No Goals, No Points, No Luck.
CHRIS HUGHTON’S return to Newcastle didn’t go exactly as he would have liked. His Norwich side were made to pay for missed chances yet again, with Demba Ba’s first-half strike proving the winner.
After last weekend’s lacklustre 0-0 stalemate with West Ham United, Hughton made two changes in the hope of finding a goalscoring formula. John Ruddy began in goal behind a back four of Javier Garrido, Leon Barnett, Sebastien Bassong and captain, Russell Martin. In midfield City had Jonny Howson, Andrew Surman, Robert Snodgrass, Bradley Johnson and Wes Hoolahan – who played in just behind Steve Morison.
The Canaries started well as they set up camp in the Newcastle half. Early pressure resulted in Wes Hoolahan heading Javier Garrido’s cross at goal, it took a deflection and bobbled just wide with Harper beaten. From the resulting corner City were dealt a bit of a blow with Bassong going down injured. After some treatment, the former Newcastle man had to be substituted with Michael Turner replacing him.
Despite that early setback they weren’t to be deterred as Garrido forced a corner. Harper had to be prompt from the resulting ball in, punching away under close attention from Leon Barnett.
Against the run of play with 19 minutes gone, the hosts took the lead. Ben Arfa pinged a curling ball down the middle, Ba zipped onto it and drove at goal before sliding through Ruddy’s legs.
Norwich fought back as Snodgrass went close with his head. He would have drawn City level but for Williamson who cleared off the line.
The game wasn’t offering very much in terms of chances, with the contest fizzling out somewhat as the interval drew closer. On the stroke of half-time Newcastle were awarded a penalty. Morison and Williamson challenged for a long ball, Williamson took a tumble in what appeared a very innocent contest – though Neil Swarbrick pointed to the spot.
Despite the bewildered and understandably aggressive City appeals, Cisse put the ball on the spot.
Though justice was well and truly done when the frontman blazed well over the crossbar!
Arguably Norwich deserved to be level at the break, they’d created enough and looked the more likely for long periods. Though those missed chances had proved costly thanks to Ba’s strike.
Early in the second period the Canaries had a truly golden chance to level.
Surman was sent through one-on-one after the ball broke nicely for him. He didn’t quite have the legs to get in full control of the ball and had to poke at the onrushing Harper. The veteran stopper blocked the effort before the hosts cleared to safety. It was a massive chance for City, one they probably should have taken.
Snodgrass saw his effort deflected wide as City looked to grab an equaliser. They had to make one of these count!
Instead Norwich were in debt to Ruddy for keeping the deficit at one. Ben Arfa charged forwards before thumping a rasping drive at goal; the big keeper scampered across and beat the ball out. It was a fine save.
With around 20 minutes left Grant Holt replaced Morison as City searched for an elusive equaliser before Jackson was also introduced for Surman.
Though rather than City threaten, the hosts could have wrapped things up. They broke after a Norwich attack fizzled out, it came to Ba though he scuffed his effort at goal under excellent pressure from Barnett.
Jackson had a half chance to level as Harper blocked his effort from a tight angle, before Obertan forced a stop from Ruddy as the game drew to a close.
It wasn’t to be for City. Newcastle 1-0 Norwich.
Frustration once again is the word on the lips of those in yellow and green. It’s now 2 games without a goal and one doesn’t exactly look as if it’s imminent. Whether they need a little more luck? A better final ball? It’s unclear. But it’s a little worrying that these chances and performances are not being converted into points.
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