After giving the R’s an 11th minute lead Barton then saw red following a confrontation with Zak Whitbread and Bradley Johnson with the Canaries taking full advantage of their numerical advantage equalised just before half time time through Anthony Pilkington. Despite being a man down the home side more than held their own after the break but couldn’t hold on as Steve Morison secured victory for Paul Lambert’s side with seven minutes to go. It was a cruel blow to Neil Warnock who had hoped to guide Ranger’s away from the relegation zone after a poor run of eight games without a win saw them plummet to fourth bottom in the Premier League.
They got themselves off to the best possible start when Barton fired low past John Ruddy after some slick link up play between Clint Hill and Alejandro Faurlin on the left. That seemed to settle the home side who looked nervous in the opening stages and they controlled the game up until Barton saw red on 35 minutes after tangling with Whitbread and Johnson in the centre circle with referee Neil Swarbrick indicating the Rangers skipper had used his head in a threatening manner. That offered Norwich a route back into the game that the grabbed with both hands as Pilkington striking a precise left footed effort past Paddy Kenny to equalise just seven minutes after Barton’s dismissal. Despite having an extra man the visitors struggled to make their advantage count after the break with the R’s putting in a stubborn second half display.
Shaun Wright-Phillips’ introduction proved to be a shrewd one by Warnock with the diminutive winger’s pace causing Norwich numerous problems along with testing Ruddy with a low strike. New loan signing Federico Macheda was then introduced with 10 minutes to go as the home side sought a winner and the young Italian could have had a debut goal but was thwarted byRuddy who stole in to pluck a Wright-Phillips cross out of the air. The away side had failed to trouble Kenny during the second period but the keeper was picking the ball out of his net seven minutes from time after Morison beat him with a sweeping effort to ensure Norwich started 2012 off in the best possible manner.