Norwich City held promotion-chasing Preston to a goalless draw at Deepdale.
Chances were few and far between in a match that neither side every dominated, and a draw was a fair result.
City’s XI was unchanged from the defeat to Cardiff City, but there was a place on the bench for Onel Hernandez who had been out for a month with a hamstring injury.
Preston dominated the opening 10 minutes, getting to the majority of second balls quicker and punching holes in City’s backline. Callum Robinson should have put the home side up in the ninth minute, latching on to a through-ball and rounding Angus Gunn, but the City keeper stayed on his feet to somehow win the ball back.
Moritz Leitner, James Maddison and Mario Vrancic started to take control of midfield as City looked to take the sting out of Preston’s start.
Norwich had their first real chance on 22 minutes. Leitner fed Josh Murphy on the left with a lovely 25-yards pass, and the winger picked out Maddison’s run into the box but he couldn’t quite turn it in from close range.
Six minutes later and Paul Gallagher crashed a free-kick against the crossbar after Grant Hanley had earned a booking for pulling down Tom Barkhuizen.
There was a worry for City in the 35th minute when Alex Tettey went down clearing the ball in his own box, but after lengthy treatment was able to continue.
There was a real lull to the game in the last 10 minutes of the first half, but Vrancic did well to dig out an excellent cross from the left but Dennis Srbeny was just beaten in the air.
Shortly before half-time Murphy had a chance after Maddison picked him out in the box, but he couldn’t quite get his feet sorted and the ball went behind.
City came out much brighter in the second half, and Alex Neil responded in the 53rd minute with a double substitution, bringing on Joshua Harrop and leading scorer Sean Maguire for Paul Gallagher and Barkhuizen.
On 60 minutes Preston broke from the corner, with Maguire carrying the ball forward and slipping in Robinson in the area, but Jamal Lewis did brilliantly to slide in and tackle as he was about to pull the trigger.
The match returned to the stodgy lull of the first half as both sides struggled to impose themselves on the game. A few tougher challenges started creeping in as the noise levels increased, but both sides struggled to create anything as the game entered the final 20 minutes.
Daniel Farke made two quick substitutions, with Nelson Oliveira and Hernandez replacing Srbeny and Leitner.
Preston had two great chances to take the lead as the game entered the final 15 minutes. First Bodin curled just wide of the far post with Gunn beaten, and then Maguire headed well over when unmarked.
Hernandez then almost made an immediate impact, dancing past two challenges in the box before the ball just ran away from him.
As the match entered five minutes of injury time Josh Murphy did brilliantly to block a point-blank effort from Tom Clarke. That was his last action of the game, as he was replaced by Ivo Pinto.
Timm Klose came close to a winner in the final minute of stoppage time, getting on the end of a curling Maddison free kick, spinning and curling agonisingly wide of the post.