Gillingham 1, Norwich City 1
David Cuffley Darel Russell scored a dramatic equaliser four minutes into stoppage time to earn 10-man Norwich City a point from their League One clash with Gillingham. Russell headed home from a corner after Grant Holt's header had hit the bar to send the Canaries' travelling fans into raptures.
Gillingham 1, Norwich City 1
Darel Russell scored a dramatic equaliser four minutes into stoppage time to earn 10-man Norwich City a point from their League One clash with Gillingham.
Russell headed home from a corner after Grant Holt's header had hit the bar to send the Canaries' travelling fans into raptures.
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A controversial first-half penalty looked to have condemned City to their second successive away defeat as goalkeeper Fraser Forster was shown the red card.
The Canaries were well on top when Forster was adjudged to have brought down Curtis Weston. Referee Paul Taylor pointed to the spot and showed the red card to the stunned goalkeeper.
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With City reduced to 10 men, substitute keeper Declan Rudd's first task on his senior debut was to pick Simeon Jackson's successful 33rd-minute penalty out of the net.
Rudd made two excellent saves in the second half from Jackson and Weston to keep the Canaries in with a chance, and their 10 men were able to salvage a point in a thrilling final assault.
It was the same referee Taylor who sent off City's Gary Doherty and Darel Russell in the same match at Coventry 18 months ago, and sent Russell off again against Preston at Carrow Road last season.
The result made it four league matches without a win for Paul Lambert's Canaries, but they will take heart from rescuing a point in injury time for the second week running.
Lambert retained the side that started last week's 2-2 draw against Charlton, with the only change on the bench, where Stephen Hughes returned after shaking off a foot injury.
Gillingham were also unchanged despite a 4-1 defeat at Leeds last Saturday. City, wearing their all white away kit, began brightly and after three minutes a quickly-taken free-kick following a foul on Hoolahan gave him the chance to break, but his cross towards Holt was overhit.
In the sixth minute, Gillingham threatened when Palmer crossed from the left and Barcham flashed a header wide.
Daley, playing in a more advanced role alongside Holt, was involved in plenty of the early action and when he latched on to Drury's clearance, he ran at the defence and cut inside before firing a powerful right-foot shot just wide.
Hoolahan produced City's best effort with 15 minutes gone when he took a pass from Smith and jinked his way into the Gillingham area before firing in a low shot that Royce did well to beat away.
Hoolahan was here, there and everywhere and when his cross from the right was met by Holt, there were appeals for handball against Gowling as he blocked the striker's header.
Smith left fly from long range as City pressed again, but his effort struck team-mate Daley. Gillingham skipper Fuller was shown the yellow card after 24 minutes for pushing Hoolahan to the ground when he tried to take a quick free-kick for handball by the City man.
Lappin went into the book three minutes later. Smith flashed a left-foot shot wide after 31 minutes after a sustained attacking spell as City continued to enjoy the upper hand.
There was real controversy after 32 minutes when the Gills were awarded a penalty and City were reduced to 10 men with 'keeper Forster sent off. A smart backheel by Jackson sent Weston racing through and he went past Forster but there seemed minimal contact, if any at all, as Weston tumbled over.
However, referee Taylor pointed straight to the spot and immediately produced the red card for the stunned Forster. Substitute 'keeper Rudd was sent on for his senior debut and the unlucky Daley was withdrawn and, when the furore died down, Jackson beat Rudd from the spot, shooting to the keeper's left for his ninth goal of the season. For referee Taylor, it was the fourth red card he had issued to the Canaries in 18 months.
Ten-man City had to make another change after 39 minutes when Otsemobor went down and had to be replaced by Hughes.
Jackson missed the chance to make it 2-0 four minutes before the break when the offside flag stayed down but he fired across goal with only Rudd to beat.
Bentley was shown the yellow card in first-half stoppage time for a foul on Lappin. From the free-kick by Hughes, Spillane headed narrowly over.
t Half-time: Gillingham 1, Norwich City 0
The hosts began the second period strongly with a one-man advantage. Askou made one vital headed clearance from close to his own line, while a header from a corner by Gowling was blocked at close range. Oli then headed over from Palmer's cross as Gillingham kept up the pressure.
Holt's appeals for a penalty were waved away as he went down between Fuller and Maher. There was a lengthy delay while Barcham was treated following a tackle by Spillane.
Rudd made a fine save after 58 minutes as Palmer cut into the Norwich area and let fly from a tight angle. City made their final change midway through the second half when McDonald replaced Smith. Spillane went to right-back with Lappin switching to the centre of defence.
Rudd kept City in the game after 71 minutes with a fine save from Jackson after Nutter had put the striker clean through. Russell curled a free-kick well over the top as the Canaries were given a rare opportunity to apply some pressure.
Jackson missed another great chance with 15 minutes left when he fired wide from the edge of the area, and he blazed another effort over the bar in Gillingham's next attack.
Russell pushed forward again but fired over the top from Hughes' square pass. Rudd made an even better save after 79 minutes when Jackson set up Weston, whose goalbound shot was brilliantly tipped over by Rudd.
Gillingham made their last change with 10 minutes left when goalscorer Jackson made way for Miller. Three minutes into stoppage time, Hoolahan's shot was blocked at close range. From the resulting corner, Holt's header hit the bar and Russell headed in the rebound for a dramatic equaliser.
t Gillingham: Royce; Fuller, Gowling, Bentley, Palmer; Oli, Maher (Payne, 66), Weston, Jackman, Barcham (Nutter, 66); Jackson (Miller, 80). Subs (not used): Julian, Erskine, Wynter, Rooney.
t Norwich City: Forster; Otsemobor (Hughes, 39), Spillane, Askou, Drury; Smith (McDonald, 68), Russell, Lappin; Hoolahan; Holt, Daley (Rudd, 34). Subs (not used): Adeyemi, McVeigh, Martin, Cureton.
t Referee: Paul Taylor (Hertfordshire)
t Attendance: 7,550.
t Goals: Gillingham: Jackson (pen, 36). Norwich: Russell (90)
t Red card: Norwich: Forster (33)
t Bookings: Gillingham: Fuller (24), Bentley (45), Gowling (86). Norwich: Lappin (27), Drury (81), Holt (86)