Stalemate at Carrow Road

Alex Tettey battles Newcastle's James Perch for the ball. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

Alex Tettey battles Newcastle's James Perch for the ball. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City drew 0-0 with Newcastle United at Carrow Road on Saturday. The game was by no means a classic; it never really caught fire, and BBC MOTD showed it last in their programme.

In truth and with hindsight, both sides will probably be happy with the point; the Canaries because it halted a sequence of four successive defeats, and the Magpies because they had lost nine of their previous 11 league games, and were still reeling from the defection of Demba Ba, arguably their star player, to Chelsea.

Norwich made seven changes to the side that won at Peterborough in the FA Cup. Bunn returned in goal, protected by a back four of Russell Martin, Turner, Bassong, and Garrido. They in turn were protected by Tettey and Johnson. Pilkington and Snodgrass were on the flanks. Jackson led the line with Hoolahan supporting him. Howson was injured and sat with the non-playing City players, wearing what looked like a tea cosy on his head to keep warm. Morison was nowhere to be seen, and Holt started on the bench.

City had an early scare in the second minute when Bassong left a ball alone thinking it was going out of play. Obertan managed to nip round him and get a cross in but fortunately Bunn was able to save. Obertan tested Bunn again after 15 minutes, and soon afterwards City had a couple of real chances when Jackson and Hoolahan combined well. Both sides were guilty of too many misplaced passes and wayward shooting, and the whistle for the end of the half was in some ways a relief. Remarkably, there was not even one second of extra time added to the first 45 minutes.

The fare served up by both sides was no better in the second half than it had been in the first. City’s best chance came with 25 minutes remaining when Russell Martin’s long range effort struck the post. Shortly afterwards Jackson was withdrawn and Holt came on to cheers from the home support. Holt set up Snodgrass whose run ended in a pass to Pilkington, but Pilks’ shot was saved by keeper Krull. Immediately afterwards Elliott Bennett replaced Snodgrass. As the match petered to a close there was almost a dramatic and happy ending for Norwich as Holt’s header flashed across the goal. Pilkington tried but failed to glance it into the net.

This was not a great spectacle to set before the Bishop of Norwich who was in attendance. After the game manager Hughton suggested that City should have won against his former club. Indeed they did have the better of the play, but neither side really deserved a win. Both sides might usefully practice several skills during the coming week’s training. Passing, set pieces, and shooting on target could all be improved immensely.

After a poor game and without having secured three points, the Capital Canaries settled down to enjoy a comfortable train journey back to London. Alas we were informed that due to signalling problems we would have to detrain at Shenfield and take a Metro train to Liverpool Street. We were packed like the proverbial sardines. I didn’t know there were so many stations between Shenfield and Liverpool Street, but there were and we stopped at them all. Eventually we arrived cold, late, hungry and thirsty back at the Metropolis. Some of our number and most of the Newcastle fans missed their onward connections. Such are the trials and tribulations of living in London and supporting the Canaries.