Airdrie United 2, Norwich City 3
Chris Lakey SLIDESHOW: The Canaries wrapped up their tour of Scotland with a comfortable victory against Scottish Second Division side Airdrie United at Excelsior Stadium. Wes Hoolahan, Goran Maric and Jens Berthel Askou scored the goals in a dominant performance which means City have a 100pc record from their three-game trip north of the border.
The Canaries wrapped up their tour of Scotland with a comfortable victory against Scottish Second Division side Airdrie United at Excelsior Stadium.
Wes Hoolahan, Goran Maric and Jens Berthel Askou scored the goals in a dominant performance which means City have a 100pc record from their three-game trip north of the border.
City boss Bryan Gunn employed Hoolahan as the playmaker just behind the front two, and it worked to a tee, the little Irishman running the show - although he disappeared down the tunnel with around 15 minutes to go, presumably because of a knock.
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Gunn will be happy with what he saw in Scotland - although he will be only too aware that it's August 8 and beyond that really counts.
Airdrie's best spell perhaps came in the opening minutes as they passed the ball around, but they were never a match for City.
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Adam Drury was stopped in his tracks as he tried to make headway down the left flank before Hoolahan's trickery earned City a second corner in succession on the other side, although Declan Rudd got an early taste of the action, diving down well to cut out a low cross by Frankie Lagan on six minutes.
Hoolahan tried to chip keeper Lee Hollis but didn't have the strength to get much lift on the effort.
The tempo was very much in keeping with traditional pre-season friendlies - although perhaps a bit more comfortable than City's two previous games in Scotland, against Raith and St Johnstone.
Askou saw a header from Matt Gill's corner cleared off the line by Darren Smith on 11 minutes as City pressed before Hoolahan had the easiest of headers in the 13th minute, in the right place at the right time as Matty Pattison's shot bounced up off the ground in the six-yard box.
It's the first goal scored by a City player on the tour, after triallists Paul McVeigh and Goran Maric scored the winners against Raith and St Johnstone respectively.
Hoolahan was an ever-present danger in that little hole behind the front two - difficult to get hold of - and on 18 minutes tormented Airdrie with a run half the length of the pitch deep into the opposition area. He switched the ball square to Cureton, who saw his effort block - and the keeper was fortunate to grab the rebound.
City's hard work was undone in the 23rd minute when Rudd went up for a cross, failed to get good hands on it and hauled down one of the Airdrie triallists - and Scott McClaughlin sent him the wrong way from the penalty spot.
It was more than Airdrie deserved, with City the better team - but a lesson for Rudd at the same time.
Paul McVeigh made an early appearance, in the 29th minute, replacing Matty Pattison, who went straight down the tunnel with a City physio.
The concerns were forgotten on 33 minutes, and again it was Hoolahan who was at the heart of it, with a nutmeg in midfield before finding skipper Matt Gill on the right. Gill curling a cross right on to Maric's head - and the unmarked Serb made the finish from six yards look easy to put City 2-1 up.
Maric went off in the 37th minute, looking down at his left leg. It didn't appear to be serious - a sign perhaps that City don't want to take any risks on a player who must surely be within touching distance of a contract for the new season.
City went 3-1 ahead in the 41st minute, McVeigh's free-kick finding another triallist, Jens Berthel Askou, whose header from six yards left Lee Hollis with no chance.
t Half-time: Airdrie United 1, Norwich City 3
Gunn made three changes at the break, David Stephens on for Spillane, with Dario Dumic moving to right back, Simon Lappin - playing in his home town - on for Drury and Jed Steer replacing Rudd in goal.
Hoolahan was soon into the action, forcing Hollis to save with his feet from the edge of the area before Gill got his radar all wrong and turned and hit a shot well wide.
Jamie Cureton had his first real sight of goal on 56 minutes, curling a shot just wide after more good work by Hoolahan.
McClaughlin blazed one a yard over just before the hour mark and Darren Smith forced Steer into a low save in front of him, but Airdrie were struggling to find a way through the City defence.
Airdrie were clearly becoming frustrated at Hoolahan's dominance and trickery, and weren't subtle in their attempts to stop him.
Gunn resisted the temptation to take his playmaker out of the fray when he introduced Tom Adeyemi and Michael Nelson for Tudur Jones and Askou respectively on 66 minutes.
Bridges finally made it on to the pitch on 70 minutes when he replaced Gill - who passed the captain's armband to Nelson.
Airdrie pulled one back on 76 minutes when one of their triallists put a diving header past Steer, but of more concern was the sight of Hoolahan walking down the tunnel on 76 minutes.
The match ended in torrential rain - hardly reflective of a decent week's work for the Canaries.
t Result: Airdrie United 2, Norwich City 3
t Airdrie United: Hollis, Smith (Bain, 70), Lovering, McDonald, Donnelly, Nixon, Lagana (Keast, 70), McLaughlin (McCabe, 80), Triallist (Robertson, 80), Baird, Triallist (Watt, 56). Subs: Byrne.
t Norwich City: Rudd, Spillane (Stephens, 45, Dumic, Askou (Nelson 66), Drury (Lappin, 45), Gill (Bridges 70), Tudur Jones (Adeyemi 66), Pattison (McVeigh 29), Hoolahan, Cureton, Maric (Martin 37).
t Referee: Eddie Smith