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Match Report


Posted Sat 29 Oct 11 at 17:08 PM

Report: Norwich City 3 Rovers 3

Rovers were once again left to suffer last gasp heartache as they drew 3-3 with Norwich at Carrow Road.

Steve Kean's side looked to be heading to their first away win but two goals in the final ten minutes saw the home side rescue an unlikely point with two fortunate goals.

An entertaining first half was capped by a superb solo strike by Junior Hoilett, but Norwich hit back soon after the restart with an impressive effort of their own from Steve Morison.

The game could have gone either way at that point but two goals in two minutes from Rovers looked to put them in command. Yakubu lashing home on 62 minutes before Chris Samba headed in Morten Gamst Pedersen's free-kick at the back post.

But with Rovers matches are never over until the final whistle is blown and alas that proved to be the case again.

On 82 minutes Norwich were handed a fortunate route back when Bradley Johnson's effort took a huge deflection to loop over Paul Robinson.

Then in time added on the home side were handed a generous penalty decision after the ball struck an unfortunate Nzonzi. Grant Holt making no mistake from 12 yards.

A point before kick-off would have been gratefully received, but having been so close to it being three made the result feel like a loss.

Rovers made three changes from the dramatic Carling Cup victory over Newcastle United in midweek. Paul Robinson returned in goal, Steven Nzonzi came back in midfield after serving his one-match ban, whilst Mauro Formica was back up front alongside Yakubu. Bunn, Petrovic and Goodwillie all dropping to the bench.

Wednesday's goal hero Gael Givet recovered from a hamstring strain to take his place in the heart of the Rovers defence, but Scott Dann didn't make the match.

For the Canaries, they named the same starting eleven for the sixth straight game.

In glorious East Anglia sunshine Rovers started brightly, just two minutes in and Yakubu found strike partner Mauro Formica, but the Argentine fizzed an effort inches over John Ruddy's bar.

Two minutes later and Rovers again threatened, this time from a Pedersen corner kick, Ruddy couldn't hold and from the melee Yakubu hit an overhead kick that Bradley Johnson blocked on the line with his face.

The home side have impressed this season and they grew into the game to show just why. Two of their key performers, Anthony Pilkington and Steve Morison combined on six, the former crossing from the left but Morison somehow fired over from six yards out.

A clash of heads moments later saw double concern for Rovers. Gael Givet and Morten Gamst Pedersen in a collision that saw both players needing treatment for cuts, Givet with a bloody mouth, Pedersen a cut to his face.

It saw them down to nine men for a spell but thankfully both returned.

Ruben Rochina was revelling in his free role and his disguised pass superbly found Yakubu soon after, the Nigerian had time to advance towards goal but blazed over.

Norwich came back once again, this time down the right with Elliott Bennett who found Pilkington but he saw his shot deflect wide.

The resulting corner kick saw the ball come out to David Fox, he let fly from 25 yards but Paul Robinson got down brilliantly to tip the ball past the post.

Bradley Johnson drove over after good work from Wes Hoolahan whilst Leon Bennett could only find the side netting after a quickfire Canary break.

It was certainly entertaining fare, both sides enjoying plenty of opportunities.

As the half drew to a close it was Rovers dominating once again. A Morten Gamst Pedersen saw John Ruddy back pedalling, the goalkeeper just managing to keep the ball from crossing the line as he struggled to claim the ball.

With the home fans whistling for the half time whistle to be blown, Rovers struck in the third of three added minutes with a goal of high quality.

There looked little on for Junior Hoilett as he picked up possession on the left byline, but the young Canadian cut inside feigned to shoot twice before lashing the ball high into the top right corner of the net. It was a superb strike and the perfect way for Rovers to end the first half.

Rovers' achilles heel has been their second half starts and it would once again prove costly as just seven minutes after the turnaround the scores were level.

Following early Norwich pressure Ruben Rochina had the chance to break away but dallied and was caught, suddenly the ball was sent into the Rovers penalty box and although Gael Givet did well to head the ball clear, it went straight to striker Steve Morison outside the box who superbly volleyed first time past the despairing dive of Robinson.

Ninety seconds later and Robinson was called into action once again when a Pilkington cross from the left picked out Bradley Johnson in the area, thankfully the former Leeds man couldn't get enough purchase on the ball allowing the Rovers number one to claim comfortably.

If there were any nerves amongst the Rovers' ranks they didn't show it as the visitors responded in perfect fashion with two goals in as many minutes.

On 62 minutes fine work from Rochina saw him find Mauro Formica who then turned well to thread the ball to Yakubu. The striker needed no second invitation, advancing before hammering the ball past Ruddy. The Norwich 'keeper perhaps should have done better at his near post, but the Yak struck the ball with venom.

Two minutes later and a third Rovers goal was scored. A Junior Hoilett run was halted by a foul and from the resulting free-kick Morten Gamst Pedersen delivered a peach of a ball to the back post where Samba arrived to stoop to head home.

A flurry of substitutes followed, Norwich throwing on forwards a-plenty with Holt, Jackson and Crofts coming on. Rovers themselves making changes as the tiring Yakubu and Rochina were replaced by Goodwillie and David Dunn.

Those Norwich changes gave them a renewed spark, Rovers' thankful for Gael Givet as he slid to intercept a Morison pass that would have seen Simeon Jackson through. Then from the resulting corner kick the ball ricocheted into the grateful arms of Robinson.

A grandstand finish was guaranteed when goal number five arrived, it was fortunate and it was for Norwich.

Simeon Jackson saw his pass deflect into the path of Bradley Johnson, his shot struck the foot of Jason Lowe and the ball looped over the helpless Paul Robinson and into the back of the net.

Rovers went straight back up the other end with a quite unbelievable run from Radosav Petrovic. The Serbian taking on all comers as he ran from inside his own half to the Norwich penalty area, unfortunately his shot was blocked.

It looked for all the world that Rovers had weathered the storm and taken the punch out of the home side, but there was an ominous ring to it when five additional minutes was shown, quite where referee Anthony Taylor found that time was a mystery.

And when your luck is out, your luck is out, with just 90 seconds left on the clock a free-kick was sent into the Rovers box, the ball spun up, Steven Nzonzi turned to see where it had gone and as the ball came down it struck the Frenchman's arm. The referee pointed to the spot, Nzonzi was dumbfounded.

Grant Holt stepped up and although Robinson went the right way, it was struck low, hard and beyond the Rovers number one.

For the second time in three days Rovers had squandered a two-goal lead, only on this occasion there was no time for Steve Kean's side to hit back.

After three games in six days it was a terrible way for Rovers to end the match, they had created many chances, but their inability to keep them out at the other end again proved costly.

It was another point on their travels, but it should have been three.

NORWICH: Ruddy, Martin, Johnson, Morison, Pilkington (sub Jackson 75 mins), Hoolahan (c), Fox (sub Crofts 75 mins), Bennett (sub Holt 68 mins), Barnett, Tierney, Naughton.

Subs not used: Rudd (GK), Surman, Wilbraham, De Laet.

ROVERS: Robinson, Lowe, Samba (c), Givet, Olsson, Rochina (sub Dunn 70 mins), Nzonzi, Pedersen, Hoilett (sub Petrovic 81 mins), Formica, Yakubu (sub Goodwillie 70 mins).

Subs not used: Bunn (GK), Vukcevic, Roberts, Hanley.

Booked: Bennett, Barnett (Norwich)

Attendance: 26,440

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