Shot-shy Canaries grind out Millwall point
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Toothless Norwich City ground out another Championship point after a 0-0 stalemate in an uncomfortable Tuesday night trip to Millwall.
Daniel Farke’s squad increased their lead at the top over Swansea to five points but a third blank in three league and cup games raised more questions than answers.
Millwall were all over the Canaries in the final stages at the Den but let City off the hook as the visitors held out for a fourth clean sheet in the last five league games.
Przemyslaw Placheta came in for the suspended Emi Buendia in the one change to the Norwich starting line up that drew 0-0 against Middlesbrough in the Championship on Saturday.
Kenny McLean was back in the squad after contracting coronavirus and undergoing a period of self-isolation, but Lukas Rupp retained his place alongside Olly Skipp.
Dimitris Giannoulis started his first away game for his club following his debut against the Teessiders, with Jacob Sorensen again on the bench.
There was no place in the match night squad for either Xavi Quintilla or Josh Martin.
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Giannoulis was on the end of a crunching challenge from Ryan Leonard that escaped censure inside the opening seconds. That may have temporarily rattled the left back, who coughed up cheap possession inside his own half but Kenneth Zohore slipped as he tried to roll in Jed Wallace.
Placheta worked a position of promise in the ninth minute but his rasping left footed shot from 25 yards cleared Bartosz Bialkowski’s bar.
Tim Krul had to grasp Zohore’s lofted snapshot after Grant Hanley was unable to decisively clear a bouncing ball.
Teemu Pukki escaped detection with a run in behind in the 14th minute, but the frontman was adjudged to be offside as he tried to bend his run to collect Rupp’s teasing centre.
Hanley closed the door on the speedy Wallace in the 16th minute, who was poised to test Krul after chopping back inside Rupp. That home counter came with Todd Cantwell on the deck on the halfway line appealing for a foul after being eased off the ball.
Leonard cracked a venomous volley over from the following corner in what appeared a pre-planned move to pick out the late-arriving right-sided defender.
Placheta veered infield before testing compatriot Bialkowski with a low shot from the edge of the area. But back came Millwall seconds later. Hanley was outmuscled by Zohore allowed Scott Malone to force Krul into a sharp near post parry to keep out his half-volley from 16 yards.
Mario Vrancic reversed an exquisite ball into Rupp on the half hour mark, who in turn fed Pukki but Jake Cooper blocked the striker’s attempt.
Rupp then drove powerfully into Millwall territory before Max Aarons was the latest City player down the right to cut inside but drag a low shot wide.
Rupp and Vrancic were beginning to enjoy the open spaces afforded by a Millwall team happy to sit deep. Cantwell clipped in a teasing cross after the visitors had prodded and probed, but Millwall conceded a corner Vrancic headed over.
Cantwell then arrowed a raking ball to Aarons five minutes before the interval but Pukki was fractions from connecting eight yards out, as the Finn thrust his hands to his head at the near miss.
A half of promise but no end product for the Canaries was summed up in stoppage time when Pukki raced clear but his first effort was blocked and he tamely clipped the follow up at Bialkowski inside the Lions’ area.
Hanley appeared to land awkwardly on his right ankle early in the second period after a tussle with Zohore. The skipper was checked over by the City physio before resuming his post.
Millwall’s muscular pressing remained a constant but Norwich were again able to work Placheta into the box before his low cross was cut out for another corner that led to Hanley miscuing his header under pressure.
Rupp turned defence into attack with a burst in the 55th minute that left Millwall outnumbered as Pukki continued the charge. Cantwell tried to fashion a shooting chance before the late-arriving Vrancic scuffed a left-footed effort wide.
City had a reprieve in the 61st minute when Millwall worked an overload down their left before Krul misjudged a drifting cross but Zohore’s looping header inside the six yard box landed on top of the netting.
Cantwell advanced with Norwich trying to re-establish a measure of controlled possession after a bright spell for Millwall but his 25 yard shot flew into the empty seats.
Aarons followed his team mate’s lead with a wayward left-footed shot in the 67th minute with Norwich’s final decision lacking composure.
Even the usually deadly Vrancic was unable to test Bialkowski with a 30-yard free kick that flew wide in the 72nd minute.
That was the Bosnian’s last act, replaced by Kieran Dowell as City looked for the breakthrough.
Giannoulis was caught ball watching as Millwall raided down their right but Wallace’s strike hit Ben Gibson before Malone slashed the rebound wide from 12 yards.
Onel Hernandez and McLean were introduced in a double change for Placheta and Rupp.
Rowett roared for a penalty when Giannoulis and Mason Bennettt wrestled each other to the ground in the Norwich area, but referee Martin was unmoved.
Hanley blocked Matt Smith’s goalbound close range volley in the 85th minute with Millwall now on the front foot.
The Lions were incensed another penalty appeal was turned down when Shaun Hutchinson went down in a challenge with Dowell in what the Millwall players felt was a clear push.
Dowell was involved again in the last seconds deep in stoppage time when his weak pass, with Krul well out of his goal to control a throw in, gifted Wallace an attempt from 45 yards that slithered wide of the open goal.
• Millwall (3-5-2): Bialkowski, Leonard, Hutchinson, Cooper, McNamara (Romeo 77), Kieftenbeld, Woods (Bennett 78), Malone, Wallace, Thompson (Ferguson 78), Zohore (Smith 82). Subs: Fielding (GK), Williams, Bradshaw, Pearce, Bodvarsson.
• Booking: Kieftenbeld (foul on Dowell, 87)
• Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Krul, Aarons, Hanley (C), Gibson, Giannoulis, Skipp, Rupp (McLean 80), Placheta (Hernandez 80), Vrancic (Dowell 75), Cantwell (Idah 89), Pukki. Subs: Barden (GK), Zimmermann, Sorensen, Tettey, Mumba.
• Bookings: McLean (foul on Leonard, 82); Aarons (foul on Wallace, 89)
• Added on time: 1 minute / 4 minutes
• Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffs)
• Attendance: BCD