Norwich City 1, Stoke City 1
An injury-time equaliser from Kenwyne Jones denied Norwich City all three points at Carrow Road after the Canaries had played most of the second-half with 10 men.
An injury-time equaliser from Stoke City striker Kenwyne Jones denied Norwich City all three points at Carrow Road after the Canaries had played most of the second-half with 10 men.
Leon Barnett was given his marching orders in the 64th minute after bringing down Jon Walters inside the penalty area and, although the former Ipswich Town man's penalty was saved, Jones struck late on to earn the Potters a point.
Stoke probably just about merited a share of the spoils after piling on the pressure in the second half.
Ritchie De Laet had given Norwich the lead in the first period when he rose highest to head home a Bradley Johnson free-kick in the first half and, after a fantastic rearguard action, it looked enough to secure victory.
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However, Jones thought otherwise and his predatory strike inside the six-yard area meant it ended all square.
City skipper Grant Holt got a taste of what was in store for him within the first 10 seconds when he was knocked flying by Marc Wilson in an aerial challenge.
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But the Canaries showed they were more than up to the Potters' physical tactics in the first period with Anthony Pilkington in particular shining down the left wing.
It wasn't all plain sailing in for Lambert's men however and on another day referee Neil Swarbrick may have decided to point to the spot when De Laet looked very high in his challenge on Jon Walters but Stoke's protests were waved away.
City had a penalty shout of their own shortly after when Robert Huth's clumsy challenge on Leon Barnett went unpunished, much to the home crowd's dismay.
Shorn of Rory Delap and his long throw, Stoke didn't look to have the threat going forward that many predicted whereas City looked incisive down the flanks through Pilkington and Bennett.
Only a fantastic block from Ryan Shawcross prevented City from hitting the front in the 22nd minute when Pilkington latched on to Holt's knockdown after a great cross to the back post from Bennett.
The �2m summer signing from Huddersfield looked all set to mark his home debut with a goal as his right-footed effort from 10 yards arrowed towards the bottom corner but Shawcross made the sort of captain's block that any skipper would be proud of.
Just before the half-hour mark Ruddy had to be alert to beat away a Matt Ethertington effort after a Stoke breakaway but the Potters were dealt a blow shortly after when opposite wing man Jermaine Pennant limped off to be replaced by Danny Pugh.
The change seemed to affect Stoke and Norwich seized the initiative. Nice interplay between Chris Martin and Bennett down the right flank resulted in the latter be scythed down by Jonathan Woodgate on the touchline.
The tackle earned the former Tottenham man a yellow card and his mood would not have improved as City took the lead from the free kick.
Bradley Johnson's in-swinging left-footed free kick was met perfectly by De Laet with the defender glancing home from 12 yards to send the home faithful wild.
It almost got better for City five minutes before the break when, in trying to cut out Bennett's cross from the right, Woodgate forced Begovic into a smart save at his near post.
Stoke served notice of their intentions at the start of the second period as the Potters twice threatened to get back on level terms. Jones almost bulldozed his way through the City back four before the ball ran to Pugh on the left, who blazed over while Walters shot over from a narrow angle under pressure from De Laet.
But Norwich responded in kind as Chris Martin's smart left-footed effort from the edge of the box forced Begovic into a reaction save.
Norwich were being forced further on to the backfoot though and when Holt gave away a cheap free kick on the edge of the area in the 58th minute for a challenge on Glenn Whelan many feared the worst.
Stoke players jostled for position within the Norwich wall but Ethertington's free-kick floated over the top of all of them and was heading for the top corner until Ruddy tipped over.
The former Everton shot-stopper earned his place within the home crowd's affections still further in the 64th minute when Swarbrick adjudged Barnett's challenge on Walters to be inside the area and pointed to the spot. The referee decided the defender had prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity and produced a red card.
Walters stepped up but his low right-footed effort was brilliantly saved by Ruddy.
The relief soon turned to worry upon the realisation that Norwich would have to play for nearly half an hour with 10 men. Daniel Ayala replaced Pilkington to ensure City had two recognised centre halves.
Walters went close once again when he got on the wrong side of De Laet but he sliced his shot wide with a clear view of Ruddy's goal.
Ryan Shotton was brought on for Jonathan Woodgate and within a minute showed he had the sort of Rory Delap throw City had to be wary of. Fortunately, Ruddy was down well to stop Crofts inadvertently flicking the ball into his own net.
Shotton showed that he was more than just a long throw though in the 81st minute when he made good progress down the right and his fierce cross almost caught out Ruddy but the keeper tipped behind for a corner.
Only excellent defending from Holt prevented Stoke from making it 1-1 from the corner when he got his body between Shawcross and the ball and stopped the defender from having an easy tap-in.
Jones had a great chance to earn his side a share of the spoils when he met Shotton's cross but, from six yards out, he somehow blazed over.
The former Sunderland man made amends though three minutes into injury time when he met Whelan's clipped cross with a firm header to earn his side a point.
• Norwich City (4-4-2): Ruddy, Naughton, De Laet, Barnett, Tierney, Bennett (Surman, 74), Johnson, Crofts, Pilkington (Ayala, 66), C Martin (Jackson, 84), Holt. Subs not used: Rudd, R Martin, Hoolahan, Fox.
• Stoke City (4-4-2): Begovic, Huth, Woodgate (Shotton, 77), Shawcross, Wilson, Pennant (Pugh, 31), Whelan, Whitehead, Etherington, Walters, Jones. Subs not used: Sorensen, Collins, Upson, Wilkinson, Arismendi.
• Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancs)
• Attendance: 26,272