Chris Hughton’s Canaries made it eight games unbeaten tonight after nicking another big, away point – this time at an in-form Southampton.
Rickie Lambert’s 32nd minute opener for the home side was wiped out by Robert Snodgrass’ softest of levellers seconds before the interval as Norwich built on that point at Everton at the weekend with another one at St Mary’s.
Since losing 4-1 away at Chelsea on the opening weekend of October, City have now won four and drawn four of their last eight contests – included in which is the Capital One Cup success at home to Spurs.
In Premier League terms taking 13 points from the last available 21 is solid, mid-table stuff. Victory over visiting Sunderland this weekend and given the tightness of that middle pack, the Norfolk side might almost gain sight of the top half of the table. Heady, heady stuff – particularly for those that feared the worst after Paul Lambert’s summer exit.
The evening hadn’t started well with news that City’s first-choice keeper John Ruddy would be out for up to three months with a torn thigh muscle.
The England international walked gingerly off the pitch at Goodison on Saturday with eight minutes of the contest remaining. At the time, boss Hughton suggested it was more pre-cautionary; that the Canary keeper could have seen the game through.
Subsequent scans have clearly revealed a greater degree of damage than first anticipated.
Indeed, Ruddy himself revealed that surgery was now required to repair the muscle damage.
“Just to update everyone on my injury, unfortunately I have torn my thigh and will be having surgery on Saturday and out for up to three months,” Ruddy told his legions of Twitter followers tonight.
Over to you, Mark Bunn… The former Blackburn stopper can take big heart from tonight’s latest big point. He looks £1 million well spent; even if it came at the expense of the immediate first team ambitions of the clubs two youngsters, Declan Rudd and Jed Steer.
Keeper woes weren’t solely confined to Norfolk, however, for the Canaries had the helping hands of young Saints keeper Paulo Gazzaniga to thank for their leveller on the stroke of half-time as Snodgrass’ low and hopeful free-kick somehow skipped straight beneath the home keeper and then on, and up, into the back of the net.
Miss Fortune clearly has a little soft spot for Norwich of late. It was – as ever – the perfect time to score a goal and to leave Nigel Adkins’ half-time speech in tatters. And Southampton’s 20-year-old keeper with some explaining to do. It wasn’t the fiercest free-kick the Canary winger will ever aim goalwards.
Lambert had – almost inevitably – opened the scoring 13 minutes earlier as the home side continued with the bright, attacking form they have demonstrated of late.
For their part, Norwich were more graft than craft as midfielder Alexander Tettey dug in in front of an unchanged back four from the 1-1 draw at Everton and continued to impress after the break as City finally started to enjoy a greater share of the ball.
Grant Holt and Wes Hoolahan would almost tee up Anthony Pilkington; Snodgrass would have been better advised to kick than head a Javier Garrido cross on 57 minutes; Gazzaniga would react well to deny a Holt header ten minutes later.
Chances continued to flow in what proved to be a bright and inventive contest; it was always going to be thus given the nature of the two managers and their respective commitment to making the game entertaining for the paying punters.
Those that had travelled the furthest on a mid-week night were almost rewarded with a penalty in the 83rd minute as Saints full-back Luke Shaw clattered into the back of Snodgrass deep in the penalty area. Ball first was the suggestion from subsequent replays, but for a moment Norwich sniffed further late dramas.
In the end, there were none. Such as they were, the drama was confined to the opening 45 minutes. But another point had; another game unbeaten. And Sunderland at home on Sunday. Not the worst set of stats to ponder on the long haul home.