Mark Clattenburg jeered during Southampton's draw with Norwich on difficult return to action

Southampton 1 Norwich City 1

St Mary's

They say that the best refereeing performances are the ones you don’t notice, but Mark Clattenburg was never going to be that lucky on his return to Premier League action.

The St Mary's crowd were all too aware that it was Clattenburg's first match back in the middle since being accused of making a racist remark to John Obi Mikel during the Chelsea versus Manchester United match on 28 October, and he spent most of the game with their jeers ringing in his ears, while both managers felt that a refereeing error had played a part in the goal their team had conceded.

It is a poor game when the referee is the central figure, and this one certainly qualified. The home supporters had hoped to see Saints move back out of the bottom three with a third successive win but instead Robert Snodgrass's equaliser allowed Norwich to stretch their unbeaten league run to seven matches with their fourth successive draw on the road – despite the absence of England goalkeeper John Ruddy, who will miss three months after surgery this weekend on a thigh injury.

The chants of "You're not fit to referee" began after 23 minutes of frustration for the home fans but they were overjoyed nine minutes later as Clattenburg finally awarded their team a free-kick and even more delighted when it led to a goal – and one he should probably have disallowed. Adam Lallana flighted the ball in from the left, and it hit Lambert's arm before rebounding back off Grant Holt and dropping for the Saints top scorer to poke in his sixth goal of the season, and only the second Norwich had conceded in five games.

"I think [it was handball] but it was difficult for the referee and there were a lot of bodies around," Chris Hughton, the Norwich manager, said. "He's an excellent referee and I speak for most when I say I'm delighted to see him back. We need the best referees performing week in and week out."

Norwich levelled late in the first half thanks to a dreadful error by Paulo Gazzaniga, the goalkeeper, but Nigel Adkins, the Southampton manager, questioned Clattenburg's award of a free-kick for Nathaniel Clyne's challenge on Snodgrass, who picked himself up to bend the ball round a poorly set-up wall and under Gazzaniga's dive.

"I didn't think it was a free-kick and I'm disappointed it was given but the keeper knows he's got to save that," Adkins said. "I think he [Clattenburg] made some interesting calls, but he's a fine referee and I'm glad to see him back." After a dismal second half, blowing the final whistle was Clattenburg's best decision of the night – and about the only one that nobody disputed.

Man of the Match Lallana.

Match rating 7/10.

Referee M Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

Attendance 29,325.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
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

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project