Penalty hero Ruddy feels for Barnett over ‘harsh’ red

John Ruddy was a tower of strength as Norwich City ultimately had to settle for a draw from the opening home fixture of their Premier League campaign.

It was an afternoon that got busier as it went on for the Canaries keeper, who produced an excellent save from Jonathan Walters' second half penalty to preserve City's lead.

The big man was in dominant form – but could do little to prevent Kenwyne Jones' equaliser in the fourth minute of added time, as City's 10 men eventually buckled under some intense Stoke pressure.

However, the fact the Canaries found themselves a man down for the final 30 minutes was Ruddy's main bone of contention.

Centre-back Leon Barnett was the man told to walk, after he allowed ex-Ipswich man Walters to get in front of him.

The striker went down in instalments – the first of which were probably outside the area – but it was enough for referee Neil Swarbrick to award a penalty and dismiss the City defender.

'I haven't seen it again now, but my initial thought was it was outside the box and the red card is harsh,' said Ruddy. 'You saw it last week with Kieran Richardson, only got a yellow (for a similar challenge in Sunderland's draw at Liverpool).

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'Again it seems we're talking about the consistency of referees and that shouldn't be the case. But he's made a decision and we defended valiantly for 25 minutes against a very good Stoke side.

'Leon is a little bit down and he feels a little bit harshly treated, but we'll have a look back and decide what we want to do – whether an appeal is worth it, you never know these days.'

It was looking like Norwich would hold out as Stoke misfired and Ruddy claimed everything within 20 yards – his spot kick save sending Carrow Road into temporary delirium.

'It did mean a lot to myself and to the rest of the lads, especially with going down to 10 men, and you could see how much it meant to the fans as well,' said Ruddy, not that his save came from hours of training ground home work.

'I didn't even know he was the penalty taker – he just came up and grabbed the ball off me, so I thought it was first come first served.

'I had an inkling of which way he was going to go. Barny took a while to get off the pitch as well, which I don't think helped him.

'I think for the fans too, with him being an ex-Ipswich player, it was nice for them as well. You take these things into consideration.

'But it was good to get that under my belt and that's the standard I've set for myself now, so that's what I need to keep doing.'

A crowd of 26,272 welcomed Premier League football back to Carrow Road yesterday and as far as Ruddy is concerned, City's second draw in succession on their top flight return proves City can compete.

'I think today and last week, it's showed what we're all about,' he said. 'Last week was a good footballing game. Wigan like to play and we like to play.

'And this week against Stoke you know what you're getting. No disrespect to them, but they are very big and direct and we dealt with their threats for the whole game, except for the one at the end.

'There are so many positives to take out of the two games into the ones coming up,' he added – with a trip to Chelsea next on the horizon.