Determined performance earns point at Sunderland
A RESOLUTE performance from 10-man City claimed a well-deserved point at the Stadium of Light with a 1-1 draw against Sunderland.
The Canaries had gone ahead on 26 minutes through a Wes Hoolahan header, before City were reduced to ten men as Referee Chris Foy showed a red-card to goalkeeper Mark Bunn for handling the ball outside the area.
Soon after Sunderland were level. Craig Gardner putting the finishing touches on a penalty awarded for an adjudged handball by Sebastien Bassong inside the box. Despite being a man light for over an hour a resolute and determined second half performance saw the Canaries battle to a vital point.
On the result City boss Chris Hughton said: "It was a good performance from the lads today. It could be a vital point, but we had some decisions go against us today."
City's starting eleven had two changes from the 0-0 draw with Southampton from the previous weekend. Wes Hoolahan and Elliott Bennett returning for Anthony Pilkington and Grant Holt - City's number nine named on the bench and Pilkington recovering from a hamstring injury which saw him withdrawn early against the Saints.
Former Canary Martin O'Neil made three changes to his side that lost 3-1 to QPR in their last game - Cuellar and Rose coming in to their defence and Vaughan in midfeld for Bramble, Colback and N'Diaye.
Sunderland won a corner in the opening minute after Jonny Howson was forced to head clear a Craig Gardner cross. Although Sunderland crowded round Mark Bunn his defenders did enough to give the City 'keeper room to punch clear any danger.
The Canaries then worked two flag-kick opportunities themselves, but were crowded out of any shooting opportunity by the Black Cat's defence.
Five minutes in and Bunn had to be alert and dive on the ball to prevent Danny Graham following in on a loose ball after Steven Fletcher had been muscled out of an initial chance.
Three minutes later Turner conceded a free-kick 20 yards out for a foul on Sessegnon. Sebastian Larsson took it but the Canary wall did its job and former Black Cat Turner cleared his lines.
Sessegnon wasted a shooting opportunity on 21 minutes after his team-mates had won the ball in midfield. The Canaries responded with John O'Shea having to clear two Elliott Bennett crosses.
And from the resulting corner City took the lead. Kei Kamara nodding on Snodgrass' delivery and Hoolahan pouncing to head it past Simon Mignolet for 1-0.
But a major turning point came on the half hour when Mark Bunn was dismissed by referee Chris Foy adudging him to have handled the ball outside his area, as he raced out to clear from an on-rushing Graham.
To the dispair of Bunn the referee showed him the red card and awarded Sunderland a free-kick 20 yards out. Goalscorer Hoolahan was sacrificed for City to bring on Lee Camp in goal for his first appearancee since his January transfer move, his first job to face a Gardner free-kick which he thankfully put high of the bar.
But it was to get worse eight minutes later when an assistant referee flagged for a penalty adjudging Sebastien Bassong controlled the ball with his arm. This time Gardner didn't squander the opportunity and put it high out of Camp's reach to pull the hosts level.
Buoyed by their equaliser Larsson forced Camp in to a good save with a smart hit, Graham putting the rebound wide. The final action of the half saw Danny Rose hit the base of the post with a shot from outside the area.
Half-time: Sunderland 1, Norwich City 1
City were proving well organised in defence to the frustration of the home faithful as they set about a tough task in the second half. Bassong especially putting his body in the way to deny Fletcher time and space as they sniffed for that second goal.
On 56 minutes City won a free-kick through Kamara, but unfortunately he then couldn't capitalise on Snodgrass' delivery heading the ball back looking for Bassong but Sunderland cleared. Then Martin won a corner doing well after bursting into the box.
Camp was forced to turn a Gardner strike over the bar with a good stop.
The Canaries were still getting hold of the ball - Snodgrass releasing a pass through for Kamara to run but it was a little too strong and it gave time for Mignolet to clear.
Adam Johnson tried his luck from outside the area which Camp initially parried and collected on the second attempt. On 64 minutes Chris Hughton made a change seeing Grant Holt come on for Kei Kamara.
The Canaries were awarded a free-kick with 20 minutes left - Russell Martin again doing well on the right and cutting inside but his delivery into the box was cut short by the hand of Danny Rose - but the free-kick was awarded right on the edge of the penalty box.
Unfortunately Sunderland managed to defend the set-piece and on 70 minutes an injured Cuellar was replaced by Titus Bramble. And five minutes later Graham came off for James McClean.
Grant Holt was set free but his final touch was a little too heavy and Mignolet captured the ball - Holt catching him as he challenged for the ball and picking up a yellow card.
Former Ipswich striker Connor Wickham was Martin O'Neill's final change with seven minutes left to play, replacing Adam Johnson.
In the final three minutes Sessegnon dragged an effort wide to the relief of the Yellow Army perched high in the upper tier behind the goal.
Steven Whittaker made a late cameo appearance replacing Snodgrass for the final two minutes. Larsson picked up a yellow card for a clip on Howson as City pushed into the Sunderland half.
Four minutes of additional time were awarded, which saw Lee Camp booked for time wasting. With the home side pushing forward it also gave Whittaker time and space to run down the left and put in a great ball across the six-yard box but unfortuantely a yellow shirt wasn't there to tap it home.
At the death Sunderland won a free-kick but although Larsson's delivery met a Sunderland head it was directed out for a goal kick. It proved the final action of the game and the Canaries claimed a well-earned point.
FULL TIME - Sunderland 1-1 Norwich City
Sunderland: Mignolet, Gardner, Rose, O'Shea (c), Cuellar (Bramble 70), Vaughan, Larsson, Johnson (Wickham 83), Sessegnon, Fletcher, Graham (McClean 75). Subs not used: Bardsley, N'Diaye, Colback, Westwood.
CITY: Bunn, R. Martin (c), Bassong, Turner, Garrido, Johnson, Howson, E. Bennett, Snodgrass (Whittaker 88), Hoolahan (Camp 31), Kamara (Holt 64). Subs not used: Jackson, Fox, Becchio, R. Bennett.