Norwich 1-1 Preston North End - 25-Nov-2017 : Match Report

25 November 2017
Alex Neil makes his point on his return to Norwich

Alex Neil picked up a point on his return to Carrow Road as his Preston side picked up a hard-fought 1-1 against his former side Norwich.

The visitors went behind in the first half when James Maddison curled in a glorious free-kick, but fought their way back into it through Tom Barkhuizen.

The second half lasted 59 minutes after an injury to one of the referees' assistants caused a long delay, but there still not enough time for either side to grab a winner as Norwich's run without a victory was extended to seven games.

After a low-key start it took 20 minutes for either side to carve out a decent opportunity - but what a chance it was for the hosts.

Chris Maxwell came rushing out of his area after Wes Hoolahan had put Josh Murphy through, and it looked a certain goal when the Preston keeper missed the ball. But defender Darnell Fisher had got back to cover and was in the right place to block when Murphy attempted to convert.

It was a big let-off for Neil's side but there was no escape on 34 minutes when Fisher went from hero to villain by carelessly bringing Hoolahan down on the left-hand edge of the penalty with the visitors under no real pressure.

Maddison had the option of crossing or going for goal and he chose the latter with spectacular results, leaving Maxwell clutching at thin air as he curled home his fifth goal of the season.

Norwich went back into their shell after that timely boost and Preston almost equalised four minutes later when Alan Browne latched on to Jordan Hugill's knock-back before producing a wonderful overhead kick which came back off the crossbar.

Barkhuizen also sent a far-post header just wide while a brave block by Grant Hanley denied the visitors as they finished the first half on top.

The Canaries might have stretched their lead nine minutes into the second half when it took a last-ditch tackle from Ben Davies to foil Hoolahan and Murphy's follow-up effort was deflected wide.

Preston left back Callum Woods then nodded Callum Robinson's cross straight at Angus Gunn when well placed inside the six-yard box before the visitors scored a deserved equaliser.

Norwich had defended well up to that point but were guilty of switching off at Gallacher's corner and Paul Huntington simply strolled into the danger area and headed the ball past an exposed Gunn, with Barkhuizen appearing to get a touch as it went in.

Alex Pritchard, playing his first match of the season for Norwich after injury, tested Maxwell from distance after coming on as a substitute before a bizarre incident saw play delayed when one of the assistants had to hobble off, with local referee David Thornhill, who was watching the game, eventually being installed as fourth official.

It meant 10 minutes of added time, with a couple of injuries adding to it but neither side could force a winner.