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David Wagner insists job ‘isn’t done’ yet after Norwich win late on at Preston

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 13 Apr 2024

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Boss David Wagner warned Norwich cannot let up in their bid for a Championship play-off place despite moving six points clear with a late 1-0 win at Preston.

Gabriel Sara struck in the 86th minute to bag a crucial victory for the Canaries against their promotion rivals on a day where fellow contenders Coventry and Middlesbrough also dropped points.

Seventh-placed Hull have a game in hand on Norwich but Wagner’s side are in pole position to secure that final spot after an excellent performance at Deepdale.

A goalkeeper masterclass from Freddie Woodman prevented Norwich from striking earlier – he made four excellent first-half saves – but Sara’s fifth goal in seven matches broke the deadlock.

“We’re a step closer [securing a play-off place] but it isn’t done,” Wagner said.

“We have some further work to do but seven points from our last three games – and three top performances – is fantastic.

“We’re all a bit exhausted but we have a couple of days off now and we can’t wait to get back to Carrow Road against Bristol City.”

In a game packed with chances, Woodman kept Preston in it. He first saved from Borja Sainz before denying Ashley Barnes from close range.

Sara went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock but again Woodman did well to collect a fizzing 25-yard volley while he then stopped Sara in first-half stoppage time.

Preston had plenty of chances of their own, with Norwich stopper Angus Gunn thwarting Jordan Storey from close range.

“We deserved the win, performance-wise we looked very mature, very calm and very composed,” Wagner added.

“Unfortunately we had to wait quite a long time [to win it] but I have the feeling we deserved the goal.

“It was important to keep cool heads and to keep the crowd on a low. How the players executed the plan was just great.

“Unfortunately we didn’t use our opportunities [in the game], even though there were not a lot of them.

“But I thought we were always in control, even though some of our final passes and final touches could have been a bit better.

“We defended super, super well. We gave them more or less nothing apart from set-pieces.

“We knew they would be a threat on set-pieces but the players were competitive and it was a top performance.

“I’m over the moon about the result and the clean sheet as well. In possession we were composed even though we didn’t execute clearcut chances but we always looked in control.”

Preston dropped to 10th and are now eight points off sixth place, although they have four games left.

“It’s mixed emotions, really,” said manager Ryan Lowe.

“Disappointed with the result, pleased and proud of the boys for everything they have given all season.

“We have fallen a little bit short. It hasn’t been for the lack of trying, effort, desire or commitment – everything I like was definitely there.

“It is that final bit, in both boxes, isn’t it? But, as I say, I am always proud of the boys.

“I thought we were the better team really, if I am being honest – especially first half, we had some good moments.

“In the second half they had the ball a bit more; we were ready to pounce and go.”

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