Kei Kamara the inspiration for Norwich City’s late late show
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City beat Everton 2-1 at Carrow Road on Saturday. It was their first win in ten league games, and all the more welcome because of that.
The Canaries started positively with two up front, but the game really changed when Kamara came on for the last 30 minutes. His introduction was inspiring, defining, game changing, and perhaps even season saving. It galvanised the fans and his teammates and cowed the Toffees into capitulation.
Everton had been firmly in control of the match, but two goals in the final six minutes from Kamara and Holt sent the Norwich players, management and supporters into seventh heaven.
City made two changes to the team which had drawn with Fulham in their last League match. Skipper Grant Holt returned from injury to partner Becchio in attack. Howson replaced the injured Tettey in midfield. Elliott Bennett dropped to the bench. Both sides started lively and Snodgrass won an early corner. Everton were lucky in the 18th minute when Howson’s fierce shot struck Holt’s back. The hirsute villain of the piece, Fellaini, made a couple of determined runs, but midway through the first half he was involved in a clash with Johnson. The City player won the free kick, however Fellaini had to leave the field for treatment to his bloody knee, and he remonstrated angrily to the referee that Johnson should be punished. The crowd hooted their derision.
Five minutes before the break, the Toffees took the lead when Osman was allowed a free header after Baines had crossed. Although Holt and Hoolahan had had chances, Everton deserved their lead on the basis of their first half play.
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Everton continued to dominate at the beginning of the second half. The referee seemed to give every contentious or 50/50 decision to Everton. Holt was booked for a foul on Coleman. When finally a free kick was awarded to the Canaries, the Barclay stand broke into a Hallelujah chorus, which at least made a change from the stand up /sit down game they had been playing with the stewards. With 30 minutes remaining Kamara replaced Becchio and the atmosphere in the stadium was electrified. Whilst warming up Kamara waved confidently to the crowd. And in his first action on the pitch he tried a spectacular scissors kick from Snodgrass’ pass. Then he headed wide from Hoolahan’s cross.
With 73 minutes on the clock, Hoolahan made way for Pilkington. It was Pilks who won the corner which Snodgrass took and Kamara beat Fellaini to powerfully head home his first goal in English football. Carrow Road exploded with elation. Kamara and Bassong danced for joy.
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The 90 minutes was up by now, but City had the scent of victory in their nostrils and wave after wave of yellow and green marauderers poured toward the River End goal. As the seconds ticked by Distin blocked Holt’s shot. The Toffees’ fans beseeched the referee to blow the final whistle. Martin crossed from the left towards the far post where three Canary giants were waiting. Bassong it was who jumped highest and headed the ball down to where Holt pounced and toe poked the ball over the line. Carrow Road erupted like a volcano. The crowd were on their feet (sorry, stewards). The players hugged each other by the corner flag. The Norwich bench leapt up in unison like so many jack in the boxes. Ruddy and Barnett on the non playing players bench embraced.
Everton kicked off disconsolately. Four seconds later the final whistle blew. Pandemonium ensued. Manager Moyes refused to shake the referee’s hand but instead berated him for adding so much time. Maybe Everton’s earlier time wasting had conveniently slipped his mind. The home support completely forgot the barren run of the last nine games. Confidence and self belief abounded amongst the crowd and the players.
What a difference a win makes! City are now 12th in the table. Bring on United! What price a Canary double? On Saturday night the Canaries were so delirious that no-one would bet against it! Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!