NORWICH suffered their first home defeat of the season as Preston North End won 1-0 at Carrow Road.
City's best chance of the first half fell to Cameron Jerome after only 14 seconds, Preston 'keeper Chris Maxwell palming his shot over after Wes Hoolahan had him out.
The visitors were full of energy, however, and denied the Canaries space in the opening 45, Michael McGovern forced into two fine saves at the beginning and end of the half from Jordan Hugill and Callum Robinson.
They continued to frustrate Alex Neil's men, and took the lead with just a quarter of an hour left on the clock when Alex Baptiste powered a header home from Daniel Johnson's free-kick.
After going behind, City didn't manage to squeeze an equaliser despite the presence of two strikers - Jerome struck the woodwork - plus Hoolahan and Alex Pritchard, and the Lancashire club went away with three hard-earned points from their trip.
HOW THEY LINED UP
Neil initially opted to stick with the starting eleven that he fielded against Fulham at Craven Cottage in midweek, but he was forced into a change just before kick-off with Ryan Bennett replacing Ivo Pinto.
Russell Martin captained the Canaries, while in midfield Graham Dorrans and Alex Tettey continued in the absence of Jonny Howson.
Jerome, City's leading scorer, led the line, but Pritchard was among those who had to be content with a place on the bench.
The Lilywhites scored all three of their winning goals against Huddersfield in midweek from set-pieces, and the decisive goal here came from the same source.
Main taker Paul Gallagher had been substituted, but Johnson proved an able deputy as he curled his delivery in with pace.
Baptiste lost his man and got the perfect connection on his header, leaving McGovern with no chance to keep this one out despite his impressive efforts from earlier.
WHAT IT MEANS
A first loss in front of their own fans meant City dropped out of the automatic promotion places in the Sky Bet Championship.
Wins for Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion secured their spots in the top two, with the Canaries next league test coming against Albion on the south coast in a week's time.
Alex Baptiste (75)
: McGovern; Martin (c), Bennett, Klose, Olsson; Tettey, Dorrans; Ja. Murphy (Oliveira 56), Hoolahan, Brady (Pritchard 57); Jerome. Subs not used
: Ruddy (GK), Bassong, Naismith, Jo. Murphy, Thompson.
PRESTON NORTH END
: Maxwell; Cunningham, Pearson, Clarke (c), Wright, Johnson, Gallagher (Browne 73), Pringle (Spurr 73), Hugill, Baptiste, Robinson (Huntington 90). Subs not used
: Lindegaard (GK), Humphrey, Makienok, Doyle.
: Stephen Martin
Tickets are available on general sale for City's EFL Cup Round Four game at Leeds United at Elland Road on Tuesday, with all the details HERE
To view the Canaries' upcoming fixtures in full, click HERE