Our finish wasn’t good enough - Cureton

DAVID CUFFLEY Two-goal Jamie Cureton admitted to a sense of anti-climax after a spectacular goalscoring return at Carrow Road last night.


Two-goal Jamie Cureton admitted to a sense of anti-climax after a spectacular goalscoring return at Carrow Road last night.

The 31-year-old striker marked his first competitive appearance for Norwich City for well over a decade with a first-half double in the 5-2 Carling Cup defeat of League Two opponents Barnet.

The first of Cureton's two goals against the Bees, a superb volley from full-back Jon Otsemobor's cross, came after just two minutes, one second of the first round tie, but 11 years and 116 days after the last time he found the net for the Canaries, at home to West Bromwich Albion in April 1996. He added a second after 15 minutes and was denied a hat-trick only by a fine save by Barnet 'keeper Lee Harrison before the break.

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But his successful comeback was clouded by criticism from manager Peter Grant, who substituted Cureton 12 minutes from time, and by the way City lost momentum after taking a 5-0 lead inside half an hour, Simon Lappin, Mark Fotheringham and Darel Russell also getting on the scoresheet to guarantee a second round place.

Said Cureton: “We started the game very well. At half-time I thought we were playing some very good football. We just didn't produce it in the second half so it's taken the gloss off it a bit.

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“I think the manager was annoyed, yes. I don't know if it was personally with me or if he was annoyed with everyone. We weren't playing well, we'd stopped doing what we were doing in the first half and it wasn't good enough.

“All these games are all preparation for the next game. We're playing a big game against Southampton on Saturday and we need to do the right things the game before - we don't want to get into bad habits. The way we finished the game wasn't good enough.”

Grant's criticism surrounded an incident in the second half when Cureton raced on to Lee Croft's through-ball but was dispossessed as he tried to go it alone, rather than setting up substitute David Strihavka.

Grant said: “Jamie's going to get the headlines for his goalscoring. I thought he was terrific in the first half with his movement, the 'keeper made a great save from him and he scored two goals. Then he showed total lack of professionalism when he should have rolled it across to David Strihavka and that's why he didn't finish the game.

“To me it just smacks of a lack of professionalism, a lack of respect for your team and I think that summed up the performance in the second half.”

Nevertheless, City fans will have been delighted to see a razor-sharp Cureton knocking in the goals, the first of them so soon after kick-off.

He said: “I think it was near enough my first touch. It was pleasing personally to get a couple of goals out of the way, but probably a bit more disappointing the way we finished the game. It wasn't as we started it and I think it's put a bit of a damper on the evening.

“But I think we have to take the positives. The first half was outstanding. When you play lower league teams, sometimes it's tough and I thought we put on a display that showed we were a few leagues above them.

“We did a very professional job, attacking wise, and created a lot of chances and took them so we've got to take that into the Southampton game. We can't really dwell on the second half. I'm sure we'll work on the things the manager wasn't happy with this week and put them right because when you play big teams at our level they're going to punish you more and they won't give away the goals that we scored today.

“But it's 45 minutes that we've not performed in. The boys are professional enough to put that to the back of their minds and just move on to the next game.”

Cureton admitted he fancied a hat-trick, saying: “When you score two quite early on you hope the third one's going to come. I obviously had chances to get it, but I'll go home pleased with my first 45 minutes.”

Being kept on the bench for Saturday's 0-0 draw at Preston had made him impatient for a slice of action, he said.

“I had the illness and missed a lot of training so I don't think the manager really could have picked me, but once I was on the bench I was itching to come on. The manager made his decision and didn't feel the game suited me.

“So I wanted to get out there as quickly as possible. Given the chance tonight, I was buzzing. The first 45 minutes couldn't really have gone any better.”

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