A king-sized clanger

I think we have all got the message by now. Referee Andy D'Urso dropped a king-sized clanger with the free-kick that led to Bristol City's winner in stoppage time at Ashton Gate last week.

I think we have all got the message by now. Referee Andy D'Urso dropped a king-sized clanger with the free-kick that led to Bristol City's winner in stoppage time at Ashton Gate last week.

It was Robins defender Jamie McCombe and not Canary winger Lee Croft who was guilty of handball, and the decision should have gone the other way.

Without that error by the Billericay official, the Championship's new leaders - at least before today's games - would not have had the opportunity to snatch victory and Glenn Roeder's men would have left the West Country with a well-deserved point.

Because of the timing of the goal, as much as anything, it was easy to understand the sense of exasperation that sent City boss Roeder on to the pitch to remonstrate with the man in black.

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The incident still rankled yesterday when Roeder reflected on the Bristol City game at his weekly Press conference at Colney.

“We played fantastic last week and because one man can't get a Sunday morning refereeing decision correct, we get beaten,” he said. “And if I never see D'Urso again, I'll be the happiest man in the world.”

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So, no love lost there, then.

But, while acknowledging that the Canaries were hard done by on this occasion, there must be concern at the fact that they conceded yet another costly goal from a dead-ball situation.

It was the third time in four matches that the killer goal against City came from a set piece - a long throw against Stoke, a corner at Sheffield United, and a free-kick last Saturday.

Perhaps it has been more obvious because they have occupied a perilous position in the Championship table for much of the season, but City do seem to have been more than usually vulnerable in the air at dead-ball kicks. Corners alone have accounted for at least 10 league goals conceded by the Canaries this season.

Watford, Plymouth, Stoke and Bristol City have all exposed this Achilles heel in both fixtures against Norwich, and six of those eight games have ended in defeat.

True, City's own total of goals scored from set pieces is around double figures, but they have conceded at least 17 times from free-kicks, corners and throw-ins, one area they will certainly need to tighten up on next season, not to mention for the rest of this one.

City's dead-ball woe

Aug 18: Southampton (home, 2-1): Youssef Safri's corner reaches Kenwyne Jones, who scores.

Sept 1: Cardiff (home, 1-2): Peter Whittingham's corner is headed in by Roger Johnson.

Oct 20: Bristol City (home, 1-3): Corner is cleared as far as Scott Murray, who scores from outside the area.

Oct 27: West Bromwich Albion (away, 0-2): Jonathan Greening's corner is nodded back by Bostjan Cesar for Ishmael Miller to score.

Nov 4: Ipswich (home, 2-2): Alan Lee's weak free-kick is deflected into Billy Clarke's path and knocked back for Pablo Counago to score.

Nov 6: Watford (home, 1-3): Adam Johnson's corner is met by an Adrian Mariappa header, rebounding off the post on to goalkeeper David Marshall and over the line.

Nov 10: Plymouth (away, 0-3): Long throw by Paul Connolly is met by an overhead kick from Lee Martin, who scores.

Dec 1: Stoke (away, 1-2): First goal - a free-kick is played short to Liam Lawrence, whose cross is headed in by Leon Cort. Second goal - Lawrence's corner is knocked down by Cort for Richard Cresswell to hook the ball past Marshall.

Dec 4: Plymouth (home, 2-1): Peter Halmosi's corner is headed in by Krisztian Timar.

Dec 15: Colchester (away, 1-1): Corner eludes Mo Camara at the near post and Kevin McLeod scores.

Jan 1: Crystal Palace (away, 1-1): Ben Watson's free-kick is headed in from a distance by Clinton Morrison.

Jan 5: Bury (home, 1-1): Brian Barry-Murphy's free-kick is headed in at far post by Andy Bishop.

Mar 1: Watford (away, 1-1): Jobi McAnuff's corner headed in by unmarked Danny Shittu.

Mar 11: Stoke (home, 0-1): Rory Delap long throw reaches Mamady Sidibe, who scores with backheader.

Mar 15: Sheffield United (away, 0-2): David Carney corner met with free header by Matthew Kilgallon, who scores.

Mar 29: Bristol City (away, 1-2): Jamie McAllister free-kick, helped on by Michael McIndoe for Steve Brooker to head winner.

Whatever the qualifications for election to Norwich City's Greatest Ever eleven, it seems that hiding your light under a bushel is not considered to be a vote winner.

In the early days of canvassing, three of the most affable and popular ex-Canaries you could wish to meet have not shirked from publicly backing their own candidacy for a place in the team to be announced at Carrow Road on May 18.

Former manager Dave Stringer, possibly the least likely of all the nominees to blow his own trumpet, set the ball rolling by choosing his team and announcing: “I have to pick myself and Duncan Forbes.”

Goalkeeper and appearance record-holder Kevin Keelan, returning from the USA for the event, was not bashful, either.

“Well, of course, I am going to pick myself,” he said on naming his eleven.

And one of his successors in goal, Bryan Gunn, selected his line-up and said: “Obviously I have to pick myself.”

Darren Huckerby, one of only two members of the current squad listed in the 44 nominees, stopped short of endorsing his own selection, merely admitting, when asked, that he would be highly honoured if he was included.

“To be honest, to be nominated is great,” he said. “If I was voted in the greatest ever eleven, it would probably be the biggest honour of my career - without a shadow of a doubt.”

My guess is that at least two of the aforementioned players will make it into the final eleven. I wouldn't be so tactless at this stage as to say which two, but one of them is a goalkeeper.

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