There sure is value to be had in the transfer market. That appeared to be the story of the day as Moussa Dembélé marked his Tottenham Hotspur debut by grasping hold of a muddled display to drag his new team to the brink of victory. But for the third match in succession, Spurs squandered points late on. Robert Snodgrass, whose composure and craft was a wonderful feature of Norwich's gameplan, seized the moment to prove that there is value to be had at both ends of the transfer market. Recruited from Leeds at roughly £3m, his performance was the glossiest of all.

Norwich's comeback was gutsy considering they had conceded five at their last away outing, and very much merited considering Brad Friedel's heroics prevented even more damage for Spurs. André Villas-Boas confessed afterwards that he had "a bit of anxiety". Tottenham's difficulty mastering their nerves, particularly late on, is a habit they dearly need to kick.

"It has not been the ideal start to the season," he conceded. "It is disappointing to suffer in the dying moments of the game. We have to work on our concentration." That is not the only matter for attention. Tottenham did not possess enough fluency, enough direction, enough penetration. Evidently it will take time for this team to really take shape.

The audible discontent at the final whistle contrasted sharply with the air of sunny expectation before kick off around White Hart Lane in the aftermath of a typically thrilling cluster of late transfer coups. It soon gave way to quiet grumbling as the combination of Norwich's industry and Tottenham's conservatism set the pattern.

Villas-Boas's strategy, with Jermain Defoe leading the line up front, did not seem to obviously play into anybody's strengths. Defoe did not see much of the ball, and those who did, particularly in wide positions, were short of a target in every sense of the word. John Ruddy had only to deal with one shot from Gareth Bale in the first half.

Norwich were not exactly rocking on their heels, and broke where possible. Russell Martin directed Snodgrass's free kick on to the crossbar, and Tottenham were indebted to Friedel for clawing away Snodgrass's header and parrying a snap shot from Anthony Pilkington. The USA goalkeeper does not intend to give up his position to Hugo Lloris without a scrap. Villas-Boas maintains that the shirt remains Friedel's for the time being.

Tottenham were crying out for a moment of inspiration, and it came from their newcomer, Dembélé. In the 68th minute he single-handedly lifted his team's performance out of the mundane and into the celebrated. The home fans were elated as he deftly latched on to Defoe's pass, jinked past Jonny Howson and angled a left footed drive into the far corner.

Norwich claimed for a penalty when substitute Steve Morison tumbled in the box, but Mark Halsey was unconvinced. Chris Hughton's team continued to push up in search of an equaliser and they got their reward six minutes from time when Snodgrass lashed in. Hughton was thrilled with the Scot's contribution, explaining: "He was desperate to play in this division."

Friedel ensured it was not a more happier outcome for Norwich when he saved from Johnson in stoppage time. Hughton paid tribute to his team's efforts: "To go a goal behind here, not let our heads drop, force the equaliser and have the chance to win it speaks volumes."

Tottenham lost their nerve and Tom Huddlestone was sent off for a late challenge on Howson, though Villas-Boas is planning to appeal against the decision. Without a win, their season is still waiting for lift off.