Preston North End 1 Norwich City 0

Preston North End moved up to fourth in the Championship table with their 12th home win of the season.

>> PNE beauty stars as 'Soccerette' - video

But Alan Irvine's side had to work hard for the victory which saw them reach the boss's 53-point target for safety from relegation.

Norwich pushed North End every inch of the way in a mistake-ridden game and could have snatched a draw near the end but for new signing Andrew Davies who made two crucial blocks in the six-yard box to keep the Canaries out.

The only goal of the game came from big striker Jon Parkin four minutes before the interval, his fifth since joining the club - and all of them at Deepdale!

A minute earlier Parkin had slammed a shot against the left-hand post with keeper David Marshall well-beaten.

But "The Beast" was luckier 60 seconds later when he was teed up by strike partner Chris Brown and he found the net with an effort which went in off the right-hand upright.

With rivals Cardiff and Sheffield United both in FA Cup action, the win took Preston up to fourth spot, although having played more games than the sides around them.

Norwich almost made a sensational start to the game when they attacked straight from the kick-off and winger Lee Croft sent a low shot fizzing wide of the left-hand upright with only seven seconds on the stopwatch.

New boy Andrew Davies found himself in a tight spot on the edge of the North End box moments later, but he managed to extricate himself skilfully and clear the danger.

And in Preston's first attack Richard Chaplow tricked his way into space on the right and crossed for Sean St Ledger to get in a header which keeper David Marshall saved comfortably.

Croft's deflected shot gave Norwich the first corner of the game and resulted in a glancing header from Jason Shackell which flashed wide of the far post.

At the other end Parkin played in Brown, but the former Norwich player blazed over after turning on the left of goal.

North End went close in the 27th minute when a free-kick was launched into the visitors' box by Eddie Nolan, Parkin nodded down, Barry Nicholson's toe-poked shot hit team-mate Sedgwick in the six-yard box and defender Gary Doherty hoofed away to safety.

Chaplow almost gifted Norwich the breakthrough when he gave the ball away to Croft in midfield, the winger dashed forward and only a timely intervention by St Ledger and a one-handed save by Andrew Lonergan prevented his shot going in.

Moments later Chaplow made amends downfield by setting up Nicholson on the left of goal, but right-back Jon Otsemobor got across to block his shot.

Five minutes before the interval a mistake by Jonathan Grounds let in Parkin and after making room the striker tried to pick his spot past keeper Marshall but his shot came back off the left-hand post.

A minute later he had better luck when Brown helped on a free-kick from Nicholson to Parkin on the left of goal. Once again his effort beat Marshall all ends up, but this time it clipped the inside of the right-hand post and bounced across into the left-hand corner of the net for the opening goal.

The second half was barely 60 seconds old when Parkin clipped the ball over the top for Chaplow to volley goalwards, but Marshall stuck out a glove to palm the effort away.

Just before the hour mark Wes Hoolahan went down in the Preston box under pressure from St Ledger but referee Rob Shoebridge waved away penalty claims, most of which had come from the Norwch fans at that end of the ground.

Within seconds North End were back down the other end with Parkin blasting in a shot which canoned off a defender to safety.

Hoolahan, who was booed practically every time he touched the ball, reacted quickly to a tame punch by Lonergan but was just too high with his snap shot.

There was an almighty scare for Preston six minutes from time, but Davies threw himself in the way of two close range shots from Carney and sub Jamie Cureton to prevent an equaliser.

New signing Andrew Davies was thrown straight in at the deep end just 24 hours after signing for Preston North End.

The 24-year-old Stoke City defender was handed his debut against Norwich, surprisingly in place of centre-half Youl Mawene who was rumoured to be carrying a slight injury and dropped to the bench.

Davies, who came within minutes of signing for the Canaries on transfer deadline day two weeks ago, was one of a number of personnel and positional changes for North End following their impressive defensive performance to get a point at Reading.

Eddie Nolan kept his place at left-back after recovering from the foot injury which forced him out of the Republic of Ireland's midweek World Cup qualifier.

But with left-winger Ross Wallace forced to sit out today's match due to suspension, boss Alan Irvine had to reshuffle things in midfield with Chris Sedgwick switching flanks, Barry Nicholson moving to the right side and Richard Chaplow returning to partner skipper Paul McKenna in the engine room.

There was also a change up front with Chris Brown preferred to Stephen Elliott as partner for Jon Parkin, giving Preston a two-pronged aerial threat.

Norwich boss Bryan Gunn made three changes to his side following their defeat at home to Bristol City last weekend, with Jason Shackell, Mark Fotheringham and Alan Gow coming in for Adam Drury, Sammy Clingan and Jamie Cureton.

Preston North End: Lonergan, Jones, Davies, St Ledger, Nolan, Nicholson, Chaplow, McKenna, Sedgwick, Parkin, Brown.

Substitutes: Neal, Mawene, Hawley, Carter, Whaley.

Norwich City: Marshall, Otsemobor, Doherty, Grounds, Shackell, Croft, Fotheringham, Russell, Hoolahan, Gow, Cort.

Substitutes: Keijer, Nelson, Carney, Cureton, Killen.

Referee: Rob Shoebridge (Derbyshire)