Cureton’s injury-time strike sinks Swedes
David Cuffley Ahlafors IF 1, Norwich City 2: Substitute Jamie Cureton scored an injury-time winner for City in their opening tour game in Sweden. Triallist Chris Makiese scored in the first half before Tobias Emback equalised for Ahlafors IF. The Canaries missed a hatful of chances and lost defender Jason Shackell with injury in the second half.
Ahlafors IF 1, Norwich City 2
It was a case of old, new, borrowed and black and blue as Norwich City kicked off their tour of Sweden with victory over Ahlafors IF.
Old - in the sense of familiar rather than ageing - was last season's top scorer, Jamie Cureton, who rounded off a 20-minute appearance as substitute by heading the Canaries' stoppage-time winner on a wet afternoon.
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New was Northern Ireland midfielder Sammy Clingan, the one summer signing on show in front of about 150 travelling City fans, who coped well with having to switch to the centre of defence for most of the second half because of injury to Jason Shackell.
Borrowed was French striker Chris Makiese, on trial from Lille, who gave City the lead in the first half with a cool finish.
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Black and blue were Shackell and fellow centre-half Gary Doherty, both of whom hobbled off with ankle injuries after being on the receiving end of robust challenges in a game that was never dirty, but still produced one red card and five yellows.
The Canaries should not have had to wait for Cureton's late goal to see off the Swedish fourth division side, for they dominated possession, but lacked the killer touch and were foiled more than once by some alert goalkeeping.
In fact, it was City who almost fell behind in the 12th minute when Peter Antonsson's header, saved by David Marshall, prompted a goalmouth scramble, but a swift counter-attack set up 20-year-old Makiese, who produced a cool finish, beating 'keeper Stefan Johansson with a left-foot lob.
Within a minute, however, Ahlafors were level when City failed to deal with a free-kick swung in from the halfway line and Tobias Emback fired home.
Lee Croft and Jon Otsemobor were both foiled by Johansson as they tried to restore City's lead, while Chris Martin fired wide from Matty Pattison's pass.
Shackell required lengthy treatment on his ankle after a late challenge by Rikard Nylander, which earned the full-back one of four first-half bookings. Five minutes after the break, Shackell could clearly not continue, Clingan moving alongside Doherty in defence and Darel Russell replacing him in midfield.
Heavy showers gave way to persistent heavy rain and the occasional flash of lightning, and there was a red card for Nylander after another poor tackle, though referee Robert Andersson, in the spirit of a friendly, allowed him to be substituted.
City should have had a penalty when Makiese was felled by Markus Hansson after some great trickery, while Luke Chadwick twice went close to putting City ahead, but it was left to Cureton to secure victory in time added on with a splendid header from a cross by substitute Korey Smith.
Manager Glenn Roeder was suitably impressed with his strikers - and keen to see how Makiese will shape up tomorrow night in the second tour friendly against Falkenbergs FF.
“He certainly scored a good goal. He took that with great aplomb. He sized the situation up quickly and just lifted it over the 'keeper and he made it look easy when it was difficult,” said Roeder.
“It was terrific skill when he got brought down in the second half, too. I'm not critical of referees but in our opinion and in everyone else's opinion, it was a penalty - no doubt about that.
“And he did some other things that I liked. He's with us again on Tuesday. He hasn't had much training because training in France starts later than ours, so he's not fit at all. He did OK but I wouldn't want anyone making too much fuss of him.”
Cureton, too, earned praise from Roeder after shrugging off a knock to deliver the winning goal.
“Jamie Cureton was a pleasant surprise. I didn't think we'd get any time out of him today at all,” said Roeder. “I was looking at 20 minutes on Tuesday but the last couple of days his injury has improved a lot and we decided that 20 minutes wouldn't put him under too much stress and it was good for him to score.”
t Ahlafors IF: Johansson, Nylander, Markus Hansson, Forsman, Stenstrom, Mattias Skanberg, Kihlgren, Gunarsson, Emback, Antonsson, Svensson. Subs: Andreas Skanberg, Tobias Hansson, Andersson, Henriksson, Elving, Lundsten, Berntsson.
t Norwich City (4-4-2): Marshall (Nelson, 45 min); Otsemobor, Doherty (Lathrope, 90 min), Shackell (Russell, 50 min), Eagle (Chadwick, 60 min); Croft (Smith, 86 min), Fotheringham, Clingan, Pattison; Martin (Cureton, 69 min), Makiese.
t Referee: Robert Andersson.
t Goals: Ahlafors: Emback (13 min). City: Makiese (12 min), Cureton (90 min).
t Bookings: Ahlafors: Nylander, Kihlgren, Gunarsson. City: Pattison, Doherty.
t Red card: Ahlafors: Nylander.
t Shots on target: Ahlafors 3, City 7
t Shots off target: Ahlafors 4, City 9
t Corners: Ahlafors 3, City 8
t Fouls committed: Ahlafors 12, City 12
t Offside: Ahlafors 2, City 4