December 13 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Pre-match: The man running the buffet car on the train up north noticed my yellow shirt and was keen to talk football.
“Who’ve you got today then?” he said wincing, already feeling sorry for me.
“Bolton,” I replied, before adding, “away” and then thinking that the last piece of information wasn’t strictly necessary.
“All right; OK,” he said in a thoughtful, Scouse-kind of a way. “What do you think?”
“Tough, very tough,” I added – before muttering something about Bolton’s difficult start and how much they’d want to bounce back at home.
He nodded and for a moment we both observed a silence to the plight of loving a football team.
“Oh well!” he chirped, bringing us back. “You never know, you never know.”
I agreed that you never did.
I picked up a copy of the Daily Express – “the world’s greatest newspaper” by its own humble admission – and returned to my seat. I tried to visualise a Grant Holt hat-trick. That’s what top sports people do: they visualise things. Jack Nicklaus never played a shot without doing it. As a fan, I would do my bit.
It was harder than I thought because the kids on the train were throwing felt-tips at each other, so I turned to “the world’s greatest newspaper” to see what they had visualised.
Bolton, 3-1, with Klasnic scoring first. There was something ice cold about this assessment.
Mark Lawrenson had already predicted our demise away at the Reebok and here was the “world’s greatest newspaper” – which costs 10p – in agreement.
Depressed, I turned to the crossword. But it was too hard, so I threw “the world’s greatest newspaper” in the bin.
Post-match: Ha – in your face, national pundits and world’s greatest newspapers! This was a hard fought victory of skill, tactics and sheer determination by Paul Lambert’s warriors.
The first point is the skill. Norwich were outstanding in a first half that made Bolton look second rate. Their passing, moving and pressing left the home side looking completely without invention or penetration.
Tactically, Lambert nailed it again. Kevin Davies was probably looking forward to testing his bully-boy experience against young Ritchie De Laet. But when a muscular Russell Martin took to the pitch at centre back Davies’ threat was neutralised. Martin out-jumped, out-muscled and out-paced Davies all afternoon.
David Fox’s quality on the ball kept Norwich’s wide men well supplied and Wes Hoolahan was a terrier as captain.
The game’s controversy was Ivan Klasnic’s sending off. Marc Tierney decided to go down like he had been Ruddy’d (ask Didier Drogba what this means) when contact had been very light.
By the letter of the law Klasnic has to see red, but this only happens if the referee is made aware of it. Tierney made sure of this. Ramires did it, Jonathan Walters did it, that WBA player did it. I dislike it. I’ll bet Tierney doesn’t like it. But until we bring in video referrals what is a player to do? Welcome to the Premier League – take all the advantage you can get.
The second half was cruising to an easy three points until we gave away our customary penalty.
Bolton roared like a wounded lion. Norwich held firm. Grant Holt came on and soaked up pressure with a smile, but eventually it was John Ruddy whose positioning, reactions and concentration took the points back to Norfolk with a world class save from David Ngog. Fabio Capello, take note.
All in all a fantastic win, two new boys on the scoresheet, sort of – Anthony Pilkington’s effort came off the post, hit a Bolton player and then went over the line – and more evidence of that togetherness that will keep us in this league.
Man of the match: Wes – captain and led by example. Tireless movement, thinking and closing down.
PS: I’m an actor in a show in London and will be handing my season ticket to my dad next week until February – sob.
I’m appearing in the comedy show Office Party at The Pleasance, Islington from October 3 to January 21 (see www.officepartyshow.com for more details)
• If you would like the chance to report on a Norwich City game this season - home or away - please contact Peter Raven on email@example.com