New faces lift Norwich after Gareth Bale rescues point for Spurs
Norwich City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1: Kei Kamara isn't in Kansas any more; he may have been “one of the best players in Major League Soccer”, as Norwich City manager Chris Hughton claims, but to pin high hopes on a 28-year-old Sierra Leone striker adapting to the Premier League on loan from the Mid-West must represent something of a gamble.
Hughton, however, may be forgiven for taking a punt after a miserable January in which - until this week - just one of the 46 supposed "targets" he has been linked with actually arrived – Lee Camp, who will probably be third choice goalkeeper – and a poor run grew to six league games without a victory plus elimination from the FA Cup by non-League Luton Town.
This battling draw with Tottenham, in which Norwich were the better side until Gareth Bale's wonderful solo goal earned Spurs their point 10 minutes from time, put a brighter hue on things and if the arrival of Luciano Becchio from Leeds in a swap with Steve Morison is confirmed today, Norfolk will look a sunnier place still.
"I hope to complete [that deal]; the clubs are in discussion," Hughton said. "Kamara is almost here – it's just a matter of a visa. He's scored a lot of goals, a lot of assists, in the MLS, and even if it's a lower standard league, he's not an average player there. I'm excited at the prospect of seeing him [in action for us]."
The Tottenham manager, Andre Villas-Boas, thinks it "highly unlikely" that the last day of the transfer window will see any moves in or out of White Hart Lane today. One player already arrived, the Germany midfielder Lewis Holtby, made his bow in English football for the last 20 minutes and pleased Villas-Boas, who said: "He did extremely well. He can add even more quality to our squad. It was extremely good to see him out there."
The one moment of real quality on show came from Bale. His goal – described as "beautiful" by Villas-Boas, by Hughton as "a top-class goal from a top-class player" – was worth the point which both managers agreed was fair.
Villas-Boas was less impressed by the challenge by Alex Tettey which Bale rode on his way towards scoring. The Spurs manager said it was "worth a yellow or a red card" and that he had told the referee, Neil Swarbrick, so. Hughton's riposte to that seemed more plausible. "The way Bale went past him there didn't seem too much wrong with him," he said.
Norwich had led from the 32nd minute when Grant Holt missed a high centre from Robert Snodgrass but his mere presence at the far post was enough to discomfort Hugo Lloris to the extent that Anthony Pilkington was easily able to set up the chance on a plate for Wes Hoolahan.
Hughton was inevitably disappointed that his side proved unable ultimately to keep that lead, but he admitted: "The performance was a lot better than recently." Not half.
* Uefa have fined Spurs £8,600 for crowd disturbances during their Europa League match away to Lazio, who were fined £120,000 and threatened with playing a European home match in an empty stadium after their fans' racist behaviour.
Man of the match Bassong.
Match rating 6/10.
Referee N Swarbrick (Lancashire).