Preston North End got 2006 off to a winning start against Norwich but it was a painful one for Adam Nowland.
They beat the Canaries 3-0 at Carrow Road, midfielder Nowland, Graham Alexander and David Nugent on target.
But Nowland’s afternoon ended prematurely when he suffered a double fracture of his right leg.
He was hurt in a tackle with Dickson Etuhu who was on loan with Norwich from North End at the time.
With a permanent move about to go through, Etuhu had been given permission by PNE to play against them.
It was a decision, which with hindsight, they wish had not been made.
Etuhu was not booked for the challenge, however the feeling in the Preston camp was that it had bordered on the over-zealous.
North End had been short of numbers for the January 2 trip to East Anglia.
It had forced Billy Davies to play Graham Alexander in a midfield role, a switch from his defensive duties.
Alexander had partnered Nowland in the middle, with Callum Davidson pushed up on to the left-wing.
North End were excellent for long spells of the game, an early shot from Davidson which went just wide a sign of things to come.
Only rarely was Carlo Nash called into action in the Preston goal, one occasion seeing him slide at the feet of Darren Huckerby to save.
The visitors took the lead in first-half stoppage-time.
Chris Sedgwick got the ball on the right-wing and finding his way blocked, fed a pass inside to Alexander.
In turn, Alexander found Nowland who moved past two Norwich defenders with one touch before prodding a shot past Robert Green.
But nine minutes into the second half, Nowland was left in agony after going in with Etuhu for a loose ball.
Play was held up for more than five minutes as he was treated by medics and then stretchered off.
Patrick Agyemang came off the bench to replace him and soon had a sight of goal, denied by Green’s agility.
At the other end, Nash made a finger-tip save from Craig Fleming.
North End scored their second goal with 69 minutes played.
Danny Dichio’s flicked up the ball with a neat back heel, Fleming sticking out a hand to prevent it running to a Preston player.
Referee Nigel Miller gave a penalty which Alexander dispatched into the bottom corner of the net.
Soon after, Dichio got a stray elbow in the face which resulted in a broken nose.
That prompted a furious reaction from the PNE bench, a police officer having to step in to calm things.
Victory was assured in the 74th minute as Nugent stole the ball off Simon Charlton who had pondered outside the penalty box.
Nugent dashed forward into the box and drilled a low shot into the bottom corner.
Having scored only once in four months, that was a most welcome return to form for the striker.
Both sides had late shouts for penalties turned down, Norwich claiming after the ball struck Alexander’s arm in the box.
At the other end, Matt Hill went down under a challenge from Ian Henderson, only for Mr Miller to wave play on.
After the game, Preston’s assistant manager David Kelly said: “We stood up to be counted.
“It was as good as anything we have played away from home.
“We thoroughly deserved to win.”