Norwich City 1, Preston North End 1

A fluffed penalty by Wes Hoolahan cost promotion-chasing Norwich City two vital Championship points against bottom club Preston at Carrow Road.

With the score at 1-1, the Canaries were awarded the 72nd-minute spot-kick when Darren Carter handled Russell Martin's cross-shot But Hoolahan attempted a cheeky chip from the spot and though goalkeeper Iain Turner had moved to his left, he had enough time to recover and make the save.

Ex-Canary striker Chris Brown gave Preston the lead after 59 minutes, within a minute of coming off the bench, though there was a suspicion of handball as he volleyed in following Keith Treacy's free-kick.

But City were level three minutes later when Grant Holt scored his 16th goal of the season, tucking the ball home after Turner had saved Andrew Surman's shot.

Turner made some important saves in a sometimes stormy second half with Preston's time-wasting becoming ridiculous at times, but City could still have won in stoppage time when substitute Aaron Wilbraham sliced a chance into the side netting, and it was certainly two precious points thrown away.

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City boss Paul Lambert kept an unchanged side from the 2-0 win over Barnsley, with Chris Martin, Simon Lappin and long-term casualty Leon Barnett still absent.

For Preston, former Norwich striker Paul Hayes was given a late call-up to the starting eleven when Nathan Ellington was injured in the pre-match warm-up.

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There was another ex-Canary on the bench in striker Chris Brown, but no place in the squad of 18 for former Carrow Road midfielder Darel Russell.

Hoolahan was the victim of two early fouls, the second by Nicholson giving City a free-kick 10 yards into the Preston half, but the offside flag went up as Fox floated the kick in.

There was a real opening in the fifth minute when Hoolahan was put clear on the left by Tierney's header but he checked and squared the pass for Surman, whose shot was blocked by Cort.

Cort was penalised for wrestling Holt off the ball, giving Fox another dead-ball opportunity and although Ward's header went across the area, City regained possession and Fox set up Hoolahan for a left-foot shot that whizzed just past the post.

Johnson had a shot blocked in Preston's first real raid, but Fox was on dead-ball duty again with an ambitious 40-yard drive that went wide.

There was a pause while Nicholson received treatment on the edge of the Preston area after a knock and he was moving very gingerly when he returned to the action.

In the 18th minute, another Hoolahan shot took a deflection off Cort for a corner, and Surman's inswinging kick forced goalkeeper Turner to palm the ball over for another. This time, from Fox's kick, Ward was penalised for shirt-pulling.

Hume was off target with another effort for Preston, but Ruddy had not been overworked in the first quarter of the match.

Gray finally forced Ruddy into action as he dived to his right to make the save.

Russell Martin had to concede a corner after Johnson had eluded Ward, but Preston wasted two flag-kicks before City broke through Hoolahan.

He paused before picking out Surman on the left and Lansbury just managed to get his toe to the midfielder's cross but could not get any power behind his shot.

A cross from Russell Martin whistled across the six-yard box after another neat passing move, but was just too strong for Holt to get a touch.

Another Martin cross was headed clear by St Ledger but only as far as Fox, whose left-foot shot was just the wrong side of the post.

Eight minutes before the break, Nicholson's injury got the better of him and he made way for Treacy.

Treacy was soon into the action, getting the better of Martin, but his cross was cut out by a solid header by Ward.

The tempo of the game had dropped by the interval and referee Pawson blew just as Russell Martin let fly with a long-range effort.

• HALF-TIME: Norwich City 0, Preston North End 0

Whitbread was in trouble two minutes after the break when he jumped to head clear and landed awkwardly, flat on his back. He needed a couple of minutes' treatment and walked off clutching his side and looking very uncomfortable, before returning to the action.

Lansbury had a shot blocked as City pressed forward again and the ball looped into the air before Turner punched clear.

Lansbury was booked when he caught Jones with a flailing arm, a challenge that seemed to anger his Preston team-mates.

Ten minutes after the break, Whitbread had to make way for loan centre-half Edwards, making his debut for the Canaries.

Tierney was limping, too, by this stage but it was Preston who made the next change with one ex-Canary replacing another - Brown for Hayes.

Within a minute, Brown had made a dramatic impact by giving Preston the lead against his former club.

He was fortunate to be awarded a free-kick for a challenge by Ward, who suffered a bloody nose in the process. Treacy thumped the free-kick into the wall, but as the ball rebounded, Treacy floated it back and Brown controlled it at the far post and volleyed in.

There was a suspicion of handball from Brown but City were level inside three minutes when Holt scored his 16th goal of the season.

Fox found Surman inside the Preston area and although his shot was well saved by Turner, Holt sidefooted home from the rebound.

A late challenge by Jones on Martin sparked an angry exchange between the two players and infuriated the home crowd and both were shown the yellow card.

There was a double change as Wright replaced Cort for Preston and Lambert sent on Wilbraham for Surman.

The game had become more bad-tempered and Tierney was next to complain to the referee after having blood on his face.

Holt was booked 20 minutes from time when he went down in the Preston area under challenge from substitute Wright, with City appealing for a penalty.

But City did indeed get a penalty in the 72nd minute when Carter blocked Russell Martin's shot with his raised arm and referee Pawson pointed to the spot.

Hoolahan spurned the opportunity for his 10th goal of the season, however, when he attempted to float the ball in cheekily from the penalty and although Turner had moved to his left, he was able to readjust and make a catch.

Turner made an important save from Hoolahan moments later as he tried to atone for his penalty miss.

St Ledger almost restored Preston's lead from a corner by Hume when his close-range effort was blocked by Ward and Ruddy was able to grab the ball.

Preston's time wasting had been taken to extremes in the second half and the home crowd vented their anger.

With nine minutes left, Jackson replaced Lansbury in City's final change.

Hume was booked for a foul on Tierney six minutes from time but there was a further delay when Gray went down injured. The delay was considerable as Gray was treated on the pitch while City waited to take the free-kick. The stretcher was brought on but Gray was helped off without needing it and Preston were down to 10 men.

With Gray eventually carried off, an additional six minutes were signalled by the fourth official.

Jackson had a header saved from Hoolahan's cross, and Wilbraham missed a golden opportunity when he sliced a shot into the side netting.

• RESULT: Norwich City 1, Preston North End 1

• Norwich City: Ruddy; Russell Martin, Ward, Whitbread (Edwards, 55), Tierney; Lansbury (Jackson, 81), Crofts, Fox, Surman (Wilbraham, 65); Hoolahan; Holt. Subs (not used): Rudd, Drury, Gill, Korey Smith.

• Preston North End: Turner; Gray, Cort (Wright, 65), St Ledger, Jones; Nicholson (Treacy, 37), Ashbee, Carter; Hume; Hayes (Brown, 58), Johnson. Subs (not used): Arestidou, Barton, Parry, Mayor.

• Referee: Craig Pawson

• Attendance: 25,572

• Goals: Holt (62). Preston: Brown (59)

• Bookings: City: Lansbury (54), Russell Martin (64), Holt (70), Wilbraham (73). Preston: Jones (64), Hume (84)

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