Huckerby so daring but Canaries still luckless

West Bromwich Albion 0 - Norwich City 0
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The Independent Football

Norwich are still without a win in the Premiership but they could well have broken their duck against fellow strugglers West Brom. With Darren Huckerby in rampant form, Norwich deserved better than their sixth draw of the season.

Norwich are still without a win in the Premiership but they could well have broken their duck against fellow strugglers West Brom. With Darren Huckerby in rampant form, Norwich deserved better than their sixth draw of the season.

The fact that this was one of those "six-point" contests, with the season in only its third month, was indication enough of the troubles both clubs already find themselves in on their return to the Premiership. There were also enough players prepared to put bite into their tackles to keep the referee, Phil Crossley, fully occupied on his debut in the top division.

Albion left their Welsh internationals, Jason Koumas and Robert Earnshaw, on the bench, preferring to pair the skills of Nwankwo Kanu with the battering-ram style of Geoff Horsfield up front, and there was an early scare for Norwich as the Hungarian Zoltan Gera came through the middle to bend his shot fractionally wide.

Yet once the visitors had settled to the game's frenzied pace, they caused plenty of concern to Albion's back line. Huckerby, relentlessly booed because he preferred to join Norwich rather than the home side, was a regular threat with his pace.

When he got away on the right Huckerby supplied a measured cross that picked out Leon McKenzie for a volley at leisure, but the effort was too high to cause Russell Hoult any concern. Next, Albion were caught on the hop by a short corner, but when the centre came in Gary Holt also got too much elevation on his volley.

As Norwich continued to look more composed and impressive, Huckerby galloped in once again from the right touchline to unleash a fierce drive that Hoult did well to cling on to. Before Albion had recovered from that escape, Huckerby was darting away again in pursuit of a fine through ball from McKenzie. With Thomas Gaardsoe and Bernt Haas labouring in his wake, Huckerby should have done much better than scoop weakly wide.

Huckerby then turned provider when he supplied Mattias Jonson with an angled opening but the Swede could only hit the side netting. The closest to a goal came in the last seconds of the opening half as Jonathan Greening's low cross was driven at pace towards his own goal by Holt. It needed a full-length sprawl from Robert Green to avert disaster.

Norwich continued to show the way after the interval, and Albion had to thank the excellence of Hoult for denying the visitors the lead. Although falling back into his net, the keeper brilliantly pushed away Jonson's close-range header.

When it came to commitment, normally Albion's stock-in-trade, Norwich were also clearly superior, as the murmurings of the home fans indicated. As the bookings mounted and the substitutes' board was flourished on a regular basis, Albion raised a flurry of hope. Greening's shot was too hot for Green to hold but Craig Fleming stuck in a boot to deny Horsfield's attempt to find the untenanted net.

The disappointing Kanu, who had found the pace and fury too much for him, made way for Earnshaw, whose darting runs at least aroused Albion's unhappy supporters. However, Norwich were far too composed at the back and a looping header from Horsfield, which sailed into the crowd, was the best they could manage as a riposte to the Canaries' command of the afternoon.

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