Match report: PNE 1 Norwich City 3

Preston North End suffered their first home defeat of 2017 in the Championship as they were beaten by Norwich City.

Monday, 17th April 2017, 9:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:51 pm
Tommy Spurr celebrates his goal - a rare high point for PNE on Easter Monday.
Tommy Spurr celebrates his goal - a rare high point for PNE on Easter Monday.

A woeful first-half performance proved their undoing, the Canaries taking a two-goal-lead into the interval as Graham Dorrans and Josh Murphy struck.

The Lilywhites were better after the break and substitute Tommy Spurr gave them hope with a 67th minute header, his first goal for the club.

But as they pressed for an equaliser, Norwich caught them on the break two minutes into stoppage-time, James Maddison finding the net.

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Greg Cunningham is stretchered off.

It was a third defeat on the bounce for North End and their first in the league at Deepdale since Leeds beat them 4-1 on Boxing Day.

Tom Barkhuizen goes close.

Simon Grayson had made three changes to the side beaten at Huddersfield on Good Friday.

Alan Browne, Andy Boyle and Callum Robinson came into the starting XI in place of the suspended Ben Pearson, the injured Tom Clarke and Daniel Johnson who dropped down to the bench.

There was a place on the bench for young goalkeeper Mathew Hudson who took over from Anders Lindegaard who has not started a game since late October.

Greg Cunningham is stretchered off.

North End served-up perhaps their most lacklustre 45 minutes of football for a long time in the first half.

They had the contest's first chance with just 80 seconds on the clock, Aiden McGeady's low shot after he had tricked his way into the box catching a slight deflection and forcing John Ruddy to save with his feet.

In the 11th minute, they lost the services of Greg Cunningham to what looked like a serious injury.

The left-back tried to play on after being hurt in a challenge but went down soon after and had to be helped to the side of the pitch.

Tom Barkhuizen goes close.

His right shin seemed to be the problem and Cunningham had to be stretchered round the pitch to the dressing room.

Jordan Hugill got played into space by McGeady but as defenders closed in, he ignored a pass out to Robinson to the left of him.

That seemed to the signal for Norwich to begin to get on top, Dorrans sweeping a shot high over the bar after Alex Pritchard rolled a corner into his path.

Cameron Jerome's bicycle kick went straight into Chris Maxwell's gloves, while at the other side, Maenick Vermijl drove a first-time shot from 25 yards side when he should have taken it nearer to goal.

The stalemate was broken in the 28th minute, North End clearing a corner from the left out of the box as far as Steven Naismith, his lay-off finding Dorrans who drilled a low shot into the bottom corner from 25 yards with the help of a slight deflection.

It was a lead which Norwich doubled five minutes before the break, an unmarked Murphy collecting Jerome's flick in the box and shooting low past Maxwell.

McGeady shot from wide from just outside the box, a flicker of spark coming from the home side in the build-up to that chance.

But for Maxwell, the Canaries would have led 3-0 at the interval.

In the second minute of first-half stoppage-time Gallagher's attempted pass back to Paul Huntington was intercepted by Pritchard who ran through on goal, Maxwell spreading himself well to block the shot.

North End started the second-half better. Gallagher sending a free-kick just wide from 25 yards after Barkhuizen had been fouled.

Robinson collected a McGeady pass and came in field from the left channel, his shot stinging the gloves of Ruddy who held it at the second attempt.

Further chances came at the other end, Canaries skipper Russell Martin volleying over from close range after Jerome had headed down a Pritchard corner and then Murphy's shot was taken over the bar by Boyle's sliding challenge.

A quickly-taken goal kick by Maxwell released Robinson down the right channel, the front man cutting into the box but opting to square it inside to Barkhuizen, with the ball deflecting off a Norwich boot and behind for a corner.

After an hour, Barkhuizen got past the last defender on the edge of the box but on his weaker left foot, blazed a shot over the bar.

Daryl Horgan's introduction from the bench in the 62nd minute in place of Vermijl saw North End change to a 3-5-2 system.

North End halved the deficit five minutes after that change, Gallagher's free-kick from the left channel finding Spurr in the box who rose to guide a header across Ruddy and into the far corner of the net.

Two chances quickly followed, Robinson's cross to the far post finding Barkhuizen who looked certain to score but a deflection took his shot the wrong side of the post.

Gallagher's resulting corner found Huntington but the centre-half put a header narrowly wide.

In the closing stages, McGeady fired into the side-netting and Hugill volleyed wide after meeting a deep ball from Boyle but North End were caught on the break two minutes into stoppage-time for Norwich's third goal.

Norwich broke on them 3 v 2, Nelson Oliveira's getting possession just inside PNE's half and feeding a pass through to Naismith who in turn played in Maddison down the right side of the box.

The substitute was left with just Maxwell to beat and he drilled a low shot past him into the net.

PNE: Maxwell, Vermijl (Horgan 62), Huntington, Boyle, Cunningham (Spurr 11), Barkhuzien, Browne, Gallagher, McGeady, Robinson (Johnson 82), Hugill. Subs (not used): Makienok, Beckford, May, Hudson.

Norwich: Ruddy, Pinto, Martin, Bennett, Dijks, Dorrans, Howson, Murphy, Pritchard (Maddison 78), Naismith, Jerome (Oliveria 78). Subs (not used): Whittaker, Wildschut, Murphy, Godfrey, McGovern.

Referee: James Adcock (Nottinghamshire)

Attendance: 11,373 (546 away)

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