Norwich 1, Hull 1
PUBLISHED: 19:35 12 February 2008 | UPDATED: 15:24 10 September 2010
A looping header by veteran Dion Dublin gave City a first-half lead, one which they were forced to relinquish when Frazier Campbell levelled eight minutes into the second half
Norwich City's unbeaten run goes on - but only after they survived arguably the toughest test of the last two and a half months. It could so easily have been unlucky 13 for the Canaries against a side who hold more realistic play-off ambitions. But 13 it is - a baker's dozen of games since they have trooped off the pitch as losers.
Late, great goals have been the order of the day in recent games - Ched Evans at Cardiff on Saturday, Darel Russell against Preston the previous week. Tonight, it was a looping header by veteran Dion Dublin which gave City a first-half lead, one which they were forced to relinquish when Frazier Campbell levelled eight minutes into the second half.
It was Dublin's fifth Championship goal of the season and, when the points are tallied up at the end of the season, it might prove to be oh so vital, because Hull were certainly the biggest test City have faced on their road to recovery.
The Tigers packed their midfield and frustrated City at every turn, but were dangerous on the break - although both teams will be indebted to their goalkeepers for making saves that could have proved the difference between sharing the spoils and leaving empty-handed.
It was all played out in front of a noisy 25,259-strong crowd at Carrow Road, where the hopes that seemed dead and buried just three months ago are now alive and very much kicking.
Roeder made one change, bringing in on-loan Arsenal youngster Kieran Gibbs for his debut on the left side of midfield and pushing back Ryan Bertrand to left-back, where Saturday's incumbent, Mo Camara, found himself dropped from the 16.
Hull boss Phil Brown was without leading scorer Dean Windass, who didn't travel after picking up an injury against Blackpool on Saturday.
With Bryan Hughes also in the wars at the weekend, Brown started with Nicky Barmby on the left of a five-man midfield, with Jay-Jay Okocha in a middle three and on-loan Manchester United youngster Campbell ploughing a lone furrow up front.
Norwich were frustrated in their early attempts to make inroads into the visitors' half, the play concentrated in the middle third of the pitch and biting tackles the order of the day. It wasn't appetising stuff for a packed Carrow Road, but needs must.
It was 11 minutes before City's fans had something to cheer about, Dublin finding Lee Croft down the right, the winger beating Hendrik Pedersen all ends up and sending in a good cross which Evans headed just over.
Croft and Mark Fotheringham did well to carve out a half chance, but every time City advanced Hull were waiting to pounce and catch them on the break.
Fotheringham was becoming increasingly influential, sending a free-kick in on 17 minutes which Gary Doherty won, and the spraying it wide to Croft.
But it was Russell who was the provider on 19 minutes, taking a square ball from Evans and dinking in a cross to Dublin, who jumped with Michael Turner and sent in a looping header which Boaz Myhill just couldn't get to.
It was just what the doctor ordered, although City were given a quick reminder that this was no pushover, when goalkeeper David Marshall flapped at an Okocha throw-in and then failed to gather it a second time before Doherty blocked at the near post from Barmby and City cleared their lines.
Croft was denied moments later by a brilliant one-handed save by Myhill from eight yards after Evans had caused problems in the Hull area and then Turner headed a free-kick well over Marshall's bar.
Suddenly, after the initial sparring, it had become a slugfest.
On points Norwich would consider themselves ahead with a third of the game gone Hull skipper Ian Ashbee probably felt otherwise, crashing a shot into the ground and wide after a clever Okocha corner had caused real problems in the Canaries defence.
Evans spotted Myhill off his line and tried a lob from the halfway line, but there was no repeat of his weekend exploits when he scored from distance at Cardiff.
But Hull's possession was becoming a worry in the lead-up to half-time, Okocha and Ashbee getting a grip in midfield, with Wayne Brown connecting but off target with a header from Okocha's free kick on the right.
Norwich weren't helping their cause with some dodgy back-passes which left Marshall exposed - Doherty and Russell the guilty parties.
But Norwich were furious when Croft was impeded by Pedersen as he chased a perfect defence-splitting ball by Matthew Bates - and referee Andy Hall didn't bat an eyelid.
But that anger would have been tempered by their half-time lead - although Hull will have argued that they deserved a share of the spoils.
Ashbee gave a signal of Hull's intent within two minutes of the restart, taking Russell's legs from under him.
But the biggest sign came on 51 minutes, when Hull came so close to equalising only to be denied by the brilliance of Marshall, who leapt high to tip over Campbell's header. It was a warning sign, but one that wasn't heeded, and a minute later it was all square, with Campbell chasing a ball down the middle, getting the better of Shackell and Bertrand and getting just enough on the ball to slide it past Marshall and into the net.
Suddenly, it was game on again, play moving quickly from end to end, with Marshall doing well to deny Ryan France as Hull looked like taking the initiative and staking a claim for all three points.
City lost Bates to injury just before the hour mark, with Roeder sending on Jon Otsemobor and replacing Gibbs with Matty Pattison at the same time, with more than half and hour of the game remaining.
The home crowd was becoming frustrated as the Tigers shut every door that City tried to open, but to be fair, the noise levels rarely dropped from the home faithful.
They even went up a few decibels when Fotheringham cut in and sent a 25-yard shot a foot over the bar on 66 minutes and then a few more as he tried to return a corner but hit the side netting.
Roeder played his final card on 70 minutes when Darren Huckerby replaced the excellent Croft and within minutes City could have been ahead.
This time it was Russell forcing a good save from Myhill and then the same player shot inches wide from the edge of a packed penalty box.
It was breathless stuff, neither side giving a quarter, although City arguably went into the final 10 minutes just ahead on points.
Hull - whose melodramatic manager Brown appeared to enjoy his role as the most conspicuous man in the ground - were content by then to wind down the clock, while Norwich were anything but content with a point.
That was emphasised as Myhill picked up the first booking of the game from referee Hall for time wasting.
But even with the aid of four minutes added on and City's habit of scoring late, late goals, they were one big push away from the knockout punch.