Substitute Jordan Bowery was the Rotherham United hero as his late equaliser earned his side a vital point in their fight for Sky Bet Championship survival.
Despite losing former Miller Lewis Grabban to a first-half red card, the Canaries looked to be heading for victory thanks to Gary Hooper’s fantastic strike until Bowery popped up late on to give Steve Evans men a share of the spoils.
Following their hard-fought draw with Fulham last time out, the Millers fielded an unchanged starting line-up for the visit of the high-flying Canaries.
The only change to the home squad was the return of striker Jonson Clarke-Harris, who was named amongst the home substitutes following his loan recall from Doncaster as Rob Milsom missed out.
The visitors were quick out of the blocks and skipper Russell Martin threaded a ball into the run of Wes Hoolahan, who was crowded out by Kirk Broadfoot near the touchline before Daniel Lafferty produced a good tackle to prevent Grabban from advancing menacingly towards goal moments later.
Moments later, Nathan Redmond cut inside from the right flank before unleashing a rasping effort from distance which had Emi Martinez at full stretch before the Millers had their first foray of note when Sebastien Bassong was penalised for hauling down Matt Derbyshire just outside the box.
From the resultant free-kick by Pringle, Bassong redeemed himself by making a timely header but Rotherham planted the ball the back into the box paving the way for Broadfoot, to strike a fierce effort over the bar but any goal would have been chalked off by the offside flag.
Minutes later, Richie Smallwood’s clearance fell invitingly into the run of Jack Hunt, who ghosted into the visitors box, but his pullback narrowly evaded the attentions of Danny Ward before Ben Pringle floated a delicate free-kick which was met by the head of Broadfoot, who powered a header across the face of goal forcing John Ruddy into a full-length save.
The visitors were indebted to Ryan Bennett for snuffing out Derbyshire’s centre after Lee Frecklington’s pass had opened up the Canaries defence before Craig Morgan came to Rotherham’s rescue at the other end after Martin Olsson sneaked behind home lines.
Minutes later, Grabban almost came back to haunt his former club as he waltzed into the home box before dragging a shot across the face of goal before Frecklington’s daisycutter from distance was bravely blocked by Bennett.
The game took a twist minutes later when Grabban tussled with Morgan before appearing to lash out, by striking the Rotherham skipper in the ribs, and referee Mark Brown had no hesitation in brandishing the red card to the ex-Rotherham man.
The home side almost made their numerical advantage count immediately when Smallwood’s arrowed pass found Derbyshire near the flank, who played a superb first time ball around the Norwich rearguard and Ward got on the wrong side of Bennett, to stab goalwards but the ball agonisingly fizzed past the upright.
In the aftermath of the move, Ruddy became the next to incur the wrath of the referee as he was booked for dissent while Pringle escaped sanction following an incident in the build-up to Ward’s shot.
Minutes later, Kari Arnason clipped a ball across the box paving the way for Pringle to strike a volley which had Ruddy nervously scurrying across goal before Arnason was in the thick of the action moments later when he firstly challenged the Norwich ‘keeper to win a corner before he rose highest to meet Pringle’s inswinging centre in the next phase of play as his header failed to trouble the visitors goal.
With half-time approaching, Martin’s deep cross found Olsson, who struck a rasping effort from an acute angle forcing Martinez to tip the ball around his own post.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Norwich City 0
Following the restart, the Millers had the first sight of goal after Norwich failed to deal with a bullet throw from Arnason and Jonny Howson inavertedly headed clear into the path of Ward, who screwed his volley wide of the target despite having the goal at his mercy.
Moments later, Ruddy was well-stationed to snuff out Pringle’s dangerous centre before Derbyshire almost killed Lafferty’s arrowed ball with his instep to race clear but a retreating defender cleared the danger.
The home side were looking the most likely and another Arnason exocet was flicked on by Morgan into the path of Derbyshire just yards out but Martin showed great awareness to clear the danger before Ward fluffed his lines by blazing a shot well over in the home side’s next attack.
