Goals flowing for Norwich City but Daniel Farke’s defensive work is left on hold by injury issues
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Laying foundations for success is proving far from straight forward for Norwich City in pre-season but it hasn’t stopped Daniel Farke’s side from scoring 10 goals in two games.
The early sparring in friendly fixtures against lower level opposition should be routine for the quality the Canaries possess, even if the squad revamp is causing some uncertainty.
Having put five past Irish second tier side Cobh Ramblers on Wednesday, City were also able to move through the gears against Lowestoft on Saturday – even if there was an early scare.
Following a morning training session as the fitness work continues for Farke’s players, the visitors looked tired in the early stages but should already have been at least 3-0 up before the Trawlerboys took a surprise lead.
Lowestoft keeper Ben Dudzinski had made good one-on-one saves from Cameron Jerome and Josh Murphy, Marley Watkins had hit the post and both Steven Naismith and Murphy had fired just wide. Yet an overzealous aerial challenge from centre-back Christoph Zimmermann gave Ady Gallagher’s team, who play in the third tier of non-league, the chance to put an unfamiliar back-line under pressure.
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Left-back Ollie Humphrey swung in the resulting free-kick and defender Rory McAuley rose above 19-year-old Ben Godfrey to nod down in the direction of striker Jake Reed, who managed to bundle the ball past City keeper Michael McGovern and Ipswich Town academy product Travis Cole placed into an empty net.
It brought a huge cheer from the home faithful at the newly named Amber Dew Events Stadium as Norwich were shown they weren’t going to have it all their own way.
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Northern Ireland international McGovern is one of the players thought to be surplus to requirements but the 32-year-old had a chance to impress Farke ahead of Angus Gunn beginning his season-long loan from Manchester City, with Remi Matthews and Paul Jones seemingly providing adequate cover. Little can be read into this relatively quiet shift for the former Hamilton man and he could well have done better to thwart the chance but it was the defensive ghost of season’s past which reared its ugly head.
Farke arrives having had an excellent defensive record with Borussia Dortmund II last season, conceding only 25 goals in 34 games when finishing second in Germany’s fourth tier. Fitness issues are hampering his defensive progress though.
Ivo Pinto (hamstring) and Russell Martin (back) were both absent and when Timm Klose pulled up with a leg issue in the warm-up, Godfrey was moved central alongside Zimmermann, forcing winger Yanic Wildschut into another shift at right-back.
With youngster Jamal Lewis impressing at left-back, it was a unit that dealt reasonably well with the Lowestoft threat – other than the goal – but which would not be fit for Championship battle.
Klose should return to training today and reinforcements are expected though, so Farke was more than happy with a 5-1 win which could have been far more emphatic.
Lewis darted forward and forced a handball from McAuley to win a penalty in the 25th minute, coolly dispatched by Jerome to equalise, and Naismith claimed the lead with a low finish from six yards when played in by Watkins 13 minutes later.
The lively former Barnsley man got on the score-sheet himself after a wonderful through-ball from Josh Murphy just before the break, beating Dudzinski to the ball and rolling home for 3-1.
The bench was emptied at the break, leaving Zimmermann to complete his second full match inside three days, a situation Farke’s is unlikely to be keen on.
Plenty of Canaries fans will have been relieved to see Nelson Oliveira among the players introduced – following speculation linking him with Championship rivals Reading – to casually slot home from 10 yards in the 58th minute to make it 4-1.
Mario Vrancic was also in the second half team and unleashed a bullet of a shot for 5-1 four minutes later before the heat saw the game drift to a close, with pre-season debutant Harrison Reed surviving a rash challenge from home substitute Callum Bishop late on which looked to have left the Southampton loanee in a fair bit of pain initially.
All in all, it was another productive afternoon which keeps the momentum building for City under Farke, but following the sales of Jonny Howson and Graham Dorrans last week those reinforcements need to follow soon to keep things on track.