CITY steadied the ship after their opening day nightmare at Fulham with a vastly-improved performance in a 1-1 draw against Queens Park Rangers at Carrow Road.
The Canaries were in front through Simeon Jackson before Rangers equalised in controversial fashion when Bobby Zamora scored from the rebound after John Ruddy
had tipped Djibril Cisse’s 18th minute penalty on to the post.
After the game City boss Chris Hughton said he was pleased with the performance his side had put in but disappointed they had been denied victory by what he described as a ‘soft’ penalty.
“I thought the players responded after what happened at Fulham with a much better performance and the only slight disappointment is it’s definitely a game we should have won.
“We played at a good tempo throughout and created the better chances and then we got pegged back by what I thought was a soft penalty awarded against Sebastien Bassong for a tackle on Cisse.
“Not only did I think it was a soft penalty, you’ve also got a player in Zamora encroaching at least three yards into the box as it was taken.
“But credit to our players for the way they responded to that and they’ve gone on to take the game to Rangers. After Fulham we were certainly looking for a big improvement in terms of performance. We asked them to give us a performance today and they have done that.”
Before the game Hughton made four changes to the team which lost 5-0 at Fulham on the opening day of the season. New signings Bassong and Javier Garrido came into the defence, with Bassong joined at centre-back by Leon Barnett.
Meanwhile a change to a 4-4-2 formation saw Simeon Jackson partnering Grant Holt in attack.
There was a lively start to the match by both teams, but it was City who started the brightest and they duly took the lead after only 11 minutes.
Neat interplay on the edge of the Rangers box saw Pilkington get in behind the defence to the byeline on the left, from where he floated in a great ball across the face of goal for Jackson to head home from close range.
It was City’s first goal in five games if you include the pre-season games against Hull, MK Dons and Borussia Monchengladbach and it was greeted with a huge roar from the home sell-out crowd at Carrow Road.
But the Canaries’ joy was to be short-lived, as just seven minutes later Mark Clattenburg awarded the visitors a penalty for a challenge on Cisse by City debutant Bassong.
The City players certainly felt it was a harsh decision and they also felt Zamora was encroaching into the box when Cisse took the spot-kick, enabling him to tuck home the rebound after Ruddy saved Cisse’s penalty on to the post.
It was perhaps harsh on City but they responded well, Pilkington teasting Green with a low shot the former Canary ‘keeper gathered at the second attempt and then Snodgrass hitting a fierce shot which the Rangers ‘keeper palmed over the bar four minutes before half-time.
Half-time: Norwich City 1, Queens Park Rangers 1
Immediately after the restart City’s goal hero Jackson had another good chance, wriggling in behind his marker before firing a low effort into the side-netting.
Bassong had a great chance to mark his debut with a goal in the 64th minute, but he could only direct his close-range header from a Snodgrass free-kick down and wide of the post.
A minute later Jackson was a whisker away from meeting another ball in from Snodgrass, who himself had a great chance a couple of minutes afterwards as he met Garrido’s excellent ball with a header which flew inches over the bar.
The Canaries went close still in the 82nd minute as Russell Martin’s looping header bounced off the top of the bar and was cleared by the QPR defence.
Both sides continued to search for a winner but in the end settled for a point – a distinct improvement in terms of performance and result for both teams after their heavy opening day defeats.
Full-time: Norwich City 1, Queens Park Rangers 1
City: Ruddy, R.Martin, Johnson, Bassong, Snodgrass, Howson, Holt (c) (Morison 86), Jackson (C.Martin 86), Pilkington, Garrido, Barnett.
Subs not used: Rudd, Hoolahan, Surman, Tierney, Bennett.
QPR: Green, Diakite (Derry 85), Traore (Bosingwa 70), Ferdinand, Hill, Park (c), Cisse, Mackie, Da Silva, Hoilett, Zamora.
Subs not used: Murphy, Johnson, Tarabt, Wright-Phillips, Onuoha.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg.