In terms of improving their predicament at the bottom of the Championship table, a point might be said to be neither here nor there for Norwich after the dreadful run of seven defeats in eight games that put them there. Yet the outcome of Glenn Roeder's debut match in his latest project in management might yet be shown to have been almost as good as a win.
It proved that the passion and fight that Roeder hoped was lurking somewhere beneath the surface among a squad drained of confidence is alive and kicking and needed only an occasion such as this one to bring it to the fore.
Two goals behind at half-time despite having put together their best 45 minutes of the season, a second-half capitulation from Norwich would not have come as a major surprise, particularly against oppon-ents whose promotion credentials are already set out. Instead, they revealed the character to fight back.
"I had spoken to the players during the week about the need to show the mental strength when you go a goal behind to play as if you are a goal up," Roeder said. "So when they came off at half-time, although I pointed out one or two things, I told them they did not deserve to be a goal behind, let alone two, and to remember what I had said. We did that and we got the result."
But it was Ipswich's efficiency in taking chances that made the early difference. Where Norwich were drawing saves from a hard-worked Neil Alexander or missing the target when it seemed easier to score, their bitterest rivals created only three opportunities but achieved the objective with two of them.
Norwich may have had grounds to feel hard done by with the second, when the ball looked to be out of play as Billy Clarke hooked it back across goal for Pablo Counago to tap in, but there could be no argument about the first goal, when Alan Lee executed a perfect piece of centre-forward play, flicking on a deep kick from his goalkeeper before spinning around to take the return pass from Counago and drilling the ball into the corner of the goal.
After Jason Shackell had headed against an upright, Dion Dublin had been brilliantly defied by the first of Alexander's saves and Jamie Cureton had missed two near-open goals, Norwich had reason to feel frustrated but, in accordance with Roeder's instructions, they delivered more of the same after the break.
It paid off, in good part due to John Hartson. Sent on at half-time, it was the former Welsh international who won the corner from which Martin Taylor – Roeder's first signing, on loan from Birmingham – headed Norwich's first goal, and he who flicked the ball into the path of Cureton for the 67th-minute equaliser, when his co-striker proved unfazed by his earlier misses by producing the deftest of touches to chip over the advancing Alexander.
Ipswich might have stolen a win. Lee was denied a goal when Clarke was caught offside, Simon Lappin cleared off the line from Jonathan Walters and keeper David Marshall made a point-blank stop from Danny Haynes. But the result was the right one and Roeder could reflect that a standard had been set, with the leaders, Watford, due at Carrow Road tomorrow.
The only sour note was a stoppage-time red card for Darren Huckerby for going in with his studs on Walters, triggering an automatic three-match ban.
Goals: Lee (26) 0-1; Counago (39) 0-2; Taylor (54) 1-2; Cureton (66) 2-2.
Norwich City (4-4-2): Marshall; Otsemobor, Taylor, Shackell, Lappin; Chadwick (Croft, 75), Brellier, Russell, Huckerby; Cureton (Smith, 81), Dublin (Hartson, h-t). Substitutes not used: Gilks (gk), Murray.
Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Alexander; Wright, De Vos, Wilnis, Harding; Walters, Garvan, Legswinski (Haynes, 74), Clarke (Roberts, 81); Counago (Trotter, 74), Lee. Substitutes not used: Supple (gk), Bruce.
Referee: R Styles (Hampshire).
Booked: Norwich Brellier, Hartson; Ipswich Legswinski, Counago, Roberts. Sent off: Huckerby.
Man of the match: Cureton.
Attendance: 25,461.Reuse content