Canary keeper David Marshall rescued a big point for the Canaries this afternoon as his superb, spreading save denied Birmingham's master-marksman Kevin Phillips a 90th minute winner and ensured that Norwich's mighty efforts didn't go wholly unrewarded.
To lose in such a heart-breaking fashion as Phillips found himself alone with just the keeper to beat would have been cruel indeed after Darel Russell had once more pulled a home point out of the fire with a sure, 46th minute finish against the Championship leaders.
With Arturo Lupoli pulling them this way and that before the break and Ryan Bertrand looking all the world like an England Under-21 international, Sebastian Larsson's first-half opener was merely the story of City's season as the Blues had barely troubled Marshall beforehand.
Russell's leveller in the bag, the contest remained stuck on a knife edge – right up until Phillips walked through with a one-on-one to win the game. Most would have bet their house on a late heart-breaker, but Scotland's future No1 had other ideas…
City boss Glenn Roeder had muttered on Friday how he figured on the Blues having the strongest squad in the Championship this season and one look at the Blues bench for this afternoon's contest merely reinforced that point.
Garry O'Connor, Gary McSheffrey, Radhi Jaidi, Marcus Bent…. all four would, in all likelihood, figure large in a Norwich starting line-up.
It was, by all accounts, a surprise Birmingham line up as Kemy Augustien made an unexpected start in centre midfield after a less than distinguished debut. Otherwise, it was much as expected with last season's on-loan favourite Martin Taylor handed a warm reception on his return to Carrow Road.
Up front and James McFadden and the ever-green Phillips were likely to grant John Kennedy and Dejan Stefanovic their biggest test yet. It was Phillips who produced the first shot of any note in the fourth minute – a low bobbler that offered Marshall an all-too comfortable save to his right.
Otherwise, it had been a bright and breezy enough start by the home side. They were first to the ball often enough; Lupoli looked sharp on his returning to Roeder's starting thoughts. As ever, the missing link was up-front – someone able to punch their weight and height against the likes of a 'Tiny' Taylor.
Blues simply looked a bigger 'unit'. Russell, in fairness, punched above his weight when he managed to squeeze a tight shot off in the tenth minute under heavy pressure from Taylor. Maik Taylor cleared with an out-stretched leg.
Lupoli kept the crowd on the boil by falling theatrically deep in the Blues box as Sebastian Larsson stepped across him. En route and Bertrand was beginning to enjoy himself in the Norfolk sunshine with another incisive ball in towards the danger zone.
Ditto Lupoli who showed everyone just why Fiorentina might still fancy the 21-year-old with a wonderful pievce of tight control and step-away on the far touchline before dropping a horrible low ball in at Maik Taylor's ankles that the Blues No1 only dealt with at the third attempt as Russell snapped away at the covering defender's ankles. The Italian, like Bertrand, was playing his part.
Lupoli and Taylor, as in 'Tiny', would tangle again through that inside right channel in the 25th minute. Once again the Canary striker fell heavily inside the Blues box; once again it was too heavily for referee Moss' liking. What was more to everyone's liking was Lupoli's snap-shot a minute later from another Bertrand run and cross. It skipped less than a foot wide of an upright as Norwich continued to press.
Foot firmly on the gas, Matty Pattison was next to feed Lupoli. First touch took the ball away from the diving Liam Ridgewell. Alas 'Tiny' was there again to stretch across and slam the door in the Canary striker's face. But he had them rattled. Well rattled.
Eight minutes before the break and skipper Mark Fotheringham got Taylor stretching with a 25-yard curling free-kick. All it lacked was pace; it had flight and direction enough, but the Blues keeper had all the time he needed to pluck it out of the air.
A minute later and the inevitable happened. McFadden's free-kick looked all the world like a shot; it had pace and bend – and Larsson's stooping forehead on the end of it as from some 15-yards out he redirected the ball into Marshall's left-hand corner as the Canary keeper drifted right to cover the intended flight of McFadden's effort.
Rough justice on all concerned – particularly the Lupolis and Bertrands of this world that had spent the first 40 minutes of the game pulling the league leaders this way and that. Once again, however, a smash and a grab later and the Canaries were needing to score twice to rack up their first win of the season.
They did it once within 60 seconds of the restart. Lupoli darted in from the left and looked to have almost over-run the ball – only for it to roll on to a lurking Rusell who, having stepped ahead of his marker, had the composure and conviction to sweetly guide the ball low into the bottom left-hand corner of Taylor's goal.
It was all that Norwich deserved – and all before Blues' half-time substitute Marcus Bent had even touched the ball.
Bent would, however, start to touch the ball all-too often as the hour-mark loomed; the game poised on the proverbial knife-edge. Jamie Cureton arrived in Lupoli's stead; initial consternation at the move was followed by a standing ovation from the home faithful. In fairness, he probably only had an hour in the fitness tank. If Cureton could banish his own goal-getting blues with this afternoon's winner, all would be so much better with Norfolk's world.
It would a big, big result as both Bent and McFadden began to test City's defensive resolve. For now Dejan Stefanovic and John Kennedy held firm. Lee Croft's arrival for Pattison added a welcome directness to Norwich's play. He committed people; kept Blues looking over their shoulder as both sides feared that one mistake now would win it.
Cureton came close, lifting a 12-yard header just over from an 81st minute Croft cross as the nerves started to jangle. Kennedy would drift a header wide from a jon Otsemobor free-kick.
Norwich City (4-4-2): Marshall; Otsemobor, Kennedy, Stefanovic, Bertrand; Hoolahan, Clingan, Fotheringham, Pattison (Croft, 68 mins); Russell, Lupoli (Cureton, 59 mins). Subs (not used): Nelson, Koroma, Archibald-Henville.
Birmingham City (4-4-2): Taylor; Parnaby, Murphy, Taylor, Ridgewell; Larsson, Agustien (McSheffrey, 69 mins), Carsley, Owusu-Abeyie (Bent, 45 mins); McFadden, Phillips. Subs (not used): Doyle, O'Connor, Jaidi.
Man of the Match: Ryan Bertrand.