Here is Connor’s verdict on David Wagner’s Norwich City, who dug deep to record a colossal 1-0 victory over play-off chasing rivals Preston North End on Saturday.

• Angus Gunn            6

Not an afternoon that required City's shot-stopper to produce saves worthy of the highlight reel, but it was a test of his abilities to command his area and usher the troops. 

He got drawn to a deep cross from Robbie Brady that Liam Lindsay headed back across goal, but fortunately, Ashley Barnes was first to the loose ball, with the City keeper out of position and his goal. 

One moment late on saw him flap at the ball after charging off his goal line from a corner, but it didn't prove costly in the final analysis. A 12th clean sheet of the season - only four keepers have more in the division. 

• Jack Stacey              6

Trademark darts up the touchline provided the width for Norwich in possession, allowing Sara to overload and create a numerical advantage in central areas. 

A reliable performance that saw him compete consistently with Robbie Brady and provide a series of key interceptions to halt him from reaching crossing positions. His best moment came in the 62nd minute when a burst and cross led to a Norwich corner. 

It was not a performance with the same headline-grabbing stardust that saw him shine against Ipswich, but he played a key part in a City backline that kept the backdoor shut. 

• Shane Duffy              8 

A return to the starting XI after a midweek rest for Norwich's trip to Sheffield Wednesday and back to his best in this encounter. 

His commanding header to win the first duel with Will Keane set the tone for a performance that saw him win three aerial duels, one ground duel and complete 40 of his 49 passes during the contest. 

Managed to keep the lively Milutin Osmajic quiet throughout, winning a key footrace before the interval to a ball in behind into touch and then a clever header on 43 minutes to find McLean after a long pass forward. 

Commanding and assured - he looks much more comfortable in matches where defensive fundamentals rather than distribution is required. 

• Ben Gibson                7

Another quietly impressive display from the experienced defender - sporting a Terry Butcher-like a bandage around his head after a collision at Hillsborough on Tuesday. 

Like Duffy, marshalled Preston's host of striking options well. Positioned himself well in the box to hook Duane Holmes' cross away from danger in the 17th minute. A miscommunication with Sam McCallum led to him handballing to prevent Keane from getting in behind. 

Made some important interventions throughout, especially to recover well to clear Holmes' low cross in the 49th minute. Seven clearances, three interceptions and one block show his importance to City's rearguard action.

• Sam McCallum      6

Enjoyed a tussle with Holmes throughout the afternoon - with mixed results throughout. 

An early cross from the left was held by Woodman with plenty of options in positive positions. Recovered well to win a throw-in from a misjudged bounce of the ball that allowed Osmajic to collect in behind. 

One lovely clipped pass into Barnes' path in the second half that the Norwich man was unable to convert into a goal-scoring opportunity. Two huge blocks at the end of either half showed his commitment. Squandered possession on 12 occasions. Looked more comfortable with Jon Rowe for protection. 

• Kenny McLean      8

City's metronome during a performance that required control. The highlight was an exquisite pinpoint pass that found Sara in the build-up to the late winner. Given the limited amount of space to play the ball into, it was expertly executed to find the Brazilian. 

An energetic presence who helped ease pressure with some impressive ball-carrying up the pitch, particularly in the second half and played a major role in guarding against transitional moments. 

One clearance off the line after a penalty box scramble from a set-play in the 50th minute. Led by example and constant cajoling of the troops throughout the afternoon. 

Eastern Daily Press: Marcelino Nunez helped Norwich City establish control in the second half.Marcelino Nunez helped Norwich City establish control in the second half. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

• Marcelino Nunez                    8

Played a huge role in establishing the level of control that Norwich mustered in the second period particularly. 

Even withstanding that - made eight of Norwich's 12 tackles in the contest and completed more passes than anyone on the pitch. Dropped into the defensive line to create a back three and played an influential role in City's build-up phases. 

Met a cutback from Sara's free-kick on the 62nd minute, only to blaze the effort over the bar emphatically. An effective offering from the midfielder. 

• Gabby Sara                9

Star man, In a game requiring magic to settle it, he produced the goods. Audacious turn to take two Preston defenders out of the game before sitting down Lindsay and finding the bottom corner via a deflection from Woodman for his 12th league goal of the campaign. 

Carried a threat throughout the entire contest, testing Woodman with two efforts in the first half including an audacious volley from a wide right position before stinging his hands with a low drive that required pushing around the post. 

Was unable to find the target on 47 minutes after a free-flowing Norwich move. Five key passes. Making a late charge for Player of the Season contention. 

• Ashley Barnes          ­­              7

Mixed display for the experienced forward in a wider attacking offering that lacked cohesion for large portions. 

Was unable to get Sargent's pass under control after 21 minutes that would have moved them up the pitch. Made a series of important defensive interventions, the most important coming to clear Lindsay's header across goal after Brady's corner in the first half. 

Saw a shot within the opening few minutes blocked. Then had a fierce effort caught by Woodman after good work from Sara to force a high turnover on 27 minutes. Unable to bring McCallum's lofted pass under full control in the second period. 

• Borja Sainz                6

Quiet afternoon for the usually electric Spaniard, who was unable to cast his spell on this tight encounter. 

Displayed some excellent counterpressing throughout his period on the pitch. His out-to-in run created an opening that was picked out by Sara, only for his first-time improvised volley to be unable to catch out Woodman. 

Fierce effort from range tested the Preston goalkeeper. Booked for a foul in the first half, something Wagner took under consideration before replacing him in the second period. Faded as the game wore on. 

• Josh Sargent                6

He beat a quad issue to start this encounter, and it was perhaps his quietest outing since his return from injury. 

Best chance came after Sainz's blocked effort looped into the air. Did well to roll Andrew Hughes but uncharacteristically failed to hit the target. 

Eastern Daily Press: Jon Rowe played his first minutes for Norwich City since a hamstring injury in February.Jon Rowe played his first minutes for Norwich City since a hamstring injury in February. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)


• Jon Rowe (for Sainz, 72)              7

A lively cameo from the comeback kid in his first minutes since suffering a hamstring injury in February's draw with QPR. First action saw him get in behind and ask questions. Injected energy and intensity into City's attacking work that helped them grow in confidence. Picking up where he left off. 

• Danny Batth (for Barnes, 90)          N/A

• Sydney van Hooijdonk (for Sargent, 90+2)              N/A

First appearance in four matches from the bench