'Let's use it as a springboard': Andrew Hughes looks forward to Preston North End's visit to Swansea after the late equaliser against Norwich

Andrew Hughes hopes Preston North End’s late equaliser against Norwich City can be the springboard for better results in the run-in to the end of the season.

Sunday, 4th April 2021, 8:00 am

The Lilywhites left it very late to grab a point in the Good Friday clash at Deepdale, Brad Potts scoring in the fifth minute of stoppage-time.

A minimum of four minutes had been added so a few extra seconds were to prove vital.

The draw nudged PNE 10 points clear of Rotherham who occupy the third bottom slot and will send them into their Easter Monday clash with Swansea City in good heart.

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How the North End players and staff celebrated Potts’ equaliser, demonstrated what it meant to them.

Potts sprinted towards the technical area where there was a pile-on, new interim head coach Frankie McAvoy disappearing into the scrum of bodies.

“It was a big moment, it showed what the goal meant to the boys,” said left-back Hughes.

“The boys from the bench came piling in, all the lads were involved.

Brad Potts and Andrew Hughes celebrate Preston North End's late equaliser against Norwich City at Deepdale on Good Friday

“I feel like it is going to be a turning point for the season, I really do.

“When Brad scored I knew it was close to the end.

“I’d asked the linesman how long was left and Steve Thompson had shouted on ‘it’s time’.

“You get so focused on the game that you don’t realise exactly how long is left.

PNE left-back Andrew Hughes tussles with Norwich's Emiliano Buendia

“Obviously you’ve got a rough idea of what stage you’re at but once you get into added on time you can lose track a bit.

“A good thing about scoring so late is that Norwich didn’t have time to try and come back at us. They are a really good team and showed that.

“There was a good vibe in our dressing room afterwards, I was really happy as were all the lads and staff.

“I was buzzing for Pottsy that he had scored, he’s a good mate.

Touchline celebrations after PNE draw level against Norwich

“We’d been on a tough run so the draw at least stopped that.

“We go to Swansea on Monday looking to build on the Norwich draw and see where that takes us.”

With Potts’ goal coming so late and his shot taking a nick off Norwich centre-half Andrew Omobamidele, fortune did shine on North End somewhat.

Fortune has been in short supply of late though, so perhaps it was overdue as the 1-1 draw kicked-off the interim spell in charge for McAvoy.

Hughes said: “100% you need some luck here and there, every side does.

“At the time I couldn’t see it had taken a deflection but as long as it ripples the net and there is no flag from the linesman, that’s fine by me.”

Norwich’s visit was always going to be a tough one, new head coach in charge or not.

The Canaries came to Deepdale on the back of nine straight victories and a draw, a run which had taken them clear at the summit of the Championship.

They will book their return to the Premier League in the coming weeks and as they do so, North End will reflect on twice getting draws against them this season.

At times on Friday it was hard going for them against Daniel Farke’s men.

PNE were better in the first half than they were the second, Norwich having some good chances to extend their lead and put the contest to bed.

The old football mantra of ‘stay in the game’ worked wonders though, with only a 1-0 deficit to chase it needed just one opportunity to fall their way.

Hughes said: “We were a bit unfortunate in the first half not to score one of the chances we had.

“Then Norwich went and scored a very good goal which is how things had been for us over the last few weeks.

“Norwich are a great team, they are where they are in the table for a reason.

“They’ve got some very players who keep the ball for long periods of time.

“It means you have to work really hard to get the ball back in the first place and then when you have it, you have to work hard to keep it.

“So to draw 1-1 with them wasn’t too bad in my opinion.

“We know where we are at the moment, we know that we need points.”

The fact it is McAvoy at the helm seems to have gone down well in the North End dressing room.

Hughes was sad to see Alex Neil leave in the wake of the Luton defeat a fortnight ago, having played for nearly three season under him.

Football quickly moves on though, the focus shifting to the remaining games rather than what went on in the early stages of the international break.

“It is a fresh start under Frankie,” said Hughes.

“We were disappointed when Alex left but it is the nature of the industry that we have to move on.

“As players with what is at stake, we haven’t got time to dwell on it.

“Our focus is on trying to get points on the board with Frankie in charge.

“We quickly go again on Monday, we have seven games left and want to finish strongly.

“Swansea will be a tough game, they are up there in the table and chasing promotion.

“We will recover from Friday and get ready for that one.”

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