Norwich City 2 Blackburn Rovers 2
PUBLISHED: 17:01 11 March 2017 | UPDATED: 12:41 12 March 2017
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Cameron Jerome's brace earned 10-man Norwich City a point in a 2-2 Championship draw to start the post-Alex Neil era at Carrow Road.
Jerome scored in either half after Mitchell Dijks’ 21st-minute red card left the Canaries and interim boss Alan Irvine facing an uphill battle. Lucas Joao scored twice in seven minutes for struggling Rovers but Jerome levelled to maintain City’s recent unbeaten run at home.
Irvine made two changes from the midweek 1-1 Championship draw at Bristol City. Alex Pritchard and Wes Hoolahan returned for Steven Naismith and Robins’ goalscorer Yanic Wildschut.
Rovers’ line up featured former Norwich midfielder Elliott Bennett.
Howson was urged to shoot in the 11th minute but his effort spiralled away for the first home corner, eventually gathered by Jason Steele.
Ivo Pinto required prolonged treatment to his left knee area following a burst down the right, before re-joining the action while Steven Whittaker continued to warm up.
Jerome rolled home his sixth goal in nine games to open the scoring when Jason Steele could only spill Josh Murphy’s low cut-back.
But the game tilted again two minutes later when Dijks went over the top of the ball to leave Marvin Emnes on the turf as referee Hooper immediately brandished the red card from his pocket.
Irvine’s decision to substitute Pritchard for Steven Whittaker in the aftermath sparked a furious response from the vast majority inside Carrow Road who wanted the diminutive midfielder to strut his stuff in a rare start.
Elliott Bennett dragged his angled shot wide with Rovers looking to cash in on the fractious mood of dissent on the terraces.
Liam Feeney swivelled onto Russell Martin’s partial clearance but clipped a rising shot over in the closing stages of a lacklustre half from both sides.
Rovers’ made a half-time change with Connor Mahoney replacing Ryan Nyambe. City had the first chance of the second period when Jerome’s glancing flick from Hoolahan’s teasing free kick was gathered by Steele.
Elliott Bennett blasted a 20-yard free kick over in the 52nd minute after Hooper penalised Ryan Bennett for a shove on Mahoney.
Pinto surged into the Rovers’ box but his fearsome strike thudded the outside of Steele’s near post and out for a throw-in.
Joao slammed the woodwork at the opposite end in the closest shave for the Canaries before Emnes hammered the rebound over.
Irvine made a double change in the 71st minute with the 10-men visibly wilting as Rovers’ piled more bodies forward. Wildschut and Jacob Murphy replaced Hoolahan and Josh Murphy respectively.
But City were unable to hold out when Joao was left unmarked inside the six yard box to sidefoot Mahoney’s cross past McGovern.
Joao then climbed above Ryan Bennett to head Danny Graham’s deep cross past McGovern from five yards.
That sparked spontaneous chants of ‘sack the board’ around Carrow Road as the frustration erupted again. But Jerome provided some relief when he sidefooted home Jacob Murphy’s cut-back for his second in the 81st minute.
• Norwich: McGovern, Pinto, Bennett, Martin, Dijks, Tettey, Howson, Josh Murphy (Jacob Murphy 71), Pritchard (Whittaker 25), Hoolahan (Wildschut 71), Jerome. Subs: (not used): Ruddy (GK), Bassong, Naismith, Maddison.
• Bookings: Hoolahan (foul on Bennett, 33); Whittaker (foul on Mahoney, 62); Tettey (foul on Mahoney, 88)
• Sending Off: Dijks (foul on Emnes, 21)
• Goals: Jerome (19, 81)
• Blackburn: Steele, Hoban, Williams, Lowe, Feeney (Joao 59), Graham, Emnes, Guthrie (Akpan 54), Nyambe (Mahoney 45), Lenihan, Bennett. Subs (not used): Raya (GK), Ward, Tomlinson, Brown.
• Bookings: Lowe (foul on Josh Murphy, 56); Lenihan (dissent, 76); Akpan (foul on Wildschut, 90)
• Goals: Joao (73, 78)
• Time added on: 5 minutes / 5 minutes
• Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)
• Attendance: 26,224