City winger Lee Croft was once again left to rue the one that got away as the Canaries looked back on the frustration that was Hull City (h).
The stage was all set for another rip-roaring night under new Canary boss Glenn Roeder – a bumper and expectant full house, a first sighting of Arsenal starlet Kieran Gibbs and, of course, a chance to salute the Rocket Man, Ched Evans, on his return from South Wales with that goal of the season to add to his growing collection.
It was, as ever, all just a little too good to be true.
Dion Dublin's first-half opener may have been just what the occasion demanded. Thereafter, however, and events didn't quite fall Norwich's way.
Gibbs would prove largely anonymous; Evans would barely get a sniff of the Tigers' goal; Matthew Bates would pick up a worrying knee knock; Hull would score a scruffy leveller and slam ten players behind the ball. It was just one of those nights.
In the end, the saving grace was the fact that City stretched their unbeaten run to 13 and remain with their sights firmly fixed on barging their way into the top six. The bottom three is, just about, someone else's problem.
And in the midst of it all, there was that one chance for Croft to put the game out of it's misery as he took aim just inside the Tigers' box. His 15-yard effort was hit sweetly enough and, indeed, had at least one Hull defender hiding it's line of flight. Alas Hull keeper Boaz Myhill was not to be beaten as he flung himself off to his right and punched the ball away and round his right upright.
His on-going quest to double his tally for the season and add to that solitary goal in the 3-1 home defeat by Watford continues.
“He pulled off a great save – and if that goes in it's 2-0 and maybe it's a different story,” said Croft, whose own individual performances of late richly deserve to be capped with a second goal. Barnsley (a), Palace (a) and Southampton (a), the chances have all come and gone with either the woodwork or an in-form keeper denying the Canary winger.
For now, however, and the 22-year-old was looking more at the team picture and, by and large, agreeing with Roeder's opinion that 1-1 was probably a fair result.
“It's swings and roundabouts,” said Croft, after watching his own keeper more than match Myhill's heroics with an even better finger-tip stop of his own.
“Marshy's made a great save off their lad and a bit of a scruffy breakthrough and they nick an equaliser. We wanted to win the game, but at least we've not lost,” said the one-time Manchester City youth product, cheered by the fact that Norwich had already picked up three points this week with that 2-1 away win at Cardiff.
Four points from two games; that's still promotion form isn't it?
“Exactly – and maybe you would have took that. But the way we've been going, we want to win every game. And that's a sign of how far we've come – that we're bitterly disappointed that we've not won a game,” he said.
The fact that Norwich had got their noses in front – and all against a side that had set their stall out for a point with that 4-5-1 formation – merely added to a heavy sense of disappointment.
“Especially after taking the lead – we really wanted to win the game,” said Croft, honest enough to admit that City didn't quite hit their free-flowing heights of, say, Leicester at home. The re-match, of course, arrives at the Walkers Stadium this weekend.
“We didn't play as well as we could. Especially at the beginning of the second-half; it turned into bit of a stalemate; they got bit of a scruffy equaliser. But saying that Marsh has made a great save to keep it to 1-0.
“It just shows how far we've come, as I say, that we've drawn a game and we're bitterly disappointed. We're just going to have to make sure that we go away at the weekend and make sure we get a win – or get a result at Leicester.”
According to Hull boss Phil Brown, 1-1 was a “fantastic result”. Croft was well aware of the smiles in the opposing dressing room.
“I think you could tell that they were really happy with a point – I think they came for it. But we wanted the three to keep pushing on,” he said, as Roeder tried to keep his own troops bright and bubbly for the fight to come.
“But as the gaffer said the unbeaten run is still there. We've not lost a game which was important so we'll keep going.”
Again, the fact that teams of Hull's ilk set their stall out to nick a point says much.
“It is a compliment but it can be frustrating at times as well when they come out and they're quite defensive. But I thought in the first-half we did alright; not at our best, but we did alright. Second-half was just scrappy really and just disappointing knowing that we've dropped two points,” added Croft.