Watford 2, Norwich City 2

Substitute Simeon Jackson preserved two of Norwich City's proud records under manager Paul Lambert with the goal that earned the promotion-chasers a precious point at Vicarage Road – but it was not enough to keep them in that prized second place in the Championship table.

Substitute Simeon Jackson preserved two of Norwich City's proud records under manager Paul Lambert with the goal that earned the promotion-chasers a precious point at Vicarage Road – but it was not enough to keep them in that prized second place in the Championship table.

Trailing 2-1 at the interval to Malky Mackay's Watford, the Canaries were in danger of being doubled for the first time in Lambert's reign, and also of losing two successive games in the same season for the first time under their boss.

Jackson delivered the equaliser, his eighth goal of the season, 20 minutes from the end of an eventful second half after replacing first-half scorer Sam Vokes, who had given City the lead in only the second minute.

But the most worrying sight for City's 2,300 supporters was that of skipper Grant Holt clutching the top of his left leg after pulling up sharply in the closing stages of the match – no way to conclude his 30th birthday.

Cardiff's 2-0 victory at Sheffield United enabled them to move into second place while the Canaries slipped to third, one point behind, with Swansea a point further adrift – and five games to play.

With Wes Hoolahan ruled out for the second game in a row by hamstring trouble, Lambert made one change to the starting eleven from the 3-0 defeat at Swansea. On-loan striker Vokes made his first start and Henri Lansbury was relegated to the substitutes' bench, where there was one other change with Stephen Hughes replacing Korey Smith, who had an eye infection - Hughes' first involvement in the squad since September.

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There was a dream start for the Canaries as they took the lead in the second minute through Vokes.

Watford skipper John Eustace's poor clearance was blocked by Dani Pacheco and Holt helped the ball on for Vokes, who connected well enough for his effort to bounce over the diving Scott Loach.

The Hornets had the chance to level two minutes later when Don Cowie's cross was met by a Danny Graham shot that was blocked, with the ball scrambled away before Marvin Sordell could pounce.

Vokes headed just wide from a Holt cross as Watford continued to look shaky at the back on a surface that was cutting up early on.

Graham had another opportunity to level in the 18th minute when Elliott Ward's poor header left him with a shooting chance but goalkeeper John Ruddy saved comfortably.

At the other end, Holt might have doubled his side's lead when he hooked a shot over the top after chesting down Marc Tierney's cross.

Tierney was back on the edge of his own area minutes later to make a vital block from Lloyd Doyley's shot as the Hornets sensed an opening.

It was all square in the 26th minute, however when Graham scored his 27th goal of the season. He burst through as City lost possession in midfield and attempted a one-two, but the ball appeared to come back to him off Ward and he struck a low drive that Ruddy looked to have kept out, but there was enough power on the shot to carry on rolling into the net.

Graham went from scorer to provider 10 minutes later when his storming run set up the goal that gave Watford the lead. Despite being impeded by Zak Whitbread just inside the Norwich half, Graham managed to break clear on the right and his low centre found Cowie, who showed deft control in a tight situation before rifling a right-foot shot into the roof of the net.

Another rocket of a shot from Graham won a corner in first half stoppage time as it flew out off Ward, but Martin Taylor headed over from Sordell's kick.

• HALF-TIME: Watford 2, Norwich City 1

A Pacheco free-kick was City's first effort after the break, his ambitious long-range effort curling past the angle of bar and post.

A timely challenge by Doyley denied Russell Martin a shooting chance as Tierney's cross reached him in the Watford area.

With just over half an hour left, Lambert made a double change replacing Pacheco with Anthony McNamee and goalscorer Vokes with Jackson.

On the hour, Jackson was denied by a fine save by Loach when he got his head to Martin's cross, but moments later he blazed over after good work by McNamee.

Graham missed a golden chance to make it 3-1 when he poked the ball wide from two yards out after Deeney had knocked back Doyley's cross.

City threw on a third substitute in Lansbury and Holt was unlucky moments later when Loach turned away his thumping left-foot drive after good work by substitutes McNamee and Jackson.

City were level with just over 20 minutes left, however, when Jackson grabbed his eighth goal of the season. David Fox's free-kick from the left was aimed towards Holt but as the City skipper fell backwards with Eustace and the defence froze, Jackson reacted to rifle the loose ball home.

Tempers were becoming frayed and after the referee stopped play to speak to both managers, Ward was booked for dissent.

With just four minutes to go, Loach produced an acrobatic leap to keep out Holt's dipping shot from wide on the right after a crossfield pass from Fox.

There was a worrying sight for City with the seconds ticking away, however, as Holt appeared to pull up as he challenged Mariappa on halfway and was left clutching the top of his left leg.

Loach had to dash out to foil Jackson in stoppage time after a backheader from Mariappa threatened to leave him short, while Holt continued to look in some discomfort.

Fox fired wide with the final shot of the night, leaving City with a point – not ideal but by no means a disaster.

• RESULT: Watford 2, Norwich City 2

• Watford: Loach; Hodson, Taylor, Mariappa, Doyley; Deeney, Eustace, Jenkins, Cowie; Graham, Sordell

Subs: Gilmartin, Thompson, Drinkwater (for Jenkins, 84), Whichelow, Mingoia, Buckley, Weimann (for Sordell, 72).

• Norwich City: Ruddy; R Martin, Whitbread, Ward, Tierney; Fox, Crofts, Surman, Pacheco; Vokes, Holt.

Subs: Rudd, Edwards, Lappin, Hughes, McNamee (for Pacheco, 58), Lansbury (for Surman, 63), Jackson (for Vokes, 58).

• Referee: Anthony Taylor (Greater Manchester)

• Attendance: 13,777 (2,232 City fans)

• Goals: Watford: Graham (26), Cowie (36), Norwich: Vokes (2), Jackson (69)

• Bookings: Watford: Graham (dissent, 50), Eustace (dissent, 73). Norwich: Holt (foul on Mariappa, 45), Ward (dissent, 79)