Canaries knock Toon off perch
By Alex Dunn
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Norwich City came from two goals behind at Newcastle to claim an impressive 2-2 draw.Norwich City came from two goals behind at Newcastle to claim an impressive 2-2 draw at St James' Park thanks to a Gary Doherty leveller.
The awkward striker struck in the 74th minute to complete a deserved fightback for Nigel Worthington's industrious and impressive side.
In a first period in which chances were at a premium, Norwich acquitted themselves with the type of resolve which suggests they are not to be the cannon fodder many predict.
Steely at the back and marshalled with authority by the veteran Craig Fleming, Worthington's new boys restricted the St James' Park faithful to peripheral moments of tricky wide play but precious little in terms of genuine opportunity.
Newcastle began the opening stages with customary pace and verve on the flanks and from a cross from Laurent Robert, fellow wide man James Milner ghosted into the Norwich box to head home - only to see his effort ruled out as the ball was adjudged to have run out.
Milner then drilled an effort into the throat of Norwich custodian Robert Green on ten minutes, before Darren Huckerby squandered the type of chance that has haunted his career.
Eager to impress against the club who once deemed him surplus to requirements, Huckerby showed pace and good feet in cutting inside Andy O'Brien but with the goal asking to be hit, the pacey Canary struck his effort wide.
Newcastle toiled with possession but with precision lacking, Norwich grasped a foothold and began to play with poise and confidence.
New boy Doherty was all awkward elbows and had a willing partner in the jet-heeled Huckerby - albeit one who has yet to grasp fully the concept of offside.
As the half drew to its close, Norwich forced a series of corners but on the counter, the cocksure Milner reversed a pass to a marauding Stephen Carr and his cross found a previously peripheral Alan Shearer.
Rising above his marker, the veteran headed into the path of Craig Bellamy and the Welshman was able to turn adroitly and fire past a despondent Green from 12 yards.
The second half had all the endeavour of the first but also chances - with both sides spurning and dispatching in an enthralling encounter.
Five minutes in to the restart and Norwich looked a side doomed, as Aaron Hughes was left unmarked in the box and from Robert's devilish corner he stooped to double Newcastle's advantage.
For a moment an onslaught looked inevitable but after Bellamy missed when through on goal, Norwich began their unlikely fightback.
Marc Edworthy showed agility to head off the line from a Shearer header but then David Bentley weaved a pretty path through a series of lethargic tackles and shot from outside of the box.
Shay Given lowered himself to meet the drive but lost concentration, to allow the ball to slip from his grasp to reduce the deficit to a single goal.
Doherty could have levelled with a free header but on the break, Newcastle looked ready to end the contest.
Still, credit to Norwich and when substitute Mattias Jonson spurned a glorious opportunity, the game looked beyond them.
On that occasion Given saved well for a corner and from the resulting set piece, after the ball landed at the feet of an advanced Fleming he shot from an acute angle.
The ball was parried by the Newcastle shot-stopper and Doherty pounced to stab home in the 74th minute.
Shearer could have found the winner but was thwarted by a courageous Fleming intervention and then at the other end, Huckerby unleashed a majestic volley only narrowly over.
The game was a contest that enthralled and in the final minute, after chances for both sides, Newcastle sub Lee Bowyer forced an assured stop from Green in the Norwich goal to secure a deserved point.
Click here for player ratings.
| ||Newcastle United||Norwich City|
|Shots on target||8||5|
|Shots off target||6||8|