Iwan Roberts: Tim Krul proves my point after battle royale at Carrow Road
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
I really enjoyed my visit back to Carrow Road last weekend for the game against Swanswea, with the bonus that I could have a nice gentle stroll down there to see two very good sides go at it hammer and tongs – two teams that, come the beginning of May, will be right up there in the mix to win automatic promotion.
I have to be honest, I thought Norwich were slightly fortunate to win the game, and once again it was that man Tim Krul who was the main reason for Steve Cooper’s men leaving empty-handed. Tim’s performance in that second half reiterated what I said last week; he’s the best goalkeeper in the Championship.
Tim made three outstanding saves in that second half to keep the score goalless. The best of the three was his first, when he somehow produced an unbelievable reaction stop to thwart Jamal Lowe after his bursting run into the Norwich penalty box. From my seat in the press box, as soon as Lewis had hit the ball I was expecting to see the net bulge, but somehow Tim got a big strong hand to the ball to tip it over the bar.
The only time Tim was beaten was in the first half – fortunately for Norwich they saw Andre Ayew’s powerful header smash off Tim’s right-hand post and away from danger.
Midway through the second half I thought Max Aarons was ever so fortunate not to give away a penalty when he looked to have brought down Jake Bidwell. The Swansea left-back pinched the ball from Max, whose body position was all wrong, making him unaware of Bidwell’s position on his shoulder. I always look at a player’s reaction when he might have given a penalty away as it gives me an indication as to whether he’s guilty or not. The way Max reacted for me gave it away – as soon as Bidwell fell, he straight away put both hands in the air and looked to see where the referee’s position was, as if to say, ‘I hope he’s not seen that’.
You have to give Daniel Farke so much credit for Saturday’s win. Just as we all thought that the game was heading towards a 0-0 draw he turned to his bench (a strong-looking bench it was too). But to everybody’s surprise he didn’t turn to strikers Jordan Hugill or Adam Idah, and he didn’t even throw Mario Vrancic on to go and win him the game as he did against Wycombe a few weeks ago.
Instead, he turned to 19-year-old Bali Mumba, and boy didn’t the young man do well? Bali’s only been 19 for just over a month, but what an impact he made when he came on. His pace is scary. I think he could be even quicker than Darren Huckerby (Hucks will hate me for saying that).
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I get the feeling that Daniel looked at Swansea’s shape in those last 15, 20 minutes and when he saw that Ayew was playing more often down Swansea’s left hand-side, I think he may have thought that there’s no way on this planet he’s tracking back Bali’s forward runs, which would give Swansea right-back Connor Roberts a problem, which it inevitably did.
Connor had no answer to Bali’s pace, he simply couldn’t handle him one on one, and no other Swansea player came across to help him. He did so well for the goal, showing good awareness as he picked out Emi Buendia in the penalty box, and Emi’s pass was there for Marco Stiepermann to smash home.
It was a great win for Norwich and it put them in a much better place mentally going into this international break, the last one until March now.
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