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25 July 2014

Late Pilkington leveller earns draw for Canaries

NORWICH City were given a stern test against SC Bastia with Anthony Pilkington's equaliser five minutes from time earning them a 1-1 draw at the Stade Municipal in Sallanches.

The Canaries had more of the ball but Claude Makelele's Blues were a threat on the break and opened the scoring on 65 minutes through Francois Kamano after a tight first half.

Pilkington's strike levelled proceedings, and City will have been pleased with the step up in opposition ahead of their final two friendlies against Nice and Celta Vigo at Carrow Road.

Neil Adams elected to rest six of his travelling party from the match-day squad, including Kyle Lafferty and Lewis Grabban who were nursing leg and Achilles injuries respectively.

Gary Hooper started up front in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Elliott Bennett and Nathan Redmond on either wing and Bradley Johnson captaining the side in Russell Martin's absence.

Christopher Maboulou flicked a header wide on six minutes for a Bastia team clearly operating at a level above any side City have faced up to now, and it showed as the Canaries, even though they had the upper hand in the possession stakes, were struggling to create any meaningful opportunities.

Steven Whittaker's hopeful drive from range on the half hour was their first direct effort on goal, and there were concerns when Jonny Howson had to limp off five minutes before the break after taking a knock on the foot. He was replaced by Andrew Surman.

The match came to the life for the Ligue 1 outfit just a minute before the break - firstly Floyd Ayite had a goal disallowed when he drifted into an offside position, before the winger let fly from 25 yards, only to see his shot rebound off the inside of the post.

HALF-TIME: Norwich City 0-0 SC Bastia

The match continued in a similar fashion to the first period after the break before Adams made a couple of changes on 57 minutes, with Jamar Loza and Josh Murphy coming on for Nathan Redmond and Gary Hooper.

Bastia got the lead on 65 minutes, however - substitute Kamano wriggled free in the box and managed to find the bottom left corner with a well-placed shot.

Wes Hoolahan was involved in an altercation with a Bastia midfielder shortly before being substituted for Jacob Murphy, but City were still the side on the offensive as they searched for an equaliser.

They got it five minutes from time when substitute Pilkington bagged his third goal of pre-season, finding the corner with a sweet left-footed curling shot after Jacob Murphy had a powerful drive blocked.

FULL-TIME: Norwich City 1-1 SC Bastia

GOALS: The Blues: Francois Kamano (65) - Canaries: Anthony Pilkington (85)

NORWICH CITY: Rudd (Matthews 77); Whittaker, R Bennett, Turner, Garrido; Howson (Surman 39), Johnson (c); E Bennett (Pilkington 66), Hoolahan (Jacob Murphy 74), Redmond (Josh Murphy 57); Hooper (Loza 57). Subs not used: Gafaiti.

SC BASTIA STARTING XI: Leca; Peybernes, Palmieri, Squillaci, Romaric, Modesto, Cahuzac, Gillet, Boudebouz, Ayite, Maboulou.

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