Working just a stone’s throw from Norwich’s Carrow Road Ground this week I took the opportunity to grab a ticket to see a Championship game in which the high flying Canaries - Ha! See what I did there? - were playing against a struggling Crystal Palace outfit in what promised to be a good fixture for the home side. But any neutral - which I kinda suppose I was - would have found it difficult to believe that it was the men in yellow who were pushing for promotion while the South London side propped up the table.
From the off, Crystal Palace looked sharper, more inventive and cohesive and far more dangerous with the excellent Wilfred Zaha looking a real handful. This lad is surely destined for greater things on this showing.
Reading the report from the official Soccernet correspondent I can only surmise that he can’t surely have been at the same game as me if he thought that Palace only turned the game around in the second half. In terms of goals perhaps they did, but in terms of possession and chances Norwich were extremely lucky to go in at half-time leading 1-0. Frankly, they did not deserve it and justice was served by the South London‘s side spirited second-half fight back.
From the start, the home crowd soon sensed the way things might be going as the visitors made all the early running even though the Canaries almost took the lead after seven minutes, Simeone Jackson’s snap shot from wide left following a Wes Hoolahan pass, cannoning off the bar. It was Zaha who was tormenting the Norwich defence and his quick turns and determined runs were testing the home side at every opportunity, the flanks being pulled this way and that as Palace attacked. Garvan’s shot went agonisingly close following a Davids pass, while Dorman’s neat approach sent Zaha through - his shot flashing across the goal - before a last-ditch attempt by Norwich’s Andrew Crofts was the only thing stopping the Palace forward again as he shot for goal when clean through.
The only failure of the Palace forwards was the final pass in the last third of the field and, sadly, the worst culprit was former Dutch International Edgar Davids whose passing was woeful at times. I wonder if he is a luxury Palace can ill-afford? To be fair though, it was Davids that cleared off the line when Lappin looked certain to score, although it only delayed the first goal by a few minutes when Holt headed home from close range following work from Lappin, against the run of play in the 43rd minute.
Talk at half-time in the Delia Smith Lounge was of Norwich stretching their lead while Ipswich struggled away to Watford, but it was confidence ill-founded. Palace started where they left off and, when Davids was replaced by Kieran Djalili, within minutes Palace were level. A short corner confused the home defence allowing Bennett to head home from six yards after quick work by Zaha and Garvan. 56 minutes had been played and the game now swung firmly to the visitors
Palace grew in confidence, while Norwich stuttered as the home crowd grew restless. So it was no surprise when Norwich dropped behind seven minutes later as Garvan played a short corner for Antony Gardner to back-head home. It was no more than Palace deserved and I had to stifle a cheer as I was so pleased their enterprise had been rewarded. The visiting fans had been making most of the noise all match anyway but even the Norwich fans smiled as the South Londoners who, mindful of their recent abysmal run of form, had taunted the Canaries’ supporters earlier with “You’re so ****, we scored a goal” then started singing “You’re so ****, we scored again”
In-between the two goals, Norwich stopper John Ruddy reminded the fans - after all, the club still has pics of Rob Green on their posters for their club lottery - exactly who he is when he saved superbly from Dorman. Gardner’s winner though put paid to his efforts and, though they huffed and puffed and complained at decisions, Norwich looked a beaten side well before the end. In fact, their efforts to take the game to Palace only opened up further gaps at the back for Zaha to exploit as the yokel next to me said “We’re zecond best ’ere”
Indeed they were. As for Palace, surely if they play like this every week then they should get out of the bottom soon?
||Post your comment