Watford 1, Norwich 1

Chris Lakey The old heads of Norwich City combined to earn the Canaries a thoroughly deserved point at promotion-chasing Watford. City were 10 minutes from their third defeat in the last four games - until Jamie Cureton popped up with a spectacular equaliser,

Chris Lakey

The old heads of Norwich City combined to earn the Canaries a thoroughly deserved point at promotion-chasing Watford.

City were 10 minutes from their third defeat in the last four games - until Jamie Cureton popped up with a spectacular equaliser right in front of the visiting fans.

It was certainly no less than City, who had trailed from the 11th minute when one-time Canaries triallist Danny Shittu headed in a corner, deserved against the Championship's third-placed team.

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But excellent though Cureton's winner was, he would be the first to acknowledge that the draw owed much to Dublin, who used his wise old head to good effect to repel Watford in the latter stages. Every time a cross or a Leigh Bromby long throw headed towards the City area, Dublin was there to knock it away.

Cureton had his known reason to celebrate - he has now scored in each of City's last three matches to take his tally for the season to 11.

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Roeder - who had seen City beaten 3-1 at home by Watford in his first week in charge - made four changes, with Darren Huckerby back in Norwich with a groin injury. Ryan Bertrand was pushed up to left midfield form full-back, where Mo Camara was recalled. Jon Otsemobor paid for his lapses in concentration against Blackpool on Saturday and was replaced at right back by Spaniard Juan Velasco, making his first start for the Canaries.

Matty Pattison, so effective after coming on for Mark Fotheringham at the weekend, started alongside the City skipper in the middle of the park, with Ched Evans preferred in attack to leading scorer Jamie Cureton.

City were always going to be in for a tough night and with just two minutes on the clock, Tommy Smith beat Camara down Watford's right and swung in low cross which Nathan Ellington hit first time, but past David Marshall's right-hand post.

Former Canaries loan player Bromby then caused some anxious moments with a trademark long throw from the right which took a bounce and ended up just clearing Marshall's bar.

Ellington should have done better on seven minutes when he was put through by John Eustace and found himself one on one with Marshall, but the City keeper came out well and saved with his legs, the Watford striker putting the rebound well wide.

But pressure was never far from City's goal and with 11 minutes gone it paid off, the huge man mountain that is Danny Shittu getting his head to a McAnuff corner to leave Marshall with no chance.

It was hardly surprising given the start City had made - they'd hardly strung two passes together and looked nervous at the back. Ellington and Smith were giving them no peace down the Watford right.

In a rare moment of attacking thrust Fotheringham fired a half volley straight at Watford keeper Richard Lee, but within moments it was back to normal, with City defending.

Ellington fired another effort goalwards but City managed to clear as the rain and hail pelted down again in Hertfordshire.

It was hardly comfortable for City on any score, although Watford might have felt their possession deserved more than just a single-goal lead. McAnuff did his best to change that with a quick burst and shot, which went narrowly wide.

A Fotheringham cross bounced off Alex Pearce's toe and on 33 minutes Pattison sent a right-footed effort goalwards - but neither did much to warm keeper Lee's hands in the Watford goalmouth.

McAnuff showed how it should be done, stinging Marshall's fingers with a shot that the City goalkeeper couldn't hold - perhaps he was happy to concede only a corner.

With half-time approaching City did manage to put a few passes together, although Pattison's shot was a poor way to end it. However, there was evidence of some parity creeping in - although the clear difference was that Watford looked dangerous near Marshall's goal while City were anything but.

Dion Dublin's effort on 41 minutes was probably proof of that; he caught it sweetly enough, but it was pretty much straight at Lee and with little power behind it.

Roeder, no doubt, had a few choice words for his players at half-time, although their performance in the latter stages of the half may have forced him to tone his team talk down a little.

City came out of the traps a little better, Dublin heading a Croft cross wide within a minute of the restart, but it was at the other end where he made a valuable contribution, getting his head in the way of a goalbound effort by Ellington. Shittu then caused more problems at the near post from a Mat Sadler corner, but after he and Marshall went to ground referee Keith Stroud blew his whistle in City's favour.

City won their first corner on 53 minutes, which illustrates how ineffective they'd been up front, although not surprisingly it came to nothing. Evans got closer two minutes later with a terrific low free-kick from almost 30 yards which Lee was grateful to hold in the slippery conditions.

It was certainly more encouraging for the travelling City supporters, although the final ball was still a little way from perfect. Watford could be accused of suffering from the same problem as the game meandered from one failed attack to another

But as the game moved into the final third it was City who were the better team, Fotheringham and Pattison busy in the middle, Velasco and Croft combining well down the right.

Roeder put on Cureton for Camara on 74 minutes, with Bertrand switching to left back, but suddenly it was Watford who were on the attack, forcing a series of corners, most of which ended with a clearing header by Dublin.

That little spell didn't last long - and didn't City take advantage. There looked to be little on when Fotheringham swung the ball wide to Croft. The winger moved inside a little then played it left to Cureton who, from just outside the area, hit as superb first-time shot into the top left-hand corner.

It was little more than City deserved for their second-half performance - although the otherwise excellent Dublin almost gifted Watford a goal with what, at the other end, would have been a stunning "scorpion kick" which Marshall somehow tipped over.

Dublin got it right with a terrific block to deny John-Joe O'Toole in time added on, and Bromby sent in a series of long throws as Watford went for the win - but that man Dublin had put up the no entry signs.


Watford: Lee, Mariappa, Bromby, Shittu, Sadler (Stewart 71), Smith, O'Toole, Eustace, McAnuff, Henderson, Ellington (John 75). Subs not used: Poom, DeMerit, Williamson.

Goal: Shittu 11.

Booking: Eustace, 90, foul on Pattison.

Norwich: Marshall 6, Velasco 7, Doherty 7, Pearce 6 (Shackell 60, 6), Camara 6 (Cureton 74, 6), Croft 6 (Otsemobor 88), Fotheringham 7, Pattison 7, Bertrand 6, Dublin 8, Evans 6. Subs not used: Gilks, Gibbs.

Goal: Cureton 80.

Bookings: Velasco, 65, foul on Ellington; Pattison, 85, foul on Stewart.

Referee: Keith Stroud (Hampshire).

Att: 16,537

Man of the match: Dion Dublin

Time added on: 1 min/4 mins.


Shots On

Watford 6, Norwich 6.

Shots off

Watford 6, Norwich 3.


Watford 17, Norwich 16.


Watford 8, Norwich 2.


Watford 5, Norwich 4.

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