Six things we learned from Norwich City's costly home draw with bitter rivals Ipswich Town
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After watching Norwich City held to a frustrating draw by bitter rivals Ipswich, DAVID FREEZER assesses the latest edition of the East Anglian Derby.
Derby remains a special occasion
Bartosz Bialkowski may have thwarted the Canaries and put a further dent in their play-off hopes but derby day did not disappoint as a spectacle.
The atmosphere inside Carrow Road was bouncing 10 minutes before kick-off, regardless of the fact it was still 11.50 in the morning.
Highlights of City’s memorable play-off success over the Blues of two years ago got things bubbling and there was a deafening roar as the players took to the battlefield. The rendition of ‘On The Ball City’ which followed was the loudest heard since that glorious day at Wembley in May 2015.
The minute’s applause in the 15th minute - to commemorate Town’s 15 years in the second tier – was an inspired idea. Chucking a green smoke-bomb on the pitch after Mitchell Dijks’ disallowed goal was not.
Regardless of the result, the fixture remains feisty, important and an integral part of supporting either club.
Frustration is still bubbling away
Norwich deserved to win this game, absolutely no doubt about it. Unfortunately a draw just wasn’t acceptable at this stage of the season though.
As the final whistle was blown on a 1-1 home draw there was a smattering of boos, largely drowned out by applause, but a clear feeling of frustration.
Missing another chance to close on the top six as the season’s finishing straight moves ever closer meant the appetite for another good moan was there. Yet it was a game that City clearly should have won.
So instead of directing that annoyance towards manager and players, it was a case of sticking it on the back-burner, with all the season’s other smouldering frustrations.
Perhaps pop superstar Ed Sheeran – a special guest at the game – could sum up those emotions in a song, because Canaries fans are certainly struggling to put this campaign into context.
Dynamite Dijks is certainly entertaining
Loan left-back Mitchell Dijks was in the thick of the action on his first derby day as a Norwich player.
The giant Ajax ace had a goal disallowed, almost conceded a penalty, played his part in Town’s goal and went on some exhilarating runs forward.
His day should have started disastrously after hauling David McGoldrick to the ground at a corner in the ninth minute – a clear penalty. Before that he had also charged forward and delivered a low cross, the first of several which got the crowd on their feet.
His elbowed goal was correctly ruled out after the break and he lazily closed down Jordan Spence before turning his back on the cross which Jonas Knusden scored from. However, he also won plenty of headers and tackles, and left Spence for dust throughout the match.
If City can’t salvage promotion, this could well prove to be Dijks’ only derby day as a Norwich player.
Canaries are missing magic of Oliveira
Having been on a scouting mission to Portman Road the previous weekend and seen Ipswich hold Leeds to a 1-1 draw, their performance was far from surprising.
Playing five at the back meant Cameron Jerome was always in for a tough day and too many aerial balls in his direction allowed Christophe Berra to win their individual battle.
Had Nelson Oliveira not been injured then this could well have been a match when two up front would have paid off for City.
Thankfully there was positive news on the Portuguese striker’s progress after the match, with Alex Neil suggesting the nine-goal striker could return from his foot injury in two weeks.
Jerome will always work hard but was often crowded out and the only other option at present is Kyle Lafferty, who has understandably looked well short of match sharpness whenever he has featured recently.
Magic moment for Jacob to treasure
It may have been a disappointing day for the Canaries overall but Jacob Murphy took away a special memory from the game. His drilled, low finish which equalised and launched the home support into a mixture of elation and relief felt like a decisive moment in his career.
On Friday he and brother Josh were celebrating their 22nd birthdays. This goal reminded City fans that the Murphy twins are no longer just promising youngsters.
The strike was hugely important for Alex Neil, the rest of City’s season and Jacob’s career – particularly after he failed to track Jonas Knusden for Town’s goal.
Scoring a ninth goal of the campaign, before the end of February, is a remarkable achievement for a winger in his first full season in the Championship.
‘He’s one of our own’ sang the Carrow Road faithful following the goal, as a derby goal saw Jacob continue to flourish as a notable academy product.
No room for error remaining
The damage was done during that horrible run of eight defeats in 10 games but more dropped points means promotion hopes are fading fast.
Neil’s team have only lost one of their last eight league games but drawing with Newcastle and Ipswich has seen four points dropped at home.
Six points adrift of sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday with 12 games to play is far from an unassailable position, particularly with a trip to Hillsborough on Saturday. However, lose and fall nine points behind the Owls and an excruciating meander into mediocrity begins.
To be 18 points adrift of the top two at this stage is simply not good enough for the ability in this City squad.
If they can finally find the spark to ignite a promotion charge in Sheffield, it’s game on. Fall to a 10th away defeat and some very tough questions must be asked at Carrow Road before the summer break begins.
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