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
News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
newsIn short, yes
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Life and Style
Cara Delevigne at the TopShop Unique show during London Fashion Week
fashion
News
The life-sized tribute to Amy Winehouse was designed by Scott Eaton and was erected at the Stables Market in Camden
peopleBut quite what the singer would have made of her new statue...
Sport
England's Andy Sullivan poses with his trophy and an astronaut after winning a trip to space
sport
News
peopleThe actress has agreed to host the Met Gala Ball - but not until 2015
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories