St Johnstone 0, Norwich City 1
PUBLISHED: 12:40 16 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:21 10 September 2010
Norwich City maintained their winning sequence in Scotland with a 1-0 win over St Johnstone – and left Bryan Gunn and his management team with more questions than answers. That usually means problems when associated with the Canaries, but this time the City boss will be delighted to have a glut of talent waiting to join his League One ranks next season.
Norwich City maintained their winning sequence in Scotland with a 1-0 win over St Johnstone - and left Bryan Gunn and his management team with more questions than answers.
That usually means problems when associated with the Canaries, but this time the City boss will be delighted to have a glut of talent waiting to join his League One ranks next season.
Goran Maric, Paul McVeigh, Jens Berthel Askou and Michael Bridges - and to a lesser extent Chris Craig - have all appeared before judge and jury as triallists, but may have to wait until early next week before Gunn and his backroom staff can consider their verdicts.
In a perfect world they'd keep them all, but no one is more acutely aware than Gunn that these are not perfect times for Norwich City, and so the financial elements that are attached to each player will count heavily in the final reckoning.
Maric came on after just 17 minutes after Cody McDonald went off, a knock on the knee playing him up again although Gunn says it was merely a precautionary move. Within eight minutes Maric had put City ahead, having given Wes Hoolahan sight of his run into the area, allowing the little midfielder to execute a perfect chip over a defender. All that was left was to draw the keeper and slip the ball home.
At 6ft 1in the Serb has the physical presence, and he's not shy of an argument. He also gets into good positions and has a good touch - he's not a target man, although he looks decent in the air, but he would cause defenders problems.
McVeigh didn't show as much, but there were glimpses here and there of the old magic while Bridges was shifted to the right of a trio of strikers in a 4-3-3 formation when McDonald went off, but still left Gunn with a lot to think about.
Askou was dominant in the air and willing to pass out of defence - with Michael Nelson, Gary Doherty and youngsters Dario Dumic and David Stephens already challenging for the job, he may have arrived too late.
None look out of place, but friendly matches are never easy things to gauge, which is why Gunn will need to think long and hard before jumping to a decision.
Otherwise, the City manager doesn't seem to have too may problems with what he's got. This was another step up, against a side which will compete in the Scottish Premier League next season after promotion.
St Johnstone had their moments, but young keeper Declan Rudd made three quality saves before half-time to deny them and they were lucky that Bridges, Chris Martin and Maric weren't on target with efforts which would have more accurately reflected the game.
Gunn chose to mix and match again, Jon Otsemobor restored to right back, with Simon Lappin at left back in place of Adam Drury. Tom Adeyemi was the central point of a three-man midfield, McVeigh on the right, Hoolahan picking holes here, there and everywhere on the left.
Hopefully he won't appear in the striker's role again as he did at Dartford on Saturday.
Bridges, Martin and McDonald completed the front line until the enforced change. By then Bridges had curled one wide, Rudd had got his fingertips to a low effort and Martin had headed straight at the keeper.
McDonald walked rather than limped off and after Rudd had to make two more good stops, his replacement struck. It started with neat work at the back, Askou nipping a short pass to Adeyemi who played it low, straight down the middle of the pitch to Hoolahan. Maric began his run, Hoolahan saw it, found the Serb and that was that.
Bridges shot wide just before half-time and Martin had a stinging shot parried away by the keeper as City turned the screw.
The Scots had their moments soon after the break, but City could have been further ahead on 58 minutes when Dario Dumic, on for Otsemobor, sent in a superb curling cross from the right after a neat flick by Bridges. Martin was charging in at the far post but his shot crashed against the keeper's legs. Bridges was again the initial supplier, this time to McVeigh, who found Maric in the area, the striker's effort getting the slightest of touches off the keeper before trickling narrowly wide.
Maric had the ball in the net near the end but referee Kevin Graham said Martin's cross for the header was out of play.
City now head to Airdrie on Saturday, when Gunn will have a last look at the triallists before making his decisions.
t Norwich City: Rudd, Otsemobor (Dumic 50), Doherty, Askou, Lappin, McVeigh, Adeyemi, Hoolahan, Martin, Bridges, McDonald (Maric 17).
Subs not used: Steer, Stephens, Tudur Jones, Gill.
t Referee: Kevin Graham