Another good performance from Norwich City and another draw. Point gained or two dropped?
Norwich City drew 0-0 with West Ham on 15 September at Carrow Road, in a game that was certainly more exciting to watch than suggested by Alan Shearer on MOTD. I know, because I was present at the game and he was not.
I had to stand on the train journey from London to Cambridge, and the train from Cambridge to Norwich was packed, but I still enjoyed the day. For the third game in a row the Canaries played well and will be disappointed not to have come away with three points. For the third game in a row they created chances but were not able to turn their superiority into goals. For the third game in a row the opposing team’s goalkeeper played a blinder. And for the third game in a row we had to contend with the same set of match officials, the ones who do not award us penalties when they clearly should do, and the ones who penalise us for minor offences but somehow fail to spot the opposition’s transgressions.
City retained the same starting line up that played so well against Spurs; the only change being that Surman replaced Pilkington in midfield. It was unclear whether Pilks was suffering from the after effects of recently becoming a father, his traumatic trial by Batman and puncture, or a groin strain.
The opening exchanges were lively. Surman twice went close, and at the other end Ruddy saved well from Taylor and Nolan. He saved again from Cole just before half-time, and Jaaskelainen made two good saves as the Canaries rained four shots on goal in quick succession. Holt side-footed wide. City appealed for a penalty when Surman was upended by Collins, but the referee awarded only a free kick on the edge of the area. He booked Collins for the offence. So chances at both ends but no score at half-time.
City started the second half brightly, and Jackson, Snodgrass and Johnson all went close. After 64 minutes Hughton sent on Morison in place of Jackson, which provoked a chorus of booing from the crowd. Jacko had played well and it was unclear whether the boos were from West Ham fans complaining about Morison’s Millwall antecedents, City fans protesting that Holt should have been hauled off first, or the City fans saying that Jacko did not deserve to be taken off. But six minutes later Holt was replaced by new loan signing from Spurs Harry Kane.
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There was a flurry of action in the final five minutes. Jarvis shot over the bar for the Hammers, Kane shot wide, and then at the death tamely at Jaaskelainen when a pass to the rampaging Martin might have paid better dividends.
So the game finished 0-0. On the plus side City kept a first clean sheet of the season. The defence played well and so did the midfield. We created chances.
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On the negative side we seem unable to put the ball in the net. Holt appears to be but a shadow of the player he was last season. The jury is still out on whether he is not yet fully match fit, no longer hungry, or whether the way we play does not create chances for him. On the evidence of this performance Big Sam must be pleased we did not accept his bid of �6.5 million during the summer.
City seem to be lacking a creative spark. Why was Wes not given a chance? Kane is not yet the finished article and certainly not the new Teddy Sheringham that some have said. Did anyone notice that Jordan Rhodes scored a brace for his new club, making it two in his last two games, and that McKail-Smith scored twice for Brighton to make it four in his last three games?
Thought for the day. Why does Hughton whistle at his players as though they are sheepdogs? Grant used to profane them with the F word every five seconds. Lambert would shout but because of his Glaswegian accent no one could understand, so it didn’t matter. But Hughton has taken to whistling. Why?
City now have a run of games at Chelsea, and at home to Liverpool and Arsenal, before the little matter of a trip to Villa Park. Let us hope that we get our first win soon. Home to QPR and West Ham were supposed to have been the easier options, so we will just have to roll up our sleeves and do things the hard way.