Charlton's head keeps tails up

Norwich City 2 Portsmouth 2

In her programme notes Delia Smith said that it was time to "keep your head when all around you are losing theirs", although Norwich's main shareholder and cheerleader confessed she didn't know who first said that. Delia can be forgiven the lapse. After all, her career history is more Mr Kipling than Rudyard.

But her sentiments are correct. Norwich have been handed the stickiest of starts with fixtures against four of the big five, so it is little wonder they are in the bottom three. But surviving in the Premiership is not about beating Arsenal, it is about picking up the points at home to Portsmouth. In the end they got just one in a hugely entertaining, fiercely committed encounter in which few heads remained cool.

Both teams have struggled to score of late. Four in one game seemed like gluttony but it could have been so many more. The players seemed to realise that here was a match they should win and went for it. Such expectation made for a rash of errors and missed chances.

Norwich's Leon McKenzie should have had a hat-trick and Portsmouth's Diomansy Kamara was equally profligate. The pick of the goals was a wonderfully struck free-kick by the peerless Patrik Berger, andit was Simon Charlton who saved the day for Norwich with his first goal in nine years. "To come back twice shows we have the character," the Norwich manager Nigel Worthington said. "We are not far away." But still far enough. He claimed that "if it had been a boxing match" it would have been stopped in the second half.

That was pushing it. Portsmouth really should have been out of sight by then. Berger's dipping shot from 25 yards struck the top of the net before Kamara's hapless cameo. Portsmouth's record signing lofted over following Aiyegbeni Yakubu's break and dragged a shot wide following Berger's sweet dummy. Finally the Senegalese striker went on a run, only to miscue another low shot.

For Norwich, McKenzie headed wide when picked out by the lively David Bentley before Berger raised alarm by ducking under the midfielder's corner, allowing the ball to strike a post before Portsmouth took the lead. Unfortunately for Norwich, and for England, it resulted from Robert Green's error. The goalkeeper could only push out Nigel Quashie's admittedly fierce shot from distance and Yakubu turned two defenders in one movement before scoring.

Into the second half and Darren Huckerby charged up his turbo to provide another chance for McKenzie which was sliced horribly, before Yakubu was prevented from scoring a second by Marc Edworthy's fine tackle. Norwich did get a break. Huckerby slalomed into the penalty area and was crudely bundled over by Matthew Taylor. His penalty was saved, but the striker knocked in the rebound.

Back came Portsmouth. A free-kick, just under 30 yards out, was touched to Berger and he thrashed the ball into the net. The game was fluctuating wildly now, as Norwich immediately broke and Charlton nodded in Adam Drury's cross after a scrambled corner. There was time for Berger and substitute Lomana LuaLua to come close before Norwich replacement Paul McVeigh shot fractionally askew.

Gary Holt came closest of all when his strike from 25 yards thudded against the crossbar. "It was not a bad point," said Portsmouth's manager Harry Redknapp, who, with just 14 fit players, bemoaned his threadbare defensive resources. "It was important not to get beaten." But for Delia it remains a case of If.

Suggested Topics
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album