Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Norwich City were forced to settle for a Premier League point in a frustrating 1-1 draw against ten-man Stoke City at Carrow Road.
Bradley Johnson headed home just before the hour mark in a game of sporadic attacking intent but Jonathan Walters levelled from the penalty spot after Seb Bassong upended John Guidetti. Walters’ joy was short-lived when he was dismissed five minutes later for a studs-up challenge on Alex Tettey but the Canaries never remotely threatened to make the most of their numerical advantage for the final stages.
Chris Hughton made one change to the starting line up that crashed 4-1 in the Premier League at Aston Villa - Ricky van Wolfswinkel returned after missing the trip to Villa Park with a knee injury for Gary Hooper. Wes Hoolahan retained his place after a build up dominated by the fallout from his understated goal celebration in the West Midlands last weekend against the club who tried to sign him in January.
Jonny Howson had to settle for a place on the bench but Joseph Yobo and Martin Olsson were included in the Norwich backline after missing out on international duty in midweek for their respective countries. Hughton elected not to draft centre back Ryan Bennett into his matchday squad.
Prior to kick-off Janette Forbes movingly thanked the club and the fans for their support of ‘Duncan’s Day’ with all profits from the matchday programme and collection buckets outside the ground raising funds for her husband and the Canary legend’s on-going battle with Alzheimer’s.
Robert Snodgrass drew an early free kick from Erik Pieters but the Potters’ defence dealt comfortably with the Scot’s deep delivery. Snodgrass fared little better in the sixth minute from the opposite flank after Geoff Cameron conceded a needless free kick with a blatant shove on the midfielder.
Peter Crouch dragged tamely at John Ruddy 16 yards out in the first moment of alarm for the hosts after the ball had ricocheted into the one-time Norwich trainee’s path.
Hughton’s side then enjoyed another escape when Pieters picked out the unmarked Marko Arnautovic but his one-touch control was not matched by a wayward half-volley over Ruddy’s bar from inside the home penalty area.
Crouch then fended off Yobo to feed Peter Odemwingie who picked out Walters to test Ruddy from long range. Stoke continued to dictate the flow of the opening quarter, much to the growing frustration of the home fans, but Hoolahan led a counter which saw Olsson screw wide from 20 yards after Alex Tettey had recycled the ball.
Redmond then slalomed his way past three back-pedalling Stoke defenders before rolling in Snodgrass but the midfielder tamely clipped the side netting. Bassong bailed out his side when Crouch dropped deep yet again to pick out Steven Nzonzi’s overlapping run with a sliding challenge to earn a home goal kick.
Asmir Begovic denied Snodgrass in the 29th minute with a parry to keep out his angled shot following a wonderful piece of invention from Hoolahan to clip a pass in behind Stoke’s rearguard.
Van Wolfswinkel cleverly re-directed Snodgrass’ near post corner seconds later but none of his team mates were on the same wavelength as the ball rolled across the face of Begovic’s six yard box before Bassong climbed above Ryan Shawcross to power a header over.
Arnautovic dragged a 20-yard free kick wide of Ruddy’s far post five minutes before the break after Bassong flicked out a leg to halt Odemwingie’s dribble. Hoolahan unleashed a 25-yard strike Begovic gathered under his own bar in the final seconds of the opening period.
Snodgrass attempted to get the hosts on the front foot in the early skirmishes after the interval but Norwich survived half-hearted Stoke penalty appeals when Odemwingie tumbled under Tettey’s attentions. Potters’ boss Mark Hughes led the chorus from the away technical area but referee Marriner was unmoved.
Begovic spilled Hoolahan’s long range strike in the 53rd minute but recovered his composure to claw behind as the ball spiralled towards his goal line.
Johnson rose above Shawcross to despatch Snodgrass’ 57th minute free kick to power Norwich in front in a reprise of the double act that secure a Premier League home win over the Potters last season.
Redmond almost repeated his midweek goalscoring exploits for England’s Under-21s in the 61st minute when he cut inside Cameron and hammered a rising shot Begovic went full length to save.
Howson replaced Hoolahan in the 67th minute with the Irishman departing to warm applause from the home fans.
Snodgrass backed Pieters into his own box but an attempted curler brushed Shawcross and Stoke cleared their lines. Cameron deserved his yellow card for crudely cutting down Redmond in full flight with Norwich now looking to threaten on the counter.
Stoke were handed a lifeline in the 72nd minute when Bassong rashly cleaned out Guidetti inside the home penalty area. Walters stepped up to fire a confident spot kick past Ruddy but the former Ipswich striker was dismissed for a straight red card five minutes later for catching Tettey with a studs up challenge that caught the Norwegian on the right knee.
Tettey was unable to continue in a flurry of substitutes with Hooper and Johan Elmander replacing the injured midfielder and van Wolfswinkel while Hughes reacted to Walters’ dismissal by hooking second half arrival Guidetti.
Elmander linked with Hooper immediately but the former Celt’s first time hit spiralled into the terracing. Bassong robbed Crouch but Johnson was unable to double his tally with a wayward left-footed shot from long range. Norwich tried to pin the Potters inside their own half for the final few minutes but the Canaries’ laboured efforts failed to make the most of their numerical advantage.
• Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, Yobo, Bassong, Olsson, Snodgrass, Tettey (Elmander 81), Johnson, Redmond, Hoolahan (Howson 67), van Wolfswinkel (Hooper 80). Subs (not used): Bunn, Whittaker, Pilkington, Becchio.
• Goal: Johnson (57)
• Stoke: Begovic, Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters, Odemwingie (Guidetti 63, Ireland 80), Whelan, Nzonzi, Arnautovic (Etherington 74), Walters, Crouch. Subs (not used): Sorensen, Muniesa, Palacios, Wilkinson.
• Bookings: Wilson (foul on Snodgrass, 56); Cameron (foul on Redmond, 69);
• Sending off: Walters (foul on Tettey, 78)
• Goal: Walters (73)
• Added on time: 0 minutes / 5 minutes
• Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)
• Attendance: 26,646