Preston 3 Norwich City 1: Canaries downed by inspired Declan Rudd in Championship defeat
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City were thwarted by Canaries' old boy Declan Rudd in a 3-1 Championship defeat to Alex Neil's Preston at Deepdale on Wednesday night.
Rudd saved Marco Stiepermann's penalty and made a series of impressive stops on a night to forget for Daniel Farke's promotion contenders.
Ben Davies headed the hosts in front in the second minute before Paul Gallagher slotted from the penalty spot.
Stiepermann saw his effort from 12 yards saved prior to the interval and despite a strong start to the second half Preston sealed the points throguh Sean Magurie before Teemu Pukki's late consolation.
City got off to the worst possible start when Tettey's sloppy touch sparked the first home counter. Teemu Pukki then conceded a free kick tight to the right touchline and from Paul Gallgher's delivery, Ben Davies rose powerfully at the near post to head past Tim Krul from eight yards.
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Declan Rudd had strode purposefully to the centre circle when the teams emerged on the occasion of his 100th league appearance for North End.
The man from Diss had spoken in the build up about his desire to get the better of his boyhood club. There was a smart stop in the ninth minute when Pukki raced onto Emi Buendia's pass to guide an angled shot destined for his far corner before Rudd stuck out a right boot.
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Preston's attacking ambition was affording City a chance to clear their heads and probe on the counter. Marco Stiepermann turned on halfway but Ben Pearson was quickly around on the cover.
Krul then clutched Brad Potts' sliced effort at the other end with Gallagher again prominent.
Buendia slalomed his way through, following a flowing counter from the Canaries, but Stiepermann had applied the brakes when he coaxed a ball into the heart of Rudd's six yard box.
City survived a major scare in the 19th minute after Tom Barkhuizen burst free before teeing up Potts, who slammed a 25 yard strike flush against Krul's crossbar.
Farke had seen enough midway through the first period. Max Aarons was re-deployed on the left with Jamal Lewis and Ben Godfrey flanking Christoph Zimmermann in a defensive three.
But before City had a chance to re-adjust they fell further behind. Buendia failed to track Darnell Fisher's run into the Norwich penalty area before Fisher went down under the Argentine's challenge inside his own area.
Referee Eltringham had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot with Buendia bearing the look of a guilty man as he trooped towards the away fans.
Gallagher smashed the spot kick past Krul, who did guess correctly but was beaten by the power.
Pukki tried to carry the fight in the immediate aftermath, cutting infield but drilling a shot into the side netting.
City, however, appeared to be handed a lifeline when Ben Pearson rashly careered through the back of Onel Hernandez to even up the penalty count.
Stiepermann stepped up but Rudd threw himself to his right to beat away the German's effort.
Preston continued to surge forward with the air of a side who knew they had the Canaries exactly where they wanted them.
Farke's men looked jaded after their derby exertions. Godfrey won a thumping header to get Pukki on the half turn shortly prior to the interval but Hernandez was crowded out as the yellow shirts flooded into the box.
The City chief turned to Jordan Rhodes for the start of the second period, with Tom Trybull making way.
Stiepermann found a pocket of space in the 47th minute but his shot lacked the venom to test Rudd.
Pukki then embarked on one of those drifting diagonal runs behind the centre back to collect Stiepermann's reverse ball but his shot was shovelled behind by Rudd at his near post.
The Finn then latched onto Alan Browne's woeful back pass but Rudd did enough to usher City's dangerman away from his goal.
Despite the deficit, there was a sense the momentum was starting to tilt as the anxiety levels rose among the home fans. Stiepermann's delicious cushioned ball set Pukki free again on the hour mark but his shot was deflected behind.
Hernandez was the latest denied by Rudd in the 64th minute when he kicked the striker's sidefooted effort off his line.
The former City academy starlet excelled himself again seconds later to tip over Ben Godfrey's thumping far post header from close range.
But in the midst of that gathering pressure, Preston struck the decisive blow. Alan Browne's stunning long range volley cannoned off Krul's bar and Sean Maguire composed himself to slot the rebound.
Pukki did finally earn what was little more than a scant consolation when he smashed home Rhodes' flick from Kenny McLean's deep cross in stoppage time.
• Preston North End: Rudd, Fisher, Pearson, Davies, Browne, Gallagher (Johnson 61), Storey, Hughes, Maguire (Stockley 77), Barkhuizen (Nmecha 67), Potts. Subs (not used): Crowe (GK), Earl, Clarke, Ledson.
• Bookings: Pearson (foul on Hernandez, 32); Nmecha (unsporting behaviour, 72); Rudd (unsporting behaviour, 90)
• Goals: Davies (2), Gallagher (24), Maguire (69)
• Norwich City: Krul, Aarons, Zimmermann, Godfrey, Lewis, Trybull (Rhodes 45), Tettey, Buendia, Stiepermann (McLean 73), Hernandez (Passlack 84), Pukki. Subs (not used): McGovern (GK), Hanley, Cantwell, Srbeny.
• Bookings: Zimmermann (foul on Maguire, 36); Rudd (unsporting behaviour, 90)
• Goal: Pukki (90)
• Time added on: 2 minutes / 4minutes
• Referee: Geoff Eltringham (Durham)
• Attendance: 11,280 (880 away fans)