Worthy: 'We deserved better luck'
CHRIS WISE Norwich City boss Nigel Worthington declared himself satisfied with his side's performance at Preston - and felt they could easily have come away from Deepdale with a hard-earned point.
Norwich City boss Nigel Worthington declared himself satisfied with his side's performance at Preston - and felt they could easily have come away from Deepdale with a hard-earned point.
The Canaries managed just one effort on target in the match, but the home side also struggled in front of goal and needed a big helping hand from their opponents to record a win that all but assured their place in the play-offs.
First half own goals from Jason Shackell and Gary Doherty eventually proved decisive and Worthington was left to reflect on what might have been after a 12th away defeat of the campaign.
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“I think that was one of our better away performances and but for the own goals we could possibly have got something out of it,” he said. “That sort of thing is all part of the game. It is disappointing, but there is nothing you can do about it.
“For the first one the ball has come in very quickly and Jason has tried to get his head on it. Unfortunately it came off the wrong side of his head.
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“For the other one Gary had to stretch for a cross and, with a Preston player putting him under pressure, it has ended up in the back of the net.
“After that I thought both teams gave it a go in what were difficult conditions because of the wind and the bumpy pitch. In the end it was a typical Championship game. We didn't over-create but we stuck to our task, which I was pleased about. The players kept believing, they kept working.
“We had two or three half chances in the final period of the game - we just needed the rub of the green.”
Saturday's defeat left the Canaries 14 points off the top six with just 12 left to play for, so it was an appropriate moment to look back on the season as a whole.
When asked where it had all gone wrong, Worthington pointed to an infuriating lack of consistency, especially away from home, and the difficulty in adjusting from Premiership to Championship football.
“I think our season has been a rollercoaster ride from day one,” he said. “We have been up and down all the way through. Away performances and results have certainly hurt us. We have had a lot of good results at home and that is your base to work from.
“There have been a lot of good things this season, but on the other hand there are a lot of things we need to tidy up on.
“We need to be more consistent away from home, that's for sure. We have had good results - we won at Ipswich and Sheffield United and got draws at Hull and Leeds.
“We have done well at other places too, but there are times when our performances have been very poor. There have been four or five of those.”
Asked to expand, he added: “When you come out of the Premiership it is a totally different ball game, as we have all found out this season. In this league you have to fight and scrap for every point you get.”
One of the other talking points from Saturday's game was the verbal stick handed out to Dickson Etuhu on his return to Deepdale.
The City midfielder was jeered mercilessly by the Preston fans all afternoon, presumably for the tackle that left Adam Nowland with a broken leg in the corresponding fixture at Carrow Road, and his manager believes he came out of the game with his reputation enhanced.
“I wouldn't say it was difficult but I thought Dickson handled the situation very well,” he said. “You get that sort of response at a lot of clubs and he kept his head and was very professional. He is saying hello to all his mates at Preston as I speak.”
Etuhu failed to make much of an impression with his football in an extremely scrappy display, but Worthington now looks set to stick with him for the remainder of the campaign
“We'll have a look at giving him a decent run now,” he said.
Preston boss Billy Davies insisted guaranteeing a top-six place was his only concern after his team's victory.
North End leapfrogged Crystal Palace into fifth place on goal difference and have a 10-point advantage over Wolves in seventh, with just four games left.
Davies, who is waiting to discover the extent of hamstring injuries suffered by Brian O'Neil and Marcus Stewart, said: “At this stage of the season it's all about winning games and it's not about the pretty football that we play.
“It's about getting over the line, and that's what we're trying to do. Our objective was to get a clean sheet and we got one or two little breaks in the box.
“But that doesn't tell the real picture. In the first half the lads showed great spirit and determination and that's what it's all about, just getting over this line.”