Records are tumbling at Norwich City as win at Ipswich keeps momentum building
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
As records continue to tumble for the Canaries under head coach Daniel Farke, DAVID FREEZER reflects on how City have taken control of the longest ever unbeaten run in East Anglian derby history.
There is just no stopping Norwich City away from home at the moment.
Nerves never really reared their ugly heads for City at Portman Road, as Daniel Farke’s well-drilled side stood firm in the face of late pressure from the desperate hosts.
As soon as Marco Stiepermann picked out James Maddison unmarked in the Town box the ball was destined to finish up in the back of the net, such is the confidence flowing through the young man’s veins right now.
That classy strike amid the noise and pressure of derby day has kept the 20-year-old’s value soaring but it was invaluable in East Anglian derby terms.
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Victory in Suffolk increased City’s superiority of the fixture to a dominant nine matches – the longest unbeaten streak in the history of the rivalry in league and major cup competitions.
Going into Sunday’s battle the Canaries were tied with the Blues on eight unbeaten, achieved by Ipswich under the late, great Sir Bobby Robson between April 1979 and January 1981.
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Maddison cementing his place as a fans’ favourite with a derby day winner has now put City out in front, with a Carrow Road game to come later this season.
Canaries fans will already be looking forward to that, with the psychological edge now clear in these edgy encounters.
Mick McCarthy and players including Luke Chambers, Cole Skuse and Bartosz Bialkowski are now tainted by inferiority and the Tractor Boys never really looked liked they believed they could find an equaliser.
Norwich, conversely, appeared to be thriving on the big occasion.
The belief flowing from the 2,000 away fans to help keep the players on course stemmed not just from derby dominance but from the recent foundations laid by Farke and his team.
The narrow 1-0 win at Sheffield United in September was just a third victory in 21 away games.
Following that up with wins at Brentford, Middlesbrough, Reading and Ipswich takes that to seven in 25, which certainly has a nicer ring to it, at least.
Maddison has been pivotal to this run and is becoming increasingly hot property, deservedly being picked ahead of Wes Hoolahan and Mario Vrancic in the central attacking midfield role. If he continues his current hot streak, full of twisting runs, close control and incisive passing, then Alex Pritchard will have a job on his hands getting back into the team when he returns to fitness in December.
The Coventry City academy product’s fine finish took his personal tally to three goals in four games, following on from a long-range winner at Boro and a superb free-kick in the 2-1 win at Reading.
The goal at the Riverside won him the Championship goal of the month award and a nomination for the division’s player of the month, as well as the club’s player of the month Champagne.
He seems unfazed by his progress though, taking his success in his stride like a man who believes he will reach higher levels.
Tottenham and Liverpool, let’s not forget, had also been interested when City signed him from Coventry in a deal reportedly worth £3.5million in January 2016.
Fortunately, sporting director Stuart Webber made the shrewd move to hand Maddison a new contract until 2020 in June, with the option of a further year for the club, so any of the big boys sniffing around in January are going to need plenty of cash to catch City’s attention.
All in all, it made for a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon for all connected with the Canaries, soaking up the glory of a third win in the last five visits to Portman Road as the gravy soaked into their roast potatoes on the dinner table.
It’s the first time a Norwich team has gone nine unbeaten since Chris Hughton’s team impressively went 10 unbeaten in the Premier League, including a League Cup win over Tottenham.
Alex Neil’s team managed four away league successes on the bounce towards the end of 2014/15 but it is the first time a City side have won five away games consecutively in 29 years.
That came at the start of the 1988-89 campaign when Dave Stringer’s team won at Boro, Newcastle, Derby and Manchester United in the top flight, with a League Cup win at Preston in the mix – fine company for Farke’s team to be mixing with.
The win has lifted the Canaries into sixth place in the Championship, ahead of another big game on Tuesday.
All 8,800 tickets available have been sold for a Carabao Cup fourth round tie at Premier League giants Arsenal, sending the Canaries and their fans to the Emirates with spirits flying sky high.
• It was also good fun to get a taste of derby day from City fans in the pub ahead of the game, click here to take a look at our rather lively pre-match video