Just before the hour mark, the visitors stunned the home faithful by making the breakthrough against the run of play.
After Hunt and Pringle combined on the right flank, the Rotherham move broke down and Redmond pounced on the loose ball to drive at the backtracking Rotherham defence before threading a ball into the path of sub Gary Hooper, who controlled superbly before firing a fantastic dipping half-volley from distance which flew into the home goal giving Martinez no chance.
The goal visibly rocked the Millers and they had Broadfoot to thank for keeping them in the game after Redmond showed two defenders a clean pair of heels to speed into the box before clipping a cross which looked inch-perfect for Bassong to head home, but the Scottish international made a superb last-ditch header to clear the danger.
Minutes later, the Millers missed a gilt-edged chance to level matters when Hunt got the better of Olsson to pull the ball back into the advancing run of Frecklington, who looked a certain scorer, but Ruddy smothered his shot and although Lafferty put the ball back into the danger area, sub Adam Hammill was unable to force the ball home from close range as he was crowded out by a ruck of visiting bodies.
With the game on a knife-edge, Bradley Johnson tussled with Hunt before firing a deflected shot which saw Martinez take the safety-first approach to tip over the bar before Rotherham squandered a superb opportunity to bring themselves level with 15 minutes to go.
Martinez fired a long punt upfield which saw sub Bowery get on the wrong side of Bassong to advance into the box and despite the ball running away from him, the ex-Villa striker managed to pull the ball back across the face of goal and with Ruddy helpless, Derbyshire seemed certain to tap home but he failed to make a proper connection as it squirmed the wrong side of the upright.
Minutes later, sub Cameron Jerome became the next to see yellow as he led with his elbow in an aerial duel with Lafferty before Derbyshire attempted an overhead kick as the Canaries failed to clear but it fizzed harmlessly wide of the target.
Derbyshire was finding himself in the thick of the action and he almost made amends for his glaring miss when he latched onto Hunt’s arrowed punt with a looping header from the edge of the box and although Ruddy misjudged the flight of the ball, it clipped the top of the crossbar.
With time running out for the hosts, Norwich failed to deal with Arnason’s cross and Hunt paved the way for Frecklington to strike a dipping volley which narrowly cleared the visitors crossbar before Rotherham deservedly got themselves back on level terms with four minutes remaining.
Following a switch of play, Hammill looked to be running into a cul-de-sac but he managed to somehow clip the ball into the danger area and Bowery headed goalwards and although Ruddy seemed to get a hand to it, the ball squirmed into the bottom corner of the goal to raise the AESSEAL New York Stadium roof.
The home side were sensing a fightback was on the cards and after Hammill was bundled over by Martin, the Huddersfield loanee almost extracted retribution with the resultant free-kick when it sailed past the visitors’ defensive wall and Ruddy could only watch on helplessly, as it whistled past the post.
With five minutes of stoppage time declared, Rotherham had the final say when Arnason led a home cavalry charge and Frecklington ignored the presence of Bowery on his shoulder to advance to the edge of the box before firing a skimming drive which had Ruddy flying across goal as it flew just wide of the target.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 1 Norwich City 1
Teams:- Rotherham- Martinez, Lafferty, Arnason, Broadfoot, Frecklington, Pringle (Hammill 63), Morgan, Ward (Bowery 69), Derbyshire, Hunt, Smallwood. Unused:- Collin, Wood, Green, Wilson, Clarke-Harris.
Norwich- Ruddy, Johnson, Martin, Grabban, Howson, Hoolahan (Hooper 33), Redmond (Jerome 77), Olsson, R Bennett, Bassong, Dorrans. Unused:- Rudd, Cuellar, E Bennett, O’Neil, Odjidja-Ofoe
Referee:- M. Brown
Attendance:- 11498 (2327).