Melissa Rudd: This wasn’t a great result for City - but it felt very special indeed!
PUBLISHED: 21:11 18 February 2018 | UPDATED: 05:33 19 February 2018
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For five short minutes it seemed like the unthinkable was going to happen.
All sorts go through your mind while the scoreboard clock ticks over 90 minutes at 0-1.
This run had to end sometime. This hold over Ipswich Town had to broken. Maybe it is best it happens now in a season where there is little to play for. Get it out of the way.
Trying (and failing) to convince yourself that a derby defeat after nine years shouldn’t feel too bad given almost a decade of dominance Norwich have enjoyed over their fierce rivals.
That was all before Timm Klose rose to nod in an equaliser that sent Carrow Road into raptures.
City fans are right to feel aggrieved at what they have had to watch at times this season. Norwich have suffered twice as many defeats and draws at home as they have managed wins. But in a derby game that their team had controlled for the last 44 minutes, the sight of some fans giving up hope and heading for the exit stairs in the aftermath of what seemed like it would be an Ipswich winner was more than disappointing.
Given that Klose’s header was City’s 11th goal in the last 15 minutes of league games this season it was also a little naive. If Norwich could magic up something in added time, this was one nobody would want to miss even if it meant waiting a bit longer to get home for a Sunday roast dinner.
Fortunately, the players on the pitch kept the faith. None more so than a determined Grant Hanley, who reacted to a ball sailing over his head by sprinting to keep it in play while the Ipswich players around him gave up the chase. His inch-perfect cross found a rising Klose, who managed to do what James Maddison and Nelson Oliveira had failed to and find a way past Bartosz Białkowski.
For all of the criticism aimed at Norwich this season, one thing that can’t be questioned is their spirit. The celebrations proved just how much it meant for the players to get a result, even though in the grand scheme of things winning a point and not three probably all but ended hopes of a run to the play-offs.
In truth, this was another typical Old Farm derby game. Nervy and hardly enthralling for a neutral television audience, with only a handful of clear-cut chances fashioned by either side. While only goal difference separated the two teams in the table, there was nothing remotely similar about their style of play.
Norwich were unable to hurt Town with the kind of slow build-up play the Carrow Road faithful has been used to witnessing this campaign. Failing to have a shot on target in the first half while Angus Gunn had been forced to make some good saves emphasised just how on top Ipswich had been.
City’s first and second half performances demonstrated just how reliant they are on Maddison. Marshalled well in the opening 45 minutes, he was barely allowed any time on the ball. After the interval he was able to find more space, he grew into the game and as a result so did his team. He drew fouls on the edge of the area and twice forced great stops from Białkowski as chants of ‘He’s just too good for you’ rang around the ground. Unfortunately, the 21-year-old is also too good for a mid-table Championship side and that’s exactly what Norwich are.
Daniel Farke has said we must enjoy the midfielder while we can, but given the lack of support Maddison receives the prospect of lining up without him next season is a big concern. As Oliveira’s goal drought continues, Josh Murphy barely affected the game and the head coach clearly didn’t fancy his substitutes to make an impact as he waited until the 84th minute to make a change.
That was especially surprising given Norwich go to league leaders Wolves on Wednesday evening.
On paper, this was an underwhelming result against a mediocre Championship outfit. There is no doubt though that inflicting more misery on our East Anglian rivals when a first win since 2009 was seconds from their grasp felt like so much more.