Manager Daniel Farke paid tribute to his side’s small group of fans at Carrow Road after Norwich twice came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw against Preston.
The game was one of the EFL’s test events for bringing supporters back to football grounds during the ongoing battle against Covid-19, with 1,000 season-ticket holders coming through a ballot to attend.
They were treated to a spirited fightback from their team, with a second equaliser from Przemyslaw Placheta coming five minutes from the end.
Farke felt an overdue boost of a crowd, however small, helped his side add a hard-earned point to their opening-day win at Huddersfield.
He said: “It certainly felt there were more than 1,000 fans here, that’s for sure.
“A lot of things went against us in the game but the lads kept going and I think having supporters in the ground helped them a lot. There was plenty of noise and that was a big influence on the game.
“The early feedback I have is that everything went very and hopefully it won’t be long before more supporters are back. We have certainly missed them.”
Preston took the lead with a 14th-minute Scott Sinclair penalty after Oliver Skipp had been adjudged to tug Ben Davies in the box and Farke was delighted with the way his side responded to what he felt was a poor decision from referee John Brooks.
He added: “It was never a penalty in my opinion. It was just the smallest player on the pitch trying to win the ball against a big centre-half.
“Bearing in mind that decision and the fact we lost a player [Kieran Dowell] early through injury, I thought the lads showed a lot of character, even though we didn’t play as well as we can do.
“We twice came back, created a lot of chances, and I think overall we deserved the three points. We very nearly won the game in injury time when Teemu Pukki was denied by a great save by the keeper.
“It was a little bit disappointing in the end but we were up against a good Preston side who I think will be challenging for a play-off place at the very least.
“At the end of the day I will take a point to go with the three we picked up at Huddersfield on the opening day.”
Norwich scored their first equaliser after 31 minutes, with Declan Rudd fumbling Pukki’s header into his own net, only for the visitors to go ahead again three minutes before the break when Darnel Fisher blasted home a loose ball in the box.
The Canaries went on to have the better of the second period and got back on level terms in the 85th minute when Polish substitute Placheta coolly volleyed past Rudd after a spell of pinball in the visitors’ box.
Preston boss Alex Neil felt that goal, which followed hard on the heels of a glaring miss by the same player, was hard on his team.
He said: “I was a little bit disappointed at the end to be honest.
“I thought we were the better side overall and although we didn’t create a lot of clear-cut opportunities over the course of the game, I thought we were the ones who deserved to win it.
“But the fact that we have come away from a place like Norwich feeling hard done by after drawing a game is a good sign I think.
“Norwich are a very good side but I thought we more than matched them. It was a good solid performance from the lads with everyone playing their part.
“It’s a shame we let a goal in near the end which looked a though it had a bit of handball about it in the build-up but we’ll take a point and move on.”
Neil felt the supporters in the ground had had a positive influence on proceedings as he returned to his former club.
He added: “I like having the fans back – it certainly adds a lot to the game. At no point did I feel the game was flat because the supporters in the ground made plenty of noise.
“Obviously I would have liked some of our fans there as well but we all know that can’t happen at the moment.
“I’d love to see fans allowed in at every game but obviously it’s not easy because the situation changes depending where you are in the country. I’m just glad I don’t have to make the decision.”
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