Controversy masks lack of conviction from Norwich

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Cardiff striker Fraizer Campbell stretches for the ball at Norwich.PA PhotosCardiff striker Fraizer Campbell stretches for the ball at Norwich.

Perhaps it was poetic justice a Premier League stalemate between Norwich City's old and new guard will be remembered for a disallowed goal at Carrow Road.

Chris Hughton's men have scored the joint lowest total of top flight goals despite a multi-million pound summer investment in strikers Gary Hooper and Ricky van Wolfswinkel designed to address that deficit.

Malky Mackay's Cardiff City were resolute to the point of obstinacy. Ex-Canary David Marshall went some way to repaying his manager's faith after the previous week's gaffe that gifted Chelsea's Samuel Eto'o an equaliser at Stamford Bridge. Back on Norfolk soil and with the vocal catcalls from a Norwich public with long memories who readily recall Marshall's rather swift exit upon relegation to League One, the Scot was magnificently resolute. Norwich mustered 31 efforts in total on his goal -- an unwanted Premier League record this season -- but it was Marshall's role in the fracas that exploded deep in stoppage time that defined this spiky contest.

- Morris: That's not Fer
- Mackay slams Fer over incident

Cardiff's keeper opted to put the ball out of play with Norwich midfielder Alex Tettey lying prone on the turf following a heavy collision with Fraizer Campbell. The Canaries' Dutch imports Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Leroy Fer clearly failed to grasp the convention in England that demands the ball is returned to the opposition on the restart. Fer guided his compatriot's throw-in beyond Marshall and into the unguarded net to cue a ferocious reaction from the Bluebirds' players that required the swift intervention of referee Mike Jones and his officials to restore order. Jones merely instructed Norwich to try again from a re-taken throw when a degree of calmness returned before the recriminations unfolded on the final whistle.

Mackay revealed Norwich's management had pledged in the immediate aftermath of the sour incident they would have instructed the Canaries' players to down tools in order to allow Cardiff a swift equaliser to restore a sense of equilibrium and fair play to the proceedings. Fer rather unwisely but, it must also be said, with a degree of brutal honesty confirmed he had tried to score to secure his side three vital league points rather than miscued his intended pass in the direction of visiting keeper Marshall -- an admission that prompted Mackay to question the young midfielder's integrity and respect for his fellow professionals.

It was heated stuff in the bowels of Carrow Road's Main Stand to match the ferocity of Norwich's best periods, when only Marshall's defiance and Norwich's lack of precision failed to deliver the win most inside the stadium craved.

This was seen as the day when those recent stirring but ultimately fruitless outings against Chelsea and Arsenal would finally produce tangible results. Norwich have now taken one solitary point and failed to score against both newly promoted duo Cardiff and Hull City. Hughton needs another victory and soon but may have to wait until West Ham's Premier League visit next month for a realistic opportunity after a double header in Manchester -- United in the cup and City in the league -- this coming week.

Hughton was again steadfast in his belief the tide will turn. It was hard on the evidence of this latest offering not to share his conviction. Norwich's switch to a central three in midfield in recent weeks has unlocked the attacking dynamism of Jonny Howson, in tandem with the wonderfully gifted Fer. But performances are yet to translate into results and Norwich remain mired in the bottom three as a consequence.


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