Newcastle United 1, Norwich City 0: It’s another case of never on a Sunday for Canaries
OK. Here are two questions for the anoraks amongst you. Which team has never won in any of the 15 Premier League games which it has played on a Sunday? And which team holds the record for conceding goals in each of its last 29 Premier League games away from home?
The correct answer to both questions is, of course, Norwich City, following their 1-0 defeat to Newcastle on Sunday.
Manager Paul Lambert made four changes to his side for the all-avian clash between the Canaries and the Magpies at St James’ Park, as the majority of locals still call their ground.
Nearly 2,000 Canaries fans made the long journey to the north east, despite the last-minute change of timing to accommodate the TV cameras.
Andrew Crofts, Wes Hoolahan, Grant Holt, and Simeon Jackson all started on the bench. Jonny Howson, Steve Morison, Elliot Bennett and Anthony Pilkington all started in their places. There was no place for new signing Ryan Bennett and in Holt’s absence Elliot Ward captained the side for the first time.
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Before the game there was a minute’s applause for Bolton player Fabrice Muamba, fighting for his life after suffering a heart attack in the FA Cup tie against Tottenham on Saturday.
Bill Shankly might not have agreed, but the reaction of fans all over the country to Muamba’s plight recognised that some things are more important than the result of a football match.
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Newcastle drew first blood after 11 minutes when Papiss Cisse beat Zak Whitbread for speed and scored from Jonas Gutierrez’s cross. John Ruddy kept the Canaries in the game with two good saves from Demba Ba’s volley and Cisse’s shot.
Andrew Surman might have equalised just before half-time following good work by Bennett, but he blazed wide. And in a period of Norwich pressure Howson shot over the bar.
Norwich had two good chances early in the second half, but Dutch keeper Tim Krul made excellent saves from Pilkington’s shot and Whitbread’s header.
Lambert sent on Holt for Howson after 75 minutes and Hoolahan for Drury after 82. Howson saw one attempt clear the bar by several feet, and Surman failed with an ambitious bicycle kick. Russell Martin replaced Pilkington with three minutes remaining. Morison had a good chance a minute from time, but his shot lacked power and Krul saved without too much difficulty. For Norwich, Bennett, Whitbread and Naughton were booked.
Just for a change, manager Lambert described his side’s performance as “excellent”.
The statistics show that City had nearly 50pc of the possession and no fewer than 12 attempts on goal.
Not bad for a visit to a venue as intimidating as St James’ Park.
This was indeed a better performance from the Canaries than their previous visit to the north east, when they capitulated at Sunderland, but well though they played at the beginning of the second half, it was another disappointment in front of the live TV cameras.
Norwich have now won only once this season in their live televised games. But there will be no live cameras when we play free falling Wolves at Carrow Road on Saturday in what will be a battle of the not-in-form teams.
Both sides will be desperate for the points, and that game promises to be a real humdinger.
Keep the faith. And “Come on you Yellows”.
• If you would like the chance to report on a Norwich City game this season - home or away - please contact Peter Raven on firstname.lastname@example.org