Norwich City’s Carrow Road woes continued this evening as Neil Adams’ flat-lining Canaries were held to a 1-1 draw by visitors Leeds United.
Without a win in their last four home games, 59th minute header from skipper Russell Martin appeared all set to right a few of those wrongs as the Canaries dominated every stat going.
But little more than four minutes later and Leeds had plundered an unlikely leveller and the Norfolk side were back to pondering the might-have-beens as they slipped deeper into the play-off pack.
Derby’s 1-0 away win at Blackpool left the Rams the new league leaders – four points clear of City in fifth.
And whilst there remains an eternity to go, that late summer momentum is going. The goals that once flowed freely are now down to a trickle – even if the home side did register 20-plus strikes on target as they pressed manfully for the full 90 minutes to try and make their home advantage count.
Getting more than one of said strikes to count is proving hard, hard work.
And nor could the manager add a clean sheet to his wish-list. Conceding so soon after taking that priceless lead is the stuff of managerial grey hairs. Don’t switch off after you score is a mantra hammered in from the youth team up.
Before kick-off and Adams had placated some of his critics by making three changes to the side that suffered another miserable afternoon at Craven Cottage at the weekend.
One was enforced in the shape of Hoolahan’s disappearance with an ankle ligament injury; two, however, were all of the manager’s own making as Kyle Lafferty replaced spot-kick villain Lewis Grabban, whilst Jonny Howson was handed the chance to add a bit more guile to the City centre midfield in place of his fellow Leeds old boy Bradley Johnson.
No surprises as to who replaced the struggling Wesley as youngster Josh Murphy grabbed a rare starting opportunity.
The Howson-Tettey pairing looked to offer a bit of everything in the middle of the park and in Nathan Redmond and Master Murphy Norwich had youthful flair and pace on either flank.
On paper, it was what most punters would have wanted after City’s recent fall from top of the table grace.
As ever, of course, it was what happened in reality that mattered most as the Canaries looked to restore a little belief in their promotion credentials under their former Youth team boss.
In fairness, City delivered one of their better opening 45s with both Lafferty and Howson doing enough to justify their starting roles.
Redmond would trick and treat down the flank and seek out Lafferty’s head on a number of occasions; for now the pace and the whip on the cross found the latter struggling to meet the ball with any great conviction.
But Norwich were brighter and better than of late and at least they had yet to concede a goal.
When the goal – the Norwich goal – did come it wasn’t from one of the usual suspects as Martin found himself latching onto yet another Redmond cross following a 59th minute corner and guiding the ball into the top corner.
Cue relief all round as Norwich finally managed to make large swathes of possession count and Adams began to hope that his side’s recent travails in front of the home faithful were about to end.
This was a night when the result meant everything. How City got there would b something for the armchair generals to ruminate on. If they got there.
As ever in the Championship, this was all about getting over the line with all three points to your name.
In the event Adams relief lasted no more than four minutes before Souleymane Doukara levelled. Oops. As in a big, fat oops.
Adams’ night wasn’t helped by an injury to the luckless Lafferty deep in the second-half. Whilst Hoolahan’s ankle ligament injury might not have been as bad as first feared, with Grabban ‘not himself’ at the weekend, the City chief might have hoped this could have been the start of a run of games for the ex-Palermo man.
No such luck, it would seem. Miss Fortune is at home to Mr Adams right now. He needs a break – and is not getting them.
It did give summer signing Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe a run out – much to the delight of radio commentators and copy-takers the world over.
Huff and puff as they might, Leeds dug in for the point. As most teams will.
Job done as far as the Yorkshire side were concerned. Big job still to do was the Norfolk view of things.
Managerial life isn’t getting any easier for Mr Adams.