City boss Glenn Roeder could not hide his intense irritation tonight after the Canaries failed to prise all three points out of a ten-man Charlton side.
Chinese international Zheng Zhi had already given the visitors a little deserved lead, before the on-loan Sam Sodje made it two reds in a week for one of the promotion favourites with a dreadful, two-footed lunge in Darel Russell's direction on the half hour mark.
The Reading centre-half was halfway to the tunnel before referee Mick Russell reached for his red card. And with the home side already enjoying by far the greater share of both the possession and the chances, an air of anxious expectation descended on Carrow Road as Norwich went a-gunning for their sixth win in eight outings.
In the event, however, they had to settle for a point apiece courtesy of Russell's opening goal of the season – a fine, glancing header from a 72nd minute Darren Huckerby corner. It was the one and only time that the Canaries managed to prise a well-drilled Charlton unit out of position; otherwise, the nine remaining red shirts and that of keeper Nicky Weaver kept City pretty much at bay.
Minus the injured Mark Fotheringham, Norwich never had quite enough wit or invention about their play to force a winner. A decent Weaver save from a late Ched Evans effort was about the closest they came in a frantic final spell in front of yet another bumper Carrow Road crowd.
“We let them get away with a point, when they should be going home with absolutely nothing,” Roeder said afterwards.
“We totally dominated the game from start to finish – our goalkeeper has only had one thing to do and that's to pick the ball out of the back of the net.”
Roeder could clearly see two points lost as Sodje's early exit – in theory – gave City a glorious opportunity to bag a sixth win in eight starts. In practice, as ever, Norwich might have had more joy had Sodje kept his head and stayed both on his feet and on the pitch. That way Charlton may well have come out to play and therein offered the home side more room to exploit.
One man down and the Addicks simply decamped to the final third. The impressive Jose Semedo found himself hauled back to full-back which while allowing Russell and Pattison greater freedom in the middle, merely gave Huckerby a tougher nut to crack away on the Norwich right; likewise, it gave one-time Town favourite Matt Holland every reason to dig in and organise as if his life depended on it. Not for the first time at Carrow Road, the one-time Republic of Ireland international relished the chance to add a little light rain to Norfolk's festive parade.
“It's hugely frustrating,” said Roeder. “To have that much of the play; that many chances and half chances and only score one goal and only take a point from a team that I feel will probably be back in the Premiership next year.”
Huckerby did all the hard work before sweeping a 15th minute effort over; Matty Pattison dropped an inch-perfect cross onto Jamie Cureton's head only for City's top-scorer to lift an all-too gentle header back into Weaver's arms; Cureton would smash a better effort inches wide; ditto Russell; Mo Camara would sting Weaver's hands with a swerving, 44th minute free-kick; Jason Shackell would force a fine, clawing, one-handed save out of the Addicks' No1 with a first-half header.
Anyone of the above could – and, in certain cases, should – have seen City level by the interval.
“We take a lot of confidence from the performance – that we can compete when we play well with any of the teams in this division, but we're hugely disappointed that we've only taken one point,” said Roeder, refusing to point any fingers of blame at those some might deem responsible for Zhi's 20-yard opener.
He had sold Gary Doherty a complete dummy en route to drilling a low shot inside David Marshall's far upright. But, as Pardew himself noted afterwards, that's what the Chinese skipper can do when he can feign one way and shoot the other – off both feet.
“I get sick and tired of managers who, every goal they concede, they make some excuse – that is was poor defending,” said Roeder, not in one of his more forgiving moods post-match.
“Why don't we sometimes give a 'Well done!' to the guy that scored it and the technique he showed to beat the defender and knock the ball in with a terrific shot?
“No, I don't like conceding any goals but sometimes I think you have to speak your mind and be honest and say: 'Heh, he didn't half do well there…'”
The 'If only…' brigade would bring Fotheringham's name to the fore – in the sense that if there was one person in that current City squad who had the ability to drag ten men out of position by shifting the ball through midfield quickly it would have been the missing City skipper. Alas injury robbed Roeder of that option – and could yet do again for the visit of Wolves on Saturday as the City manager refuses to take a chance on his play-maker's tight hamstring.
“Is he injured? Absolutely,” said Roeder. “He wouldn't go from being captain on Saturday and playing an stormer to not playing today and not even being on the bench.
“He's picked up a tight hamstring and it's debatable whether he'll be fit for Saturday or not,” said the City, playing his 'No chances' card very forcefully.
“I am a manager that will never, ever risk a player that I don't think can complete 90 minutes. I always think it's really poor when managers play players that are coming back from injury and don't even make half-time.
“Because life has taught me that you can't beat Mother Nature and if you're not fit, you're not fit. You will break down. The intensity of the game is so great nowadays you cannot get away with carrying an injury.
“As much as it hurts sometimes not having your best players available through injury, I will never put a player back into action unless I'm absolutely certain that he can get through the 90 minutes if he is required to.”
Likewise, Fotheringham's absence was not an excuse for City's inability to pull the Addicks out of position, far more of an opportunity for others to shine – in this case the recalled Jimmy Smith.
“I thought young Jimmy did well overall,” said Roeder, with the 20-year-old Chelsea youngster due back at Stamford Bridge, in theory, after Saturday's clash with Wolves.
“Again, I never moan about suspensions or injuries,” added the City boss. “Those are the facts of the game. I'd much rather go down the line of it giving someone else the opportunity to play which it did do today.”