high and wide.
The Canaries were in the ascendancy now. Young Adam Idah did brilliantly to beat his man on the right before cutting in and shooting. His drilled shot was saved by Rudd but pushed into the path of Placheta. With the goal gaping, the Polish under-21 international somehow missed the target.
Placheta did make amends for his miss – as he netted City’s equaliser with five minutes to play. Aarons’ good work resulted in a cross that landed nicely for the winger to volley. His first effort was blocked but it fell back to the Pole who volleyed into the net.
City nearly snatched all three points at the death when Idah clipped a delightful pass into the path of Placheta. His cross was met by Pukki who turned his effort goalwards only for Rudd to produce a wonderful reflex save.
- Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann (C), Godfrey, Quintilla; Skipp, McLean; Cantwell (Hugill, 89), Dowell (Placheta, 25), Hernandez (Idah, 63); Pukki. Subs not used: McGovern (GK), Gibson, Tettey, Rupp.
- Bookings: Quintilla (foul on Sinclair, 48), Sinclair (time wasting, 82)
- Goals: Pukki 31, Placheta 85
- Preston North End (4-2-3-1): Rudd; Fisher, Bauer, Davies (Hughes, 80), Rafferty (Storey, 80); Pearson, Ledson, Barkhuizen, Browne (C) (Potts, 80), Sinclair; Maguire. Subs not used: Ripley (GK), Harrop, Gallagher, Bodin.
- Bookings: Fisher (foul on Cantwell, 34)
- Goals: Sinclair 14, Fisher 42
- Added on time: 3 mins/6 mins
- Attendance: 1,000
- Referee: John Brooks