Once again a Premier League match will be talked about because of a referee’s decision, rather than for a really good performance by ten-man Norwich as they held Sunderland to a 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light.
Norwich took a surprise lead in the 25th minute as Wes Hoolahan’s header flew into the back of the net. The goal had come from Robert Snodgrass’ corner which was knocked down by Kai Camara.
And then the drama began in the 30th minute. Mark Bunn came running out of his box with his hands at chest height and as Danny Graham attempted to chip the ball over the keeper, it didn’t get far and hit Bunn’s hand.
The referee had no choice but to send him off, much to the chagrin of the Nowich players. Chris Hughton was forced to take off scorer Hoolahan and replace him with third choice keeper, Lee Camp.
Just ten minutes later, there was another handball decision although this one seemed less clear-cut, as the ball bounced off Sebastian Bassong’s chest and onto his arm to give the home side a penalty. Craig Gardner stepped up and slotted the ball home to send the Black Cats level five minutes before half-time.
With their visitors down to ten you would’ve expected Sunderland to kick on after the break but like many times this season they were unable to get the necessary breakthrough.
Norwich defended well and they may have won the game in the 70th minute had the referee seen that the game third handball by Danny rose, was actually inside the box and should have been a penalty for the Canaries. Not the free-kick that was awarded and subsequently wasted.
Chris Hughton will be the happier of the two managers as his Norwich team look to have secured safety, while Martin O’Neill will continue to hope he doesn’t get drawn into that relegation battle.