ANOTHER clean sheet, another Barclays Premier League point and a lively cameo from Kei Kamara on his Canary debut were the positives to take from an otherwise frustrating 0-0 draw with Fulham at Carrow Road.
An early chance for Luciano Becchio was well-saved by Mark Schwarzer in the Fulham goal and Bradley Johnson’s late shot flashed just wide of the post – but otherwise it was a game in which City lacked the spark required in the final third.
A pre-match back spasm suffered by Grant Holt forced the Canaries into an attacking reshuffle but Becchio’s hard graft and Kamara’s high-tempo late arrival on the pitch were not enough to turn a single Premier League point into three.
Hughton told Canaries Player afterwards: "It was a frustrating one for us. You have to look at the quality they've got but the disappointment was that in that final third we didn't really show enough quality.
"I think the game itself needed a goal to open it up a little bit, often our deliveries into the box were met by two very resilient centre-backs today.
"I liked what I saw with Kei (Kamara). It was a bit of a risk he arrived on Wednesday after a long flight and trained with us for two days and in terms of match fitness he's a fair bit away from it at the moment. So we took a little bit of a chance but I liked what I saw."
He also confirmed that part of City’s two-week break before they entertain Everton would be spent undergoing warm weather training in Abu Dhabi.
“We are going away for four days for some good training sessions in a different environment and of course continuing to work hard when we return and in the build-up to what will be another very tough game against Everton here,” he said.
Before the game Hughton was forced into a significant change in attack by the absence of Grant Holt, who injured his back earlier in the day.
In came Luciano Becchio to replace him for his first Canary start, with Kei Kamara given a place on the substitutes’ bench after joining on loan from Sporting Kansas City earlier in the week.
The game was barely two minutes old when Berbatov required treatment for a facial cut for the visitors, after Bradley Johnson inadvertently caught him while clearing the lines.
In the 5th minute City created the game’s first chance, Garrido’s low cross met by Becchio stabbing the ball goalwards – but Schwarzer made the save.
Russell Martin had a free header from a good position after he was picked out by an excellent ball from Johnson, but his effort sailed high and wide.
There was a booking apiece in the space of a minute, first Frimpong cautioned for fouling Snodgrass and then Bennett shown the yellow card for a foul on Rodallega.
There was a huge ovation for Kei Kamara as he joined the other City subs in warming up on the touchline in front of an appreciative Barclay and Snakepit in the 38th minute.
A minute later a useful ball in from the right from Martin was headed over by Becchio.
: Norwich City 0, Fulham 0
Fulham made a bright start to the second half and forced Bunn into his first save of the game three minutes of the restart, as he parried a long-range effort from Sidwell to safety.
Sidwell was in the action again in the 57th minute, this time on the receiving end of a tackle from behind from Snodgrass which earned the Norwich winger a booking.
After the hour-mark Fulham made a change, Emanuelson replacing Frimpong.
City were finding it hard to mount truly penetrative attacks, a Snodgrass daisy-cutter from long-range comfortably saved by Schwarzer as the home crowd’s frustration grew.
Another Fulham change in the 75th minute, with Petric coming on for Radallega , was matched by City bringing on Simeon Jackson for Elliott Bennett.
Johnson had a good chance for City in the 84th minute but fired narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
A minute later there was a big ovation for Becchio as he left the pitch and an even bigger one for Kei Kamara as he came on to make his Barclays Premier League debut.
And his first touch was a looping header on to the roof of the Fulham net from Garrido’s free-kick.
Within minutes he was involved again, adjudged to have fouled Fulham ‘keeper Schwarzer despite replays suggesting the Australian had contacted him first in the incident.
: Norwich City 0, Fulham 0
: Bunn, Martin (c), Johnson, Bassong, Turner, Snodgrass, Hoolahan, Bennett (Jackson 76), Garrido, Becchio (Kamara 86), Tettey. Subs not used: Camp, Whittaker, Howson, Surman, Tierney.
: Schwarzer, Riise, Senderos, Hangeland (c), Sidwell, Berbatov, Ruiz (Dejaga 90), Frimpong (Emanuelson 64), Duff, Rodallega (Petric 76), Manolev. Subs not used: Etheridge, Karagounis, Hughes, Kacaniklic.
Referee: Howard Webb