New boys gave Norwich City positives amid worries about injuries after Bielefeld draw
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Two strikers opening their pre-season accounts is always very welcome – and Norwich City were grateful for some positives in Gutersloh.
In an opening friendly which was primarily aimed at shaking off the cobwebs, there were too many injury worries for comfort, yet it was also a chance to see three new boys in action.
For the hardy 100 or so who made the effort to take in City's game against Arminia Bielefeld there was the opportunity to see goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann, loan winger Patrick Roberts and Swiss striker Josip Drmic.
The towering Fahrmann got the first 45 minutes to shake off some cobwebs, ahead of a friendly against his parent club Schalke on Friday when he will be keen to impress.
With the passing game that you would expect of an experienced Bundesliga player, featuring a few risky passes which he just about get away with as Arminia pressed high, the loanee made a fine save in the 17th minute.
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Louis Thompson, playing at right-back and seemingly soon after straining a hamstring, was skinned by Andreas Voglsammer but Fahrmann sprawled to his left to parry the resulting low shot away. Sadly Thompson's race was run and he was limping off yet again, as his injury frustrations continued.
With Ben Godfrey also going off injured a defensive reshuffle forced Jamal Lewis to centre-back alongside Grant Hanley, with Philip Heise on at left-back.
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It was Lewis who then lost possession which allowed Voglsammer to attack an exposed Fahrmann, who couldn't prevent Reinhold Yabo turning in from close range at his back post.
Tim Krul knows he has a fight on his hands for the starting role between the posts but City's current number one also reminded everyone of his abilities, with a cracking stop in the 49th minute.
The Dutchman kept out a Fabian Klos header from a corner at point-blank range when a goal looked certain and then claimed the resulting corner well, with plenty of vocal encouragement throughout the second half as well.
Former Manchester City and Celtic winger Roberts enjoyed a decent first 45 minutes, playing an important role in claiming the lead.
He also forced a fine save from Bielefeld keeper Stefan Ortega in the 20th minute though, cutting in from the right on to his stronger left foot after Emi Buendia had surged forward, only to see his rising shot tipped over the bar.
The 22-year-old also linked well with Max Aarons in the 42nd minute, threading the right-back into the box only for a good block to put the ball behind for a corner.
Roberts whipped the ball in himself and Brian Berhendt rose to challenge for the ball but conceded an unfortunate penalty for handball. That allowed Drmic to open his account from the penalty spot - something the striker must have been particularly keen to do.
The 26-year-old's last action was in the Uefa Nations League in early June, coming on for Switzerland during the closing stages of normal time of the third-place play-off against England.
The game went to a penalty shoot-out and Drmic was the unfortunate player to see the decisive spot-kick saved by Jordan Pickford - so at least he's laid that ghost to rest quickly.
Generally the former Borussia Monchengladbach forward led the line well and showed a classy touch but didn't quite look to have the energy of Teemu Pukki. Dennis Srbeny was the other striker to score though, not star man Pukki, with the equaliser shortly before Drmic's penalty late in the first half.
The German, who had to be so patient on the fringes of last season's superb success, seized on loose play by Bielefeld to the left of the penalty area, cut on to his right foot and curled a lovely shot around the keeper.
It may have been disappointing to see the Blues equalise in the 86th minute of a calmer second half after the eventful first 45 minutes, but Krul was given little chance by a fine strike from Jomaine Consbruch.
A team with 10 men probably shouldn't have had the space to take such a shot but City - who had a training session in the morning - were tiring as their first tune-up came to an end.
There was another new player, of sorts, for Canaries supporters to get a first look at during the final 15 minutes. Teen striker Adam Idah, fresh from a new contract and promotion to the first team, came on and physically looked more than comfortable in the men's game.
The tall 18-year-old showed a good touch and a calm head which so nearly helped the tourists snatch a late winner, collecting Pukki's shot which had hit the post and rather than shooting, he teed up the better option of Marco Stiepermann - only for Ortega to guess correctly with his dive and keep the score at 2-2.
Reading too much into the early stages of pre-season is always a dangerous game but in spite of the injury concerns, there was still plenty for spectators to assess as the opening night of the Premier League at Anfield on August 9 moved a step closer.