Photo Gallery: Norwich City’s Steve Morison worth his weight in goals after scoring winner at West Brom
West Brom 1, Norwich City 2: One year ago, the headline-making transfer deals in English football’s January transfer window were Fernando Torres’ switch from Liverpool to Chelsea, and Andy Carroll’s move from Newcastle to Anfield to replace him. The combined cost was a cool �85m.
In 12 months since then, Spanish star Torres has managed three Premier League goals and England centre-forward Carroll just four.
In just over half a season, Norwich City summer signing Steve Morison, reported to have cost �2.1m rising to �2.8m when he arrived from Millwall, has already overtaken the combined goal total of the two international stars since their moves, despite the fact that he is not being spoon-fed chances by a host of household names – at least not outside these parts.
Morison’s eighth Premier League goal of the season, and his ninth in all competitions, clinched the Canaries’ second successive away victory when he struck 11 minutes from time against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns. Twelve days earlier, he had fired the winner seven minutes from the end against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road. It is a useful habit to get into.
None of this is to suggest that Morison, playing Conference football three seasons ago, is in the same league as Torres when it comes to strikers, although – taken literally – he currently is in the same league.
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This was in fact one of his quieter afternoons in City colours. Apart from almost catching former England goalkeeper Ben Foster by surprise in the early stages when he squeezed the ball on to the post, Morison flickered in and out of the contest, but he proved his value once again when he thundered in to head the winner from a peach of a cross by substitute Grant Holt.
It was the 13th headed goal the Canaries had scored in the league this season. For a team that at times plays exquisite football on the floor, their air force is still full of menace.
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Manager Paul Lambert made five changes for the third game in a row, but so interchangeable is the current squad that it was once again a smooth transition and the weekend’s chosen few registered City’s third straight win of 2012.
Victory did not look all that likely in the opening half, however, when Albion largely held sway without finding the finishing touch.
There was an escape for the Canaries as early as the fifth minute when Peter Odemwingie, scorer of the winner at Carrow Road in September, let fly with a powerful drive that was pushed on to the bar by goalkeeper John Ruddy.
It was Albion’s turn for a lucky break in the 11th minute when Morison chased Russell Martin’s pass into the area, where Foster came out, and the striker’s intervention sent the ball spinning on to the outside of the post.
Ruddy kept City on terms after 21 minutes, however, when Odemwingie and James Morrison combined well to put Simon Cox through, but the ’keeper did well to smother his shot at close range.
Andrew Surman was next to the rescue for City on the half-hour when Morrison struck a goalbound effort that he headed off the line.
The value of that intervention was underlined two minutes before the break when the Canaries went ahead through Surman’s third goal of the season.
Anthony Pilkington picked out Simeon Jackson on the right and the Canadian calmly set up Wes Hoolahan, whose cross to the edge of the area Surman sweetly volleyed left-footed past Foster.
Morrison fired just over for Albion after the break, but it took the introduction of striker Shane Long – so often a thorn in Norwich’s side – to bring the home side on terms.
Long almost scored with his first touch as the ever-dangerous Jerome Thomas found him on the edge of the six-yard box and Ruddy brilliantly palmed away his shot, then the ’keeper had to keep out a snapshot by Cox which he grabbed at the second attempt.
But Albion were on terms midway through the half when Daniel Ayala, less composed than on his two previous outings, cut down Thomas just inside the six-yard box at the cost of a penalty and his third successive yellow card. Long coolly tucked his spot-kick to Ruddy’s left for his sixth goal against the Canaries.
Before play restarted, Lambert made a double change by introducing Andrew Crofts and Holt and City went on the offensive, but Gareth McAuley almost made it 2-1 to Albion when he headed straight at Ruddy from Graham Dorrans’ corner.
The Canaries had the last word with 11 minutes to go, however. Kyle Naughton, impressive again at left-back, whipped the ball away from Youssouf Mulumbu and exchanged passes with Holt, then sent the substitute racing away down the left, where he delivered the perfect cross for Morison to power in a header that Foster could only help into the net.