A furious Alan Pardew confronted referee Ray Olivier in an ugly scene at the end of a thrilling 1-1 draw at top-of-the-table Norwich City, and the West Ham manager's angry response to the controversial dismissal of Matthew Etherington four minutes from time marred an afternoon of celebration and entertainment at Carrow Road.
Before kick-off, the ground's impressive new stand was officially opened with a full house in attendance to see former manager Ken Brown, who led the club to the Milk Cup in 1985, Martin Peters, the 1966 World Cup winner who played for both sides, John Bond and Graham Paddon, also with connections to the visitors, paraded on the pitch.
But the scenes at the end, in which Pardew stormed across the pitch raging at Olivier's somewhat strange decision to brandish a second yellow at Etherington for failing to place the ball in the correct place for a corner-kick, took the shine off a historic day for Norwich.
"I told the referee he was weak," Pardew said. "The sending off didn't affect this game but it will affect another one, because Matthew will miss a game now. He didn't know what was going on and thought something was happening somewhere else. I think the ref has got to be strong there and not give in to the crowd. It was ridiculous and I was frustrated."
But Nigel Worthington, the Norwich manager, was critical of his counterpart's actions and said: "It is down to their manager and I don't think that has a place in football. But if that is the way they want to behave that is up to them. I don't think it helped."
West Ham were guilty of wasting three chances in one passage of play within the opening three minutes. Etherington and David Connolly first failed to connect with Bobby Zamora's ball across goal, the provider then saw a shot of his own blocked on the line by Malky Mackay and, from the resulting corner, Jon Harley struck a right-foot effort inches wide of the target. Norwich winger Jim Brennan twice shot tamely at goalkeeper Stephen Bywater, Iwan Roberts headed wide of the target, while at the other end Zamora failed to connect when sliding to meet Etherington's driven cross.
Norwich enjoyed a spell of pressure late in the first half as Damien Francis mis-hit a shot the wrong side of the upright from a Roberts flick-on. After the restart, Christian Dailly also came to West Ham's rescue with a timely interception six yards from goal after Darren Huckerby had toe-poked past the advancing Bywater.
Marlon Harewood produced a special finish in the 61st minute to break the deadlock when he unleashed a 25-yard drive which sailed past goalkeeper Robert Green. Norwich levelled 14 minutes from time when Tomas Repka's attempted back-header to Bywater fell short and the pace of Huckerby all-owed him to round the West Ham goalkeeper and curl the ball home into the empty net.
Etherington, booked earlier in the second half for a foul, was given his marching orders in the 86th minute for a second bookable offence when referee Olivier deemed the winger's placing of the ball outside the quadrant, despite repeated reminders, warranted a yellow card.
Norwich City 1
West Ham United 1
Half-time: 0-0 Attendance: 23,940
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