We wuz robbed
High Noon and High Drama at Carrow Road. This was our first home game in the Premier League for six years.
It was a game against the oldest club in the Premier League. Indeed Stoke City are the second oldest club in the world. Only Notts County have a longer history.
Lambert made no fewer than six changes for this game. Out from the team which faced Wigan went Russell Martin, Whitbread, Hoolahan, Fox, Morison, and Surman. In came Barnett, Naughton, Bradley Johnson, Bennett, Pilkington and Chris Martin. Clearly this was a team picked to win at home against what was expected to be a physical challenge from Stoke.
The game kicked off at 1.30pm, and in the first half everything seemed to be going according to plan. City passed the ball well and switched the ball effortlessly from wing to wing. They took the lead when Bradley Johnson’s free kick was headed home by de Laet, to send the majority of the 26,272 crowd into raptures.
City looked good value for their lead but survived a major scare in the 64th minute when Stoke were awarded a penalty after Barnett challenged former Ipswich player Walters. The referee got it doubly wrong. Not only was the challenge well outside the box, but there seemed to be no actual contact between the players. Even the pundits on BBC Match of the Day agreed about that. To add insult to injury Barnett received a red card and was sent off.
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Ruddy endeared himself to the Carrow Road faithful by saving the penalty, so some justice was done, but City would be a man short for the rest of the game. For the final half hour the ten-man Canaries battled hard.
Daniel Ayala came on to make his City debut. The attacking flair of Pilkington was sacrificed to ensure that City had two centre backs to counter Stoke’s robust attacking style. Jackson replaced Chris Martin for the last five minutes.
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In his wisdom the fourth official decreed that there would be five minutes of added time and, despite the heroic efforts of the ten men, disaster struck in the third minute of added time. Kenwyne Jones’ header beat Ruddy, and Stoke grabbed a share of the points.
So City’s record after two games is no wins, two draws and no defeats. The performances have been better than that and deserve a better return. In neither the home nor the away game have City been outclassed nor given any sort of run around. Indeed they have given as good as they got.
Our football has been adventurous and positive. But we do need to record a win soon, both to ensure that we accumulate points steadily throughout the season and keep well above the relegation zone, and to overcome the psychological barrier of proving that we can acquire our first three points.
What better place to do that than at Stamford Bridge next Saturday? It will be interesting to see who plays at centre back for Norwich to keep Torres and/or Drogba under control. Elliott Ward is still on crutches and much will depend on the speed of Whitbread’s recovery from his knee injury.
Since the seating in the front of the City Stand has been reconfigured to accommodate the new dug outs, what used to be the first row of spectators behind the Norwich dug out has been allocated to the non-playing City players. There they were, all club suited and booted. Some, like Ward and Whitbread, were there because of injury. Others like Drury and McNamee were there because they had not made the bench, but were in the seats instead. I guess that is a consequence of our having a bigger squad this season. And I am sure that they all shared the disappointment when Stoke equalised at the death.
Mind you, it could be worse. We could be Ipswich fans. We could be running out of fingers on which to count the goals scored against us. 12 in two games. Then we would have reason to complain.....