Brad Potts netted a 94th minute equaliser for Preston North End to break the hearts of Norwich City who looked to be one step closer to the Premier League.
Emi Buendia continued his fine season by opening the scoring in the first half with a fine effort, but after a second half where the hosts rarely threatened, substitute Potts struck with nearly the last kick of the game to make Frankie McAvoy’s first game in caretaker charge a happy one.
The Lilywhites lined up in a very unfamiliar-looking 4-1-3-2 formation, with Daniel Johnson, Scott Sinclair and Tom Barkhuizen all supporting Ched Evans and Emil Riis in an attack-minded system.
As you can expect it was a very open game and it was PNE who had the best of the opening chances, with Riis being played through on goal with a quarter of an hour played, but his effort when one-on-one with Tim Krul was tame, and the rebound cannoned off the head of Evans and wide of the Norwich goal.
Sinclair then had a chance just a minute later as the ball fell to him in the six yard box, but the winger scuffed his effort and the Canaries managed to clear the danger.
It would only be moments later when the league leaders opened the scoring though – North End were distracted by a winded Liam Lindsay on the floor, who had taken a Teemu Pukki shot to the midriff with full force, and it allowed the prolific Emi Buendia to maraud forward with the ball before striking it with his left foot from 20 yards.
The Argentinian found the bottom corner of Daniel Iversen’s goal to make it 1-0 to the Norfolk side in a moment that was against the run of play.
Norwich had chances to extend their lead in the opening 45 minutes, with Teemu Pukki being sent clear through on goal on 31 minutes, but he stuttered as he got one-on-one with Iversen as he dragged his effort wide of the goal.
The second half started much the way the first ended – a lot of Norwich having the ball with North End pressing them, and the best chance of the opening moments fell to Pukki, who exposed PNE’s high line after racing on to a Kieran Dowell ball.
Pukki got one on one with Iversen once again, however he couldn’t find the net once again – this time his shot crashing off the underside of the crossbar before going away from goal.
North End were struggling to break through a rigid Canaries back-line which consisted of two teenagers, and they made all five available substitutes in the second half to try and salvage a point.
It was Pukki again though who was in the chances, played through with 12 minutes to go to try and seal the victory once and for all but he once again put his effort wide.
Would he go on to regret all his misses though?
In short – yes.
North End didn’t look like scoring at all really in the second half and towards the end of the game it was Norwich who looked like scoring again the most, with Marco Stiepermann’s effort being turned away by Iversen from range.
And even though the game looked up, North End managed to salvage a point thanks to substitute Potts.
The midfielder held the ball up in the box before turning and firing a shot towards goal, which deflected off a visiting defender and beyond Tim Krul – a cruel blow for the Canaries but euphoria for McAvoy and North End.