Canaries' ambitions frustrated by Oxford

Norwich City 1 Oxford United 1
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After a contretemps in the Coca-Cola Cup which ended with Norwich reduced to nine men, Oxford were never going to figure high on the Carrow Road preferred guest list and yesterday, to immense local frustration, they succeeded in their ambition of holding up the Canaries' promotion push.

If Norwich do miss out on one of the four First Division play-off places, they will know where to point the finger. Of late, they have not been at home on their own patch of turf, this draw completing a sorry sequence which has yielded just one victory in six attempts.

On the other hand, if they are to prolong their interest then it will be to Darren Eadie that most thanks are due. When he gave Norwich a 10th- minute lead with his 10th goal in his last 13 outings, they looked set fair to build on Saturday's convincing win at Swindon.

It was a characteristic finish, coolly executed after Eadie, receiving a long pass from Matt Jackson, had retained his balance despite a lumbering defensive challenge.

Oxford failed to learn from that, and on the half-hour Ian Crook's vision had Eadie scurrying through again and once more only Phil Whitehead in goal stood in his way.

This time the winger elected to lift the ball over Whitehead, but succeeded only in carrying it beyond the crossbar as well. The importance of that missed opportunity was underlined almost immediately as Oxford transferred the play to the other end and fashioned an equaliser.

Paul Moody had already signposted the visitors' threat with two spurned chances, but when Darren Purse launched a long ball from deep, Moody displayed an ability to steer the ball accurately across and in came Stuart Massey to guide the ball beyond Bryan Gunn.

So Carrow Road was left to reflect on two vital points dropped, although the Norwich manager, Mike Walker, found a silver lining. "You think you have been kicked in the teeth, but then you get back to the dressing-room and discover that with the other results things are not so bad after all," he said.

Norwich City (3-5-2): Gunn; Bradshaw (Polston, 78), Jackson, Newman; Adams, Milligan, Crook, Eadie, Sutch; Broughton (Forbes, 81), Fleck. Substitute not used: Mills.

Oxford United (4-4-2): Whitehead; Robinson, Purse, Gilchrist, M Ford; Gray, Smith, Murphy (Beauchamp, 81), Massey; Moody (Aldridge, 71), Jemson. Substitute not used: Whyte.

Referee: J Kirkby (Sheffield).