Football: Palmer closes Watford gap

Norwich City 1 Watford 1
HONOURS WERE even in this rugged encounter between two First Division promotion contenders at Carrow Road. The point earned by Norwich took them to seventh place, two behind Watford, but neither side showed much to worry prospective Premiership opponents.

The early exchanges were fast and furious, with neither side able to create any clear-cut chances. The visitors looked most purposeful, with Gifton Noel-Williams and Allan Smart menacing up front. After Noel-Williams flicked on a left-wing corner in the 23rd minute, Watford got the ball in the net, but Robert Page was penalised for shoving the goalkeeper in before connecting with a header.

Page's next contribution was a bad foul on Neil Adams which brought a yellow card. Darren Eadie, for dissent, quickly followed him into the book. When he kept his temper, Eadie, with his pace and skill, was the home side's most potent weapon.

The first half ended with neither goalkeeper troubled. Chris Llewellyn wasted Norwich's best chance in the last minute of the half, heading wide from Eadie's cross.

After the interval Smart and Ben Iroha were booked as Watford resorted to foul means to prevent home attacks. The visitors paid a heavy price for the Nigerian international's offence, for Norwich led from the resulting 54th minute free-kick.

Eadie's delivery from the right wing had enough pace to get past everyone except his fellow striker, Roberts, who bundled the ball over the line at the far post, despite Alec Chamberlain's efforts to keep it out.

Watford's threat came from dead balls, and a Micah Hyde free-kick from the left was just missed by Page at the far post.

Just when it seemed as though the Canaries might cling on to all three points, Watford equalised nine minutes from the end. The home defence failed to clear a Peter Kennedy free-kick from the right and Steve Palmer drove the ball home. Norwich thought they had a last-minute winner but Matt Jackson's header from a corner was disallowed for pushing.

Bruce Rioch, the Norwich manager, admitted: "It wasn't the most fluent game. You had to earn the right to play and chances were at a premium. Our effort was terrific though".

Watford's assistant manager, Kenny Jackett, said: "It was a fair result. Both sides are capable of playing better".

Norwich City (4-4-2): Watt; Sutch, Jackson, Mackay, Fuglestad; Adams, L Marshall, Grant, Llewellyn; Eadie, Roberts. Substitutes not used: Fleming, Coote, Russell.

Watford (4-4-2): Chamberlain; Bazeley, Palmer, Page, Iroha; Gudmundsson (Mooney, h-t), Hyde, Johnson, Kennedy; Smart (Rosenthal, 64), Noel-Williams (Robinson 80).

Referee: C Wilkes (Corse).