Saturday 3rd March.
Driving down to the match today, it was revealed on Radio Leeds
Leeds Leeds that Jamie Lawrence wouldn’t be signing on loan for
Town. Agreement had been reached between Lou Macari and Jim Jeffries
at Bradford, but whilst playing for Jamaica in an international
match Lawrence managed to break a wrist. It’s frightening to see
the lengths that some players will go to rather than sign for Town.
Anyway, after 3 straight defeats it was more important that the
11 selected for today’s game did the business and collected the
full 3 points against a Norwich side who have struggled this season,
but who have enjoyed an upturn in form recently to lift themselves
into mid table mediocrity.
Jon Dyson was restored to the side to replace Adie Moses in a
defence that saw Steve Jenkins return to left back with Thomas Heary
on the right and Craig Armstrong restored to midfield to partner
Kenny Irons. This was a lacklustre game between two poor sides,
but at least Town showed some grit with Craig Armstrong relishing
his return to the centre of the park. When you haven’t won a home
game since Boxing Day performances come second to results, and Town
showed their intentions from the kick-off with a muscular display
that Norwich didn’t seem able to combat, and we didn’t have to wait
too long to capitalise on the visitors’ lack of ambition.
Barely 7 minutes had past when Town won a throw-in midway into
the Norwich half on the right-hand side. Kevin Gallen received the
throw and after controlling on his chest Ben Thornley nipped in
to take the ball. After a couple of touches he passed to Craig Armstrong
who rifled the ball into the back of the net from around 25 yards
out. This was the second spectacular goal scored by the converted
midfield man in as many home games. He seems to be enjoying life
in the middle of the pitch, and the one time brunt of many fans’
displeasure is rapidly becoming a contender for player of the season.
Following the goal Town continued to dominate proceedings and
shortly after taking the lead Kevin Gallen raced through on goal
but once again his effort was weak and easily saved by Norwich keeper
Andy Marshall. Such was our dominance even Thomas Heary had a long
range shot but his 30 yard effort was easily saved, and Delroy Facey
should have done better with a header that drifted wide of the goal.
Norwich created nothing up front and their Little and Large combination
of Roberts and Russell rarely troubled a defence which looked more
solid with Jon Dyson at its heart.
After around 38 minutes a Kenny Irons corner caused consternation
in the visitors defence, but once again we failed to capitalise
and the half came to a close with Town’s supremacy such that I can’t
remember Norwich having a solitary effort on goal and Kenny Irons
back to his best orchestrating most of our best moves from midfield.
Despite the lack of threat from the opposition a one-goal lead never
feels sufficient, particularly this season, and it was to be hoped
that they could convert dominance into goals.
The second half began with Norwich looking a little more ambitious,
but still failing to create anything to test Vaesen and the Town
goal was never seriously threatened. The balance of play returned
to Town and we began to press forward through the probing of Irons
and the physical presence of Armstrong. Just before the hour mark
Simon Baldry replaced Ben Thornley in an attempt to provide more
service into the visitors’ penalty area. He looked a little ring
rusty after his injury lay-off, but gave the Norwich something else
to think about and the chances started coming with greater regularity,
Delroy Facey could have had a hat trick if he’d had his scoring
On 68 minutes Kevin Gallen received a through ball wide on the
left, and after cutting in past two Norwich defenders he teed the
ball up perfectly or the unmarked Facey who contrived to head wide
with only the keeper to beat. The young striker sank to his haunches
in the knowledge that he could have made the game more or less safe,
and then 2 minutes later he hit the side netting from Baldry’s powerful
cross. All was forgiven a minute later when he finally did hit the
back of the net.
Simon Baldry received the ball in midfield and immediately fed
the overlapping Kenny Irons who raced towards the Norwich penalty
area. I had never realised that Irons was capable of racing, but
race he did and from the edge of the area knocked an accurate ball
towards Facey who did the rest as he sweetly swept the ball home
from 8 yards out. Delight for Facey and delight for the crowd with
whom the lad from Stile Common is so popular.
Twenty minutes to go but the game was effectively over. Although
it was far from a spectacular performance it was highly efficient
and there seemed to be no chance of any capitulation this time.
This proved to be the case as the game was played out in comfort
until the last minute, when a goalbound header by Norwich substitute
Forbes was routinely saved by the under-employed Nico Vaesen.
Defeats for Tranmere, Grimsby, QPR and the now sinking fast Crystal
Palace have kept us in touch with the safety zone, although Sheffield
Wednesday managed another post-Jewell win to move themselves a little
further up the table. With the safety mark of around 50 - 53 points
still about 20 points away we have got to be looking for 6 – 7 more
wins and we must make the 6 remaining home games count - preferably
starting on Tuesday when we take on fellow strugglers Grimsby Town.
TOWN 2 (Armstrong 8, Facey 71)
Position in table – 23rd
Town – Vaesen; Jenkins; Lucketti; Dyson;
Heary; Smith; Irons; Armstrong; Gallen (Gorré 78); Facey;
Thornley (Baldry 59). Subs not used – Margetson; Gray; Moses.
Norwich City – Marshall; Sutch; Fleming;
Jackson; Nedergaard; Llewellyn; Mackay; Roberts; Russell;
McVeigh; Abbey (Forbes 45). Subs not used – Green; Dalglish;
Referee – John Brandwood (Lichfield).