Hull City 1 Norwich City 1: Pearson left frustrated but Hull maintain push for the play-offs

Super-sub Nick Barmby snatched Hull City a point as Norwich extended their unbeaten run to eight games and the Tigers maintained their play-off push.

The Canaries took the lead through Zak Whitbread’s header in the 27th minute, but Barmby arrived at the near-post to level from close range midway through the second half.

The visitors are now just one point clear in second, while Hull still have slim hopes of snatching a place in the top six.

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Hull manager Nigel Pearson was left frustrated by the draw.

Pearson said: “It was a bit frustrating because we had some good chances. Until the game opened up in the final 15 minutes, apart from the goal, I don’t think they had a chance.

“The important thing is that we haven’t lost ground and in fact might be a little bit closer, and that shows you what this league is all about.

“When we went 4-4-2 at the end of the second half they probably had their best spell of the game and they looked very dangerous. It’s no surprise they’ve scored so many goals this season, and they’re very creative and have a lot of very good players.

“I think we did a really good job of stifling them but we also tried to create chances, and both sides tried to win the game.

“There is an air of disappointment that we didn’t win it, but we had our moments and when you go behind in that fashion, it’s good to get a point.

“It was always going to be a very tight game. They’re a good side, so credit to our players for making them look pretty ordinary in the first half, although it was a disappointing goal to concede from our point of view.

“The players are really enjoying their football and the challenge and there are going to be some twists and turns. Regardless of what the perception is elsewhere, we have to keep our focus.”

Inconsistent Hull, who had won three and lost two of their previous five games before Saturday, saw a goalbound effort from Liam Rosenior blocked by Elliott Ward in the early stages.

Tigers striker Aaron Mclean, who scored the only goal against the Sky Blues a week earlier, fired a shot inches wide from 20 yards in the 21st minute, but the visitors took the lead shortly afterwards.

A free-kick from David Fox caught out goalkeeper Brad Guzan and Whitbread was left with an easy header from 12 yards.

Lansbury cracked a shot over the crossbar from another quick break, but Hull responded well.

Matt Fryatt broke into the box and unleashed a low drive which was well saved by John Ruddy, and moments later James Harper was presented with a golden chance from four yards but somehow put his shot over the crossbar.

Goalkeeper Ruddy came to the rescue again in first-half stoppage-time, tipping over a 30-yard free-kick from Andy Dawson.

Hull continued to press at the start of the second half, with Mclean heading over from Dawson’s set-piece, but the Canaries hit back with Fox heading wide from Ward’s centre.

It could have been 2-0 to the visitors in the 59th minute when a fierce shot from Wes Hoolahan was superbly tipped away by Guzan at the near-post.

Norwich felt they should have had a penalty when Russ Martin was pulled to the ground by Dawson, but appeals were waved away by referee Rob Shoebridge.

Top scorer Grant Holt volleyed over from 20 yards as it looked like Paul Lambert’s men would add a second.

But Hull snatched an equaliser in the 73rd minute when Fryatt broke down the left and sent the ball across the six-yard box for substitute Barmby to pounce.

The game was on a knife-edge as it entered the final quarter, with Anthony Gerrard heading a right-wing corner wide, and Corry Evans let fly from distance but Ruddy gathered.

Substitute Simeon Jackson came close for Norwich with a curling effort, and Tijani Belaid had the best late chance but Ruddy kept out his fierce drive.

Norwich manager Paul Lambert was pleased with a point.

Lambert said: “I’m delighted with how we played in a very open game, and we had some good breaks in the second half.

“Hull is a very hard place to come and their form has been terrific, but we gave as good as we got.

“The pitch was lively with a rugby game here on Friday night, and it wasn’t the flattest pitch.

“It’s an away game for us and to pick up a point away from home could be massive. We have to try to win our home games and pick up points away from home.

“It’s extraordinary what has happened at this football club and no one expected us to be in the position we are in.

“The players have been really brilliant.

“The way Nigel has got Hull playing shows he’s a top manager, and he did great things at Leicester before he came here. So for us to come here and get a point is excellent.

“We have four games at home and four away, and all eight games will be really tough, but with the way we’re playing and with the crowd behind us, we’re in good shape.”

Hull City: Guzan, Rosenior (Amoo 80), Hobbs, Chester, Gerrard, Dawson, Harper (Barmby 60), Evans, Koren, Fryatt, Mclean (Belaid 70). Unused substitutes: Oxley, Garcia, Cairney, Simpson. Booked: Chester.

Norwich City: Ruddy, Russell Martin, Whitbread, Ward, Tierney, Crofts, Surman (Lappin 60), Lansbury, Hoolahan, Fox (Jackson 81), Holt. Unused substitutes: Rudd, Drury, Edwards, Smith, McNamee.

Referee: Rob Shoebridge (Derbyshire).