Huckerby's veneer of class saving grace of stalemate

West Bromwich Albion 0 - Norwich City 0

This was definitely not one to satisfy the Hawthorns crowd, who gave their verdict at Phil Crossley's last blast on his whistle with a round of boos. Nor was it one for the Match of the Day editors. They had to dig deep for a highlights package worthy of the name.

As it disappeared quickly from memory, the second successive goalless draw between the sides did have something for the anoraks; namely the curious movement of Norwich City in the Premiership table.

Those interested in statistics might enjoy discussing when a club last reached the final third of October without a win, yet still used a point from their ninth fixture to climb out of the relegation places.

Somewhat unflatteringly, considering a start that included Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle, Nigel Worthington's side had been propping up the rest of the division. With a goalless draw that was the least they deserved, they have now handed that baton back to Crystal Palace and underlined why they and Albion remain realistically focussed on consolidation.

Gary Megson wrote this one off afterwards as a non-event, presumably talking from his own side's viewpoint. If not, he was doing little justice to Norwich, who were well organised, sprightly and creative - for the first hour at least.

"We've been sitting in the dressing-room wondering how we haven't won," said their skipper, Adam Drury. "We had good chances, not just half-chances." In Darren Huckerby, the man who shunned the Throstles, chose the Canaries and on Saturday received the inevitable bird, they had the best forward on view. He put one chance on a plate for Leon McKenzie and generally looked the Premiership act Megson believes he is.

"He's a threat and everyone who faces him will find that out," said the former Norwich manager. "I'm just glad we've got this one out of the way with a point after the international fortnight." Megson believes Rob Earnshaw can eventually be a force in the Huckerby style. The Wales striker is still without a goal for Albion and is currently being blooded from the substitutes' bench. Such was the paucity of Albion's attacking ideas, though, that he may not have to wait much longer for a run in the starting side.

His new club failed to build on the impetus generated by their victory over Bolton Wanderers a fortnight ago and the cause of Robert Green's biggest moment of concern said plenty; it was the wayward boot of his team-mate Gary Holt, rather than any opponent, that forced him into a fine reflex save just before the interval at the end of Albion's best move.

For both clubs, a shortage of goals remains the main barrier to survival.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Hoult; Haas, Moore, Gaardsoe, Albrechtsen; Gera (Robinson, 80), Scimeca, Johnson, Greening (Koumas, 69); Horsfield, Kanu (Earnshaw, 58). Substitutes not used: Kuszczak (gk), Contra.

Norwich City (4-4-2): Green; Edworthy, Fleming, Charlton, Drury; Jonson (Helveg, 75), Holt, Francis, Bentley (McVeigh, 76); Huckerby, McKenzie (Svensson, 79). Substitutes not used: Ward (gk), Safri.

Referee: P Crossley (Kent).

Booked: West Brom: Moore, Johnson. Norwich: McKenzie, Bentley.

Man of the match: Huckerby.

Attendance: 26,257.

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