AGOVV Apeldoorn 0, Norwich City 2
DAVID CUFFLEY AGOVV Apeldoorn 0, Norwich City 2: Substitutes Chris Brown and Jamie Cureton turned up the heat in the battle for places in the Norwich City attack with the goals that sank their first Dutch tour opponents.
AGOVV Apeldoorn 0, Norwich City 2
Substitutes Chris Brown and Jamie Cureton turned up the heat in the battle for places in the Norwich City attack with the goals that sank their first Dutch tour opponents.
It was a case of heads, we win as Brown broke the deadlock after 72 minutes in a one-sided contest against AGOVV Apeldoorn in Harderwijk, then Cureton nodded the second eight minutes later.
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Both players were introduced at half-time on Saturday after manager Peter Grant paired Czech striker David Strihavka with 18-year-old Chris Martin in the first period.
Brown scored one of City's 12 goals at Lowestoft last Tuesday, while Cureton scored twice in the 4-0 win at King's Lynn 24 hours later.
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The former Sunderland man was delighted to add to his tally on a warm afternoon at the Sportpark De Strokel.
He said: “It seemed to get hotter as soon as four o'clock came. They were obviously fit and strong, so it was always going to be a good workout.
“Thankfully I got myself a goal and Curo got one as well, so it was good to win and good to keep a clean sheet.”
To judge from the noisier element of a City following of more than 150 fans in Holland, 24-year-old Strihavka has quickly acquired something of a fan club, but in three outings he has yet to give them a goal to celebrate.
He should have got off the mark after 24 minutes when he moved on to Jon Otsemobor's through-ball and rounded goalkeeper Marcus Stolzenberg, but failed to finish from a tight angle.
Stolzenberg kept the Canaries out three times in the final seven minutes of the half, first saving a header from Martin, then blocking Jimmy Smith's shot with his legs when the new midfielder connected with Martin's cross, and finally foiling Martin in a one-on-one situation.
City had been operating with three central defenders and two wing-backs in a 3-5-2 formation in the opening period, but reverted to more of a 3-4-3 shape after making three changes at the interval. But it was only in the final quarter of the match that they really made their possession count.
Cureton had appeals for a penalty turned down when a defender appeared to handle, then had a close-range shot blocked by Mirano Carrilho after second-half 'keeper Maikel Visser fumbled a cross from Simon Lappin.
But Visser was beaten after 72 minutes when Lappin swung in another centre and Brown powered in a header via the crossbar.
With 'keeper David Marshall a spectator, a rare Apeldoorn raid saw Jason Shackell deny Steven van Es with a fine block tackle, but City wrapped up victory 10 minutes from time.
Andy Hughes' free-kick from the right was met with a powerful header by Gary Doherty which rebounded off the bar and Cureton was first to react, nodding in the rebound.
Manager Peter Grant praised his players for adapting to a new formation.
He said: “I was very pleased because we tried something different that we'd worked on just this morning, really.
“We've tried different systems and I'm very pleased at the way they've taken it on board. We lost too many goals last year. It's something I'm still looking at. I'm very pleased with the fact we've got clean sheets.
“I thought we could have been three or four up at half-time, to be perfectly honest. Marshall's had probably as quiet a day as he's going to have.
“I thought there was a lot of good football. We just weren't clinical enough with our final pass at times.”
Grant had special praise for the evergreen Cureton and for Smith, his loan signing from Chelsea, thrust into the side just 48 hours after meeting his new team-mates.
He said: “Jamie was the only one who was on the move when the ball came back off the bar, that's typical Jamie Cureton. He's always had that throughout his career. He lives on that.
“We have a predator. We lost Robert Earnshaw, who was similar, but in Jamie's career he's done all these things. He's that alert type. He's experienced and he knows he's got to be on the move all the time.”
He rated Smith's first appearance “excellent”, saying: “Jimmy made some terrific runs. He got forward very well and was very unlucky not to score. For a young man he has great awareness of where the ball's going to be. I thought he showed today he can handle this, no problem whatever.”
t AGOVV Apeldoorn - Stolzenburg (Visser, 45 min), N'Toko (Carrilho, 57 min), Axwijk, Mulder, Cathalina (Van Geerenstein, 45 min), Risamasu, Kabeya, Wille (Khaliffe, 71 min), Mahmudor (Van Es, 71 min), Ter Heide, N'Gombo (Martens, 57 min). Subs (not used) De Smalen, Bokila, Van Norel.
t Norwich City - First half (3-5-2): Marshall; Doherty, Dublin, Shackell; Otsemobor, Smith, Fotheringham, Lappin, Drury; Martin, Strihavka.
Second half (3-4-3): Marshall; Doherty, Dublin (Spillane, 77 min), Shackell; Hughes, Fotheringham, Lappin (Eagle, 83 min), Drury (Chadwick, 53 min); Cureton, Brown, Martin (Croft, 71 min). Subs (not used) Gilks, Safri.