Norwich made it seven games unbeaten in the Premier League after claiming a creditable 1-1 draw against Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium.
It was in truth a game low on quality, with chances at a premium. It was Rickie Lambert who opened the scoring on 32 minutes, prodding home a set-piece.
Robert Snodgrass equalised on the stroke of half-time direct from a free-kick, though it was really poor goalkeeping from Paulo Gazzaniga to let it fly under his body.
It means Southampton stay in the relegation zone while Norwich remain in 13th.
Southampton narrowly had the better of the match, but it was a tight and cautious affair typical of Norwich’s recent league form.
Chances were at a premium and it wasn’t until the 24th minute that there was even a sniff of an opportunity. It was Lambert who created it after lofting a diagonal pass towards the advancing Adam Lallana. The midfielder took it first time on the volley, smashing it a foot over the bar from just inside the area.
The first shot on target resulted in the opening goal, and it unsurprisingly came from a set piece, which looked the likeliest route to goal all evening. Robert Snodgrass brought down the impressive 17-year-old Luke Shaw; the whipped free-kick caused havoc in the box and Lambert was there to prod into the far corner.
Southampton almost doubled their lead three minutes before the break after Gaston Ramirez’s free-kick evaded everyone, including the far post by inches.
They were made to regret it as Norwich equalised with almost the last kick of the first half. Nathaniel Clyne needlessly brought down Snodgrass, and the former Leeds man stepped up to hit a low, if rather tame shot towards the near post. Gazzaniga was slow to react though and the young Argentine let the ball squirm under his body.
There were even fewer chances in the second half, with Norwich seemingly pleased to settle for the point early on.
There wasn’t a hint of a chance after the break until Grant Holt escaped at the far post following a corner in the 65th minute. He headed firmly down, but Gazzaniga partly made up for his costly error by saving well.
Norwich should have had a penalty late on as Snodgrass was brought down by the otherwise impressive Shaw after tottering to the byline. Mark Clattenburg, who was refereeing his first game since the Chelsea racism affair, failed to spot it and waved play on.
It was to prove the last real action of the match as a raft of substitutions wound down the clock, with both teams reasonably happy with the point.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jason Puncheon - Southampton: In a match lacking any real attacking quality, he looked the man most likely to find an opening with his direct running and dangerous left foot.
Southampton: Gazzaniga 5, Clyne 6, Yoshida 6, Fonte 5, Shaw 7, Puncheon 8, Schneiderlin 5, Cork 5, Lallana 7, Lambert 7, Ramirez 6. Subs: Rodriguez 5, Reeves 5.
Norwich: Bunn 7, Whittaker 6, Ryan Bennett 5, Bassong 6, Garrido 6, Snodgrass 7, Johnson 5, Tettey 6, Pilkington 6, Hoolahan 5, Holt 7. Subs: Howson 5, Morrison 5.
- Sports & Recreation
- Rickie Lambert
- Robert Snodgrass