All we want for Christmas. . . is a goal
DAVID CUFFLEY The Canaries must end an eight-year wait for a goal at Wolves if they are to stand any chance of giving their travelling fans an early Christmas present.
The Canaries must end an eight-year wait for a goal at Wolves if they are to stand any chance of giving their travelling fans an early Christmas present.
City go to Molineux in the Coca-Cola Championship on Saturday having failed to score on their last six visits to the ground - in fact, they have yet to score there this century.
The last Norwich player to do so was Iwan Roberts, who bagged the second goal against his former club in a 2-2 draw in December 1998, after Neil Adams had struck first from the penalty spot.
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Current boss Peter Grant was alongside them in the City starting line-up for the Nationwide League Division One match as two Robbie Keane goals in the last six minutes salvaged a draw for Wolves.
But former Carrow Road favourite Roberts reckons fellow Welsh striker Robert Earnshaw and Darren Huckerby will enjoy the wide open spaces of Molineux and offer City their best hope of picking up their first points in December after three successive defeats.
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Roberts said: “Both sides are going through a transitional period with Mick McCarthy in charge at Wolves.
"I saw them at Cardiff where they lost 4-0 and had Gary Breen sent off, but they're quite a youthful team.
"Granty has not had a lot of time yet at Norwich. They won their first two games under him but have hit a sticky patch so it's going to be a tough game.
"But the pitch will suit the way Norwich like to play, with a counter-attacking game, and there should be plenty of space for Earnie and Hucks to exploit.”
Roberts, 38, has very clear memories of the game eight years ago - best remembered for Kevin Muscat's controversial tackle on City's Craig Bellamy, which left him sidelined with a knee injury for five matches.
He said: “It's a game we should have won. We were 2-0 up with less than 10 minutes to go. Wolves brought on Neil Emblen and he went up front and caused us all sorts of problems, then Robbie Keane scored twice.
“We sat in the dressing room afterwards feeling like we had lost the game.
“When we scored the second we were cruising. It was a great cross by Chris Llewellyn and I scored with a header from about six yards.
“Kevin Muscat got in a very naughty challenge on Craig Bellamy which disgusted Bruce Rioch and he came on the pitch and had to be restrained from going after him.”
Rioch's Canaries finished ninth that season and Wolves seventh, both missing out on the play-off places.
Adams, 41, who scored from the spot after Roberts had been fouled, has more than one reason to remember the game.
“I remember scoring with a penalty - I scored quite a few of those for Norwich against Wolves - and it was my last goal for Norwich because I broke my foot not long afterwards and left the club in the summer.
“But people will remember it most for Craig Bellamy getting injured. I was probably the closest player to the incident and saw what Muscat did to him and I can remember him sitting next to me on the team bus with a hole in his knee.”
After 570 minutes without a City goal at Molineux, Adams admitted: “It's always a difficult place to go and score but it needs to change this weekend.”
In all, City's last nine trips to Wolves have yielded just two draws and seven defeats. Their last victory was a 2-0 success in September 1995, during Martin O'Neill's brief reign as manager. Andy Johnson and Ashley Ward scored the goals.
Last 10 visits:
1995-96: Wolves 0, Norwich 2 (Div One)
1996-97: Wolves 3, Norwich 2 (Div One)
1997-98: Wolves 5, Norwich 0 (Div One)
1998-99: Wolves 2, Norwich 2 (Div One)
1999-2000: Wolves 1, Norwich 0 (Div One)
2000-01: Wolves 4, Norwich 0 (Div One)
2001-02: Wolves 0, Norwich 0 (Div One)
2001-02: Wolves 1, Norwich 0 (play-off semi-final)
2002-03: Wolves 1, Norwich 0 (Div One)
2005-06: Wolves 2, Norwich 0 (Championship)