Strange goings on in Norfolk
Something strange and unusual happened tonight in Norfolk. Norwich City completed a Premier League football match without conceding a penalty.
OK once again they finished the match with only 10 men on the pitch. But this time their numbers were depleted through injury. Not a red card was waved at a City player. Not a penalty was awarded against them.
And we can all exult in our first home win of the season, our first back to back wins, and our rapid rise into the top half of the Premier League table. City sit proudly in ninth position in the table, just one point behind the top six, well above the relegation zone, and above such big spenders as Arsenal, Everton, and Sunderland.
Paul Lambert kept faith with the team that won at Bolton, which meant that club captain and talisman Holt had to be content with a place on the bench. Russell Martin kept his place in the heart of the defence at the expense of De Laet. During the first three minutes the Sunderland keeper had to cut the sleeves off his shirt, presumably because of a clash with the Norwich colours. It made him look like a surfer who had lost his way on the way home from the beach.
Like City, Sunderland came into the game on the back of a significant first win of the season last time out. But unlike the Canaries they were unable to raise their game for a second week in succession. Norwich were good value for their win and dominated the first eighty two minutes of the game. Sunderland were very poor apart from the last five minutes, and showed very little spirit or appetite for the game.
Former Canary legend Steve Bruce, now the manager at the Stadium of Light and under increasing pressure from the Sunderland fans, spent the first half of the game with his arms folded and a frown on his face. In the second half he was more animated but unable to lift his players. John Ruddy only had one save to make in the first half. Sessegnon’s shooting in particular seemed to pose more danger to the spectators than it did to the Norwich goal.
Norwich scored the goal their pressure deserved after 30 minutes. After a superb one-two with David Fox, Bennett outpaced two defenders and crossed, and as former Ipswich player Titus Bramble dithered, Barnett had plenty of space and time to score from the edge of the six yard box.
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After 48 minutes City doubled their lead when Russell Martin surged out of the defence and played a delightful through ball to Tierney and his cross was met by Morison, who headed in his first goal in Canary colours. The first of many we hope. The Canaries almost added a third goal after 63 minutes, but keeper Mignolet defied both Bennett and Martin.
After 77 minutes Holt and Vaughan replaced Morison and Pilkington. City’s final change came in the 85th minute when Crofts replaced Bennett. City had to play the last six minutes with only ten men when Vaughan hobbled off. That man is so unlucky with injuries. Get well soon Vaughany.
To be fair during the last few minutes the Black Cats got amongst the Canaries. Richardson scored with five minutes to go, and both Naughton and Ruddy were booked for time wasting. The fourth official added a full five minutes of extra time. (Surely there must be at least one fourth official who knows how to tell the time? And if so why does he never officiate at Norwich matches?). But City held on for a priceless victory.
As Margaret Thatcher said in another context, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!” And as I said “Wickham, Wickham what’s the score? Hurt Norwich? Silence the Canary fans? Score a goal? You’re ‘aving a larf?”
Who are we playing next? Who cares! On our current run of form we are doing better than them. We are playing well. Our luck has changed. Maybe WE will get a penalty at Old Trafford....