Supersub Holt sinks Rangers: QPR official claims he was mugged

Once again Paul Lambert rang the changes for Saturday’s match against QPR. Naughton, Fox and Wes were dropped from the 11 which began against Arsenal at Carrow Road last week. In their place came De Laet, Surman and Jackson.

Although nearly recovered from their injuries, Whitbread and Ayala were deemed not yet ready even to warm the bench, and sat with the non-playing City players. Former Canary Michael Nelson made a guest appearance in those seats too, but was wearing casual clothes and not a Canary tracksuit. QPR were without goalkeeper Kenny, the suspended Joey Barton, and last season’s star player Taarabt.

City began in a 4-4-2 formation with captain Russell Martin continuing to partner Barnett at centre back. De Laet played at right back. Jackson and Morison were the strikers, with Pilkington on the right wing and Surman on the left. The Canaries had the better of the first half and almost scored when Morison robbed Ferdinand in the 10th minute, but his shot was saved. Crofts also went close with a powerful 20-yard drive.

City took the lead after 15 minutes when Ferdinand failed to clear Surman’s corner, and Russell Martin scored from close range. The referee was not impressed by Wright-Phillips’ appeal for a penalty after he claimed Ruddy had tried to trip him. Morrison shot just over the bar. Wright-Phillips was Rangers’ best player and twice threatened the City goal just before half-time.

In the second half City started brightly and we began to dream of a clean sheet for the first time this season but alas our defence made its customary error after 60 minutes. Barnett’s poor clearance went straight to Mackie, whose low shot rebounded off the inside of the post for Luke Young to score from a narrow angle with Ruddy a helpless spectator.

Lambert’s reaction was decisive spectacular, and successful. He hauled off Pilkington (who had had a quiet game) and Jackson and sent on the tried and trusted combination of Wes and Holt. Within three minutes they had combined to restore Norwich’s lead. Holt and Surman first set up Morison, who crossed for Holt to put in a header which was blocked on the line by Derry. But QPR failed to clear, and Crofts found Hoolahan on the right hand side of the penalty area and the little magician’s cross was turned in by Holt. That was Holt’s fourth goal of the season and a perfect answer to his critics who have said recently that his diving skills were more evident than his scoring skills.

The final fifteen minutes saw chances at both ends, but City held on to record a welcome victory, the three points taking them up to 10th in the table. This was the first time I had seen the Canaries win in the Premier League this season so I had a tear in my eye. Morison was chosen as Man of the Match. Keep up the good work boys, and let us hope that so far elusive clean sheet comes at the Etihad Stadium next week. The unclean sheet is becoming a monkey on our back, although as I pointed out last week, I personally would be happy to win all our games 2-1 rather than 1-0.

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The win capped a good week for the Capital Canaries. Ipswich conceded two goals in the last three minutes to lose 3-2 at home. That makes five defeats in a row. I believe it is called freefall. The Norwich City Football Club’s AGM at Carrow Road was well attended, with cautious optimism about the future being expressed on all fronts, both on and off the pitch. And on Thursday about 60 of us attended the book signing and Question and Answer session with Darren Huckerby in the New Old Red Lion in Islington. Hucks cheerfully signed our copies of his new book, and answered all our questions with good humour, wit, and candour.

Thank you Hucks and thank you Tim and Matt for organising such an enjoyable evening.

The only sour note this week came from a QPR official, believed to answer to the name of Colin, who complained that his side were mugged. What he meant to say was that both goals QPR conceded were partly the result of poor defending and that on each occasion his defenders were not good enough to stop Norwich scoring. What a mug!