Robert Snodgrass strike earns Norwich City a well deserved point at Spurs
For the trip to White Hart Lane Chris Hughton stuck with the eleven who played so well against QPR at Carrow Road, but added Turner and new signing Alexander Tettey to his substitutes’ bench at the expense of Ryan Bennett and Chris Martin.
There were changes to the Spurs line up too - Modric and Van der Vaart had been sold and the hoped for signing of Moutinho had not happened, leading to rumblings of discontent from the Spurs faithful. Kyle Naughton, who spent last season on loan at Carrow Road, was on the Spurs bench, and when his name was read out it was followed by a generous round of applause from the massed ranks of yellow and green in the Park Lane end of the ground.
To the surprise of both sets of fans Spurs began the first half with only one striker and a packed midfield. Both sides seemed happy simply to contain the opposition and most of the battle was fought in the middle of the park. City created the two best chances of the first half; Russell Martin saw his headed attempt on goal hit the crossbar, and Spurs’ veteran keeper Friedel made an excellent save from a diving header from Snodgrass. Johnson too had gone close with a long range effort.
Although Lennon was finding space on the right flank, Spurs really only threatened once in the first half, when Ruddy parried a shot from Bale and comfortably held on to the follow up shot. As the Canary fans applauded their team off the pitch at half-time so Spurs left to a crescendo of boos from their disappointed supporters.
At the beginning of the second half Spurs replaced Sandro with new signing Dembele, who had played so well for Fulham in their opening day rout of Norwich. Both sides created chances; Snodgrass curled a free-kick wide of the post and Holt headed over from a Snodgrass cross. Friedel saved well from Pilkington. After 55 minutes Spurs brought on Adebayor for Sigurdsson, and 15 minutes later they took the lead when Dembele (that man again!) robbed Howson and passed to Defoe. On receiving the ball back he evaded a tackle and shot past Ruddy into the corner of the net. Immediately after the goal, Morison replaced the industrious Jackson, and might have had a penalty when his shirt was clearly pulled by Assou-Ekotto. But soon afterwards he won a free-kick which the Spurs defence failed to clear, and Snodgrass was on hand to drive the ball into the net.
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There was still more drama in the final five minutes. Huddlestone, who had come on in place of Defoe, lasted only seven minutes on the pitch before receiving a red card for a late follow through tackle on Howson. Had Johnson’s last minute long range thunderbolt gone in Spurs could have had no complaints, but it went wide. For a second successive season City had played excellently at White Hart Lane and come away this time with a well deserved point. They were applauded off the pitch as their fans celebrated. In contrast Spurs were jeered off, with many of their fans openly wondering about their transfer policy and their manager’s tactics and tenure.
So for the first time this season City did not concede a penalty in a league game. They won their first away point of the season, played exceptionally well at White Hart Lane again, and Snodgrass scored his first goal for the club. With a bit more luck and a few more decisions going our way we might even have won the game. Hughton can be well pleased with his return to the stage which he graced with such presence and success for so many years.
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Sad I know, but after the game I stayed to say Hi to former Canary Martin Peters (now a matchday host at Tottenham), to admire the massed ranks of sleek Jaguars, Range Rovers with blacked out windows, and even an Aston Martin DB 6, in the Spurs’ car park, and to watch the Norwich team coach pull out of White Hart Lane. It was not full when it departed, as many of our players made their way directly to international friendly duty. Hughton will be hoping that all his players return safely without injury, and reflecting on his dealings in the market before the transfer window slammed shut. My own view is that they are a mixed bag. Since they have hardly had a chance to show what they can do, the jury must remain out on Butterfield, Tettley, Turner, and Whittaker.
I wonder whether we really needed Bunn, and Hughton has done really well to secure the services of Bassong, Garrido, and Snodgrass. All three have already proved to be excellent buys. Despite the rumours, neither Biglia, Mackail-Smith, nor Rhodes made it to Carrow Road. Harry Kane did, on loan. I wonder how many games he will play this season. And at the weekend James Vaughan scored for Huddersfield and Mackail Smith grabbed a brace for Brighton. Hmm.