Norwich City showed resilience and determination to come from behind twice to earn a deserved point at home to Preston North End.
In the first game in front of supporters since March - as Carrow Road welcomed back in 1,000 fans into the South Stand as part of a pilot scheme - the Yellows were cheered off by the spectators at the final whistle thanks to Przemyslaw Placheta’s 86th-minute equaliser.
Head coach Daniel Farke named an unchanged team from the side that had won against Huddersfield Town last time out, with Emi Buendia, who was set to return from suspension for the match, missing out altogether having picked up a knock in training.
That meant Teemu Pukki started up front, with Onel Hernandez, Todd Cantwell and Kieran Dowell just behind him, while the back four of Xavid Quintilla, Ben Godfrey, Christoph Zimmerman and Max Aarons, had holding midfielders Oliver Skipp and Kenny McLean just in front of them. There were no changes on the substitutes’ bench either from the Huddersfield game.
Preston began the match brightly snapping into challenges and winning their fair share of ball inside Norwich’s half. City did have a breakaway attack when Todd Cantwell was stopped just short of the 18-yard box by a good sliding challenge from Ben Pearson, but it was the visitors who took the lead after 13 minutes when a corner was played into the box and Oliver Skipp was adjudged to have pushed Ben Davies in the back. Scott Sinclair stepped up to take the spot kick and sent Tim Krul the wrong way.
However, City responded well to that setback with Xavi Quintilla, a danger throughout, sending a couple of low crosses into the box. Daniel Farke was forced into an early change after 24 minutes as Kieron Dowell went of injured to be replaced by Placheta.
And following a spell of pressure, Norwich deservedly got back on terms when a half-cleared corner was kept alive by Quintilla who delivered a inswinging ball for Pukki to send a glancing header towards the top corner that, former Canary, Declan Rudd could only parry into his own net.
Pukki then had the chance to make it 2-1 moments later but, having done well to steal in on an under hit back-pass, Rudd was quickly out of his goal to deny him.
Preston then nudged themselves in front once more in the 41st-minute as a Sinclair shot was blocked but fell kindly for Darnell Fisher who followed up to fire home.
Norwich’s frustrations then grew at the start of the second half as Quintilla was harshly booked for a foul on Fisher, when he appeared to win the ball cleanly when tackling the Preston full back on the edge of the box. Thankfully not further damage was done as Sinclair’s free-kick went straight into the wall.
At the other end Max Aarons was getting forward from his full-back position well and curled a coupled of efforts just over the crossbar after 51 and 60 minutes played.
Just after the hour mark Farke made a switch, bringing on Adam Idah for Hernandez and switching to a 4-4-2 formation. It seemed to bring City more joy as for the remainder of the match they penned the visitors in. First Placheta fired a good chance over, while Idah brought a good save out of the Preston keeper following a ball into the box from Ben Godfrey.
Then Cantwell was rather crudely tripped on the edge of the area, giving Placheta another sight of goal but, just as before, his effort from the free-kick was too high to trouble Rudd.
So, it appeared that going into the final minutes that, despite all the endeavour from City, the visitors were going to succeed in their mission to frustrate and take the three points from Carrow Road. However, Placheta then found the breakthrough as his initial shot was blocked only for him to follow up and fire a first time effort into the bottom corner with four minutes to go.
It was no more than City deserved and then were unfortunate not to come away with all three points when in the final minute of stoppage time Placheta crossed for Pukki to flick a near post shot towards goal that Rudd instinctively turned around for a corner.
Norwich: Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann, Godfrey, Quintilla; Hernandez (Idah, 62), Skipp, Cantwell (Hugill, 89), McLean, Dowell (Placheta, 24); Pukki.
Subs not used: McGovern, Hugill, Tettey, Gibson, Rupp.
Goals: Pukki (31), Placheta (86)
Yellows: Quintilla (47)
Preston North End: Rudd; Fisher, Bauer, Davies (Potts, 79), Rafferty (Storey, 79); Barkhuizen, Pearson, Browne (Hughes, 79), Ledson, Sinclair; Maguire.
Subs not used: Ripley, Harrop, Gallagher, Hughes, Bodin, Potts.
Goals: Sinclair (13), Fisher (41)
Yellows: Fisher (31), Sinclair (81)