A quite remarkable end to the game saw Norwich City grab a share of the spoils at the death to deny Huddersfield Town a first victory in five attempts at the John Smith’s Stadium this evening in a game that was full of talking points.
James Vaughan looked to have earned Town a hard-fought win in stoppage time, but substitute Jamar Loza snatched an equaliser with the last kick of the game to break Huddersfield hearts.
Ishmael Miller had earlier given the Terriers the lead with his second goal in the blue and white of Town, but Irish international Wes Hoolahan replied shortly after being introduced as a substitute.
Manager Chris Powell was forced in to making three changes to the side that managed a 1-1 draw against Birmingham City due to injury; Jack Robinson (knee), Harry Bunn (hamstring) and Joe Lolley (hip) were replaced by Jake Carroll, Sean Scannell and Ishmael Miller. Incidentally it was Carroll’s first start of the campaign.
Town fashioned the first opening of the game when former Norwich man Vaughan released Miller down the right, but the forward’s cross-come shot was held well by John Ruddy.
There was controversy just moments later as Bradley Johnson seemed to have given the visitors the lead. Nathan Redmond went down the right and stood the ball up for Cameron Jerome, whose knockdown was put in to the back of the net by Johnson. However, after initially giving the goal, referee Nigel Miller disallowed the goal for handball and cautioned Johnson.
Joel Lynch then went close for the home side after getting on the end of a drilled Jacob Butterfield corner, but Ruddy was on hand to tip the header over the bar to safety.
A swift counter-attack then created Town’s best opening of the half. Vaughan sent Conor Coady racing down the right wing and the former Liverpool man cut the ball back to Vaughan but he could only fire wide.
Vaughan was once again in the thick of the action just before the break. Strike partner Miller played a lofted through ball in to the path of Vaughan but England international Ruddy was on hand to smother well.
Gary Hooper then missed a glorious opening to put the visitors ahead on the brink of half-time. Jonny Howson skipped through the Town defence with consummate ease and squared the ball to Hooper but the former Celtic front man fluffed his lines.
Norwich then nearly started the half with a bang. The troublesome Redmond jinked his way in from the right-hand side and played in Johnson on his favoured left-foot, but the former Leeds United player thumped his effort wide of Smithies’ post.
Miller then produced a moment of individual brilliance to put Town in front. Butterfield passed the ball to Ish with his back to goal; he then spun Sebastien Bassong before showing great composure to round Ruddy and smash the ball in to the back of the net.
The goal seemed to spark Alex Neil’s side to in life as they started to crank up the pressure. An intelligent reverse ball from Dorrans on the edge of the Town box found Howson but the midfielder scuffed his effort harmlessly wide.
Howson was then involved as Norwich levelled things up. Substitute Hoolahan played a deft one-two with Howson before coolly slotting the ball past the despairing Smithies.
As the game looked to be heading for a 1-1 draw when the Fourth Official put the board up for five minutes added time, a dramatic ending ensued.
Butterfield played a neat one-two with Oscar Gobern in the corner and then picked out Vaughan who slammed the ball and sent the home fans into raptures with what looked to be the winner. The striker was also shown a second yellow card as he took off his shirt in celebration and Town would have to defend the closing stages with ten men.
Norwich then launched the ball forward in one last desperate attempt to salvage something from the match. Town failed to clear the long ball and Graham Dorrans’ shot fell kindly to Loza who made no mistake from close range to grab the unlikeliest of points for the away side.
Town’s team (3-5-2):
Alex Smithies; Joel Lynch, Mark Hudson (c), Tommy Smith; Jake Carroll, (David Edgar, 70), Conor Coady, Jonathan Hogg, Jacob Butterfield, Sean Scannell; Ishmael Miller (Oscar Gobern, 77), James Vaughan
Joe Murphy, Murray Wallace, Duane Holmes, Jake Charles, Radoslaw Majewski
Joel Lynch, 74
Town red card:
James Vaughan, 90