Preston North End supporters have their say on 1-1 draw at Norwich on Saturday.
A well earned point for North End in Norfolk and on the balance of play some would suggest we could have won the game.
Certainly we had the better chances, particularly late on, but I suspect Alex Neil and the majority of the 454 travelling fans went home satisfied with the day’s work.
Norwich just about held the upper hand until they scored but from then on it was North End who always looked the more likely.
A bizarre incident with an assistant and an unofficial fifth offical meant the the game had a59-minute second half and finished just as the opening music was playing to Strictly Come Dancing.
I thought we missed Ben Pearson in the middle of the park and Sean Maguire for his strength and guile up front but all things considered it was a good result to top off a very good week on the road. North End started well enough reverting to 4-2-3-1 with Robinson and Browne replacing Pearson and Mavididi.
Norwich were almost ahead at the quarter hour when Maxwell came out to clear but was rounded and Fisher defended well to see the danger away. Norwich were in the ascendancy without causing us major problems but 10 minutes from half time a disputed free kick on the North End right was struck sweetly into the top corner by Maddison.
Some questioned Maxwell’s positioning but I thought it was a superb strike by Maddison to give Norwich the lead. At the other end, Alan Browne hit the bar with an overhead kick that would have been a contender for goal of the season but North End went in slightly unfortunate to be one down at the break.
North End’s response in the second period was excellent and right from the kick off we aimed to take the game to the Canaries at every opportunity. We unquestionably won the midfield battle and as we got on top the chances came.
Calum Woods had a great chance to equalise but his soft header was easily saved by the keeper. Eventually, though, our hard work paid off and from a quality corner on the right, from Gallagher, the cross was met sweetly by Paul Huntington’s head and Tom Barkhuizen was there to steer the ball over the line and put North End level. Then we had the incident with the assistant pulling his groin and the fourth official taking over the line.
This left one of the local Norwich Programme contributors to become the 5th official and he put the added time board up in a black top and jeans. The 10 minutes added became 14 due to a series of stoppages with North End having a great chance to win the game with Barkhuizen clean through.
Unfortunately the goal scorer had one touch too many and Norwich had probably escaped with a draw at the end of the game. This wasn’t North End’s best performance of the season but the one thing that stuck out, for me, was our response to going a goal down away from home after the recent bad run we have been on.
If ever anybody wanted evidence that these players and everyone at the club are all in this together then the proof was at Carrow Road on Saturday.
The reaction of players and fans after the equaliser was a privilege to be part of and just reward for a 500 mile round trip and a 13 hour day. No doubt that we have the nucleus of a very strong squad and once everyone is fit and we get some quality reinforcements in the January window then this season may yet prove to be far from over.
Three of the next four games are at home with a trip to Burton in between, so it's a great opportunity to pull back some of the points lost during Black October as North End start to get back on track again.
Four points from two long road trips represents a good return for Alex Neil’s side.
Judging by the performance there must be renewed optimism now that we have a few players returning from injury that we could maybe get our season back on track following a run of disappointing results.
In the first half our high energy pressing game caused our opponents problems but also left us exposed at times at the back and we had a couple of let offs before the home side took the lead after the half hour mark.Our best chance of the half was an Alan Browne overhead kick which cannoned off the bar -an effort I thought was reminiscent of those of Alex Bruce in the 1970s.
There was no half time rousing pitch side speech by Delia Smith on this occasion which the home side could have done with as they sat back on their lead in the second half. If Alex Neil’s half time talk was on the lines of “Lets be having you”it certainly did the trick as we put Norwich to the sword for most of the half and deservedly got ourselves an equaliser 20 minutes from time through Tom Barkhuizen
.Although the home side pressed a little at the end there was no end product to their possession and we also had chances to nick a win at the end particularly when Barkhuizen, whose pace had caused Norwich problems throughout the game, was put through.
At the end of the game there were no singing Canaries inside the ground as their fans were booing with the only singing being done by our more chirpier fans who were paying homage to my man of the match skipper Paul Huntington with a rendition of the “Cumbrian cannavaro” song.
The games finishing time was delayed for around fifteen minutes due when the linesman limped off to be replaced by the fourth official who in turn was replaced by a Norwich fan from the crowd..