Norwich City sign off their season in style

Norwich City players celebrate Jonny Howson's winning goal. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

Norwich City players celebrate Jonny Howson's winning goal. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City signed off the 2012-13 season in fine style on Sunday at the Etihad Stadium by defeating Manchester City 3-2 in an exciting game.

Three times they led, and twice Man City equalised, but the Canaries were not to be denied and Howson’s goal proved to be not only the winner but also the icing on the cake.

Norwich kept faith with the players who had done so well in the previous week’s encounter with West Brom. The only change was that Whittaker replaced Bassong. Player of the season Bassong was still suffering from a knee injury. Whittaker played at full back, with Martin partnering Ryan Bennett in the centre of defence.

Playing for the first time in their new kit, the Canaries started brightly. Holt, Snodgrass and Bennett all had attempts on goal denied early on, and City had a penalty shout disallowed when Yaya Toure appeared to handle the ball but they did take the lead after 26 minutes when Johnson and Hoolahan combined well, leaving Pilkington to pick up Hoolahan’s pass and beat Hart. Pilkington seems to like scoring against Manchester clubs: he had already scored against both City and United earlier in the season at Carrow Road.

The lead lasted only three minutes though before Rodwell equalised. At the other end Hart could only push Snodgrass’ free kick over the bar. Johnson headed wide from the resulting corner.

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So 1-1 at half-time. The home crowd continued to chant the name of their former manager, but were silenced when Norwich regained the lead after 54 minutes. Snodgrass controlled a brilliant pass from Hoolahan and as his cross rolled tantalisingly across the goal Holt was first to reach it and side-foot home. His eighth goal of the season made him City’s leading scorer this term.

Again the lead lasted only a few minutes. Rodwell equalised again, from Toure’s pass this time. But Norwich had their tails up and sensed that they could still win the game. Encouraged perhaps by his successful strike in the last game Howson scored an even better goal this time round. He picked up the ball in his own half, left four blue defenders in his wake, ran more than half the length of the pitch, and beat Joe Hart, England’s no. 2 goalkeeper.

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After the goal Tettey replaced Johnson, and a few minutes later Elliott Bennett replaced Pilkington. In the last minute Becchio replaced Holt. At the death Becchio might have opened his account for the Canaries had Tettey passed to him, but the midfielder elected to shoot instead and his shot went wide. Man City had the best defensive record in the Premier League at home so to put three goals past them in such convincing style was quite some achievement. The Canaries can be well pleased with their afternoon’s work.

So thanks to their final flourish Norwich finished with 44 points in 11th place in the Premier League, one place higher than last season, and their highest league position since 1993. They earned about £7.5million in prize money for doing so. We have had our ups and downs this season, but I regard this as a very satisfactory conclusion to the season, and would like to congratulate the players and management on a fine achievement. Speculation will no doubt be rife in the next few weeks about players coming in and leaving. But for the moment we hope our players have a well-deserved rest this summer on the beaches of Malibu, Marbella or Mundelsey, and we hope that all Canary fans in Norfolk, London or elsewhere do too.

For those of you who suffer from NCFC withdrawal symptoms, remember that you can keep up to date with news about the Canaries throughout the summer on the Pink Un website. Next season’s fixtures come out on June 19th at 9am. City’s pre-season tour this year is to the USA. And the Wolfman will be with us next season.

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