As Blackheath Addick couldn’t make the match he has subcontracted the task to me - Uttlesford Addick. Living in East Anglia myself now he felt I wouldn’t just fill the blog with unnecessary jokes about people from the more rustic parts of the country. In fact I was proudly saying to my sister as I set off for the match “Hey mum, isn’t it great I’m going to be on the Interweb”.
Visiting Norwich is like visiting a friendly aunt – it’s a fine place with friendly people and good beer. To make sure I didn’t get the wrong impression of rural folk they even had Morris dancers in the square. Presumably this was the warm up act before the bear bating and witch burning. Since I was here last however (Kinsella winning rocket with his left foot if I remember correctly), the aunt has had a major facelift, silicon injections – the lot. Instead of the old Coleman’s factory and the old munitions work we get Riverview Heights executive homes and instead of the worst boiled burger I ever tasted (1985) we get Delia’s delectable pies.
I thought it was going to be a tough one and so it proved. On a steamy day and with a new manager Norwich were always going to be up for it. An unlucky defeat to MK Dons on Monday only added to their ardour. There were a few changes to the line-up from the previous 7 matches … well OK it was only the mascots that were different. At the start Norwich were fast and direct, firing in crosses to Grant Holt from all directions. We looked OK until an almighty goalmouth scramble after 10 minutes with the ball somehow hacked to safety. On 10 minutes we started to get things together and after some Racon and Sam interplay Sam jinked to the byline and got in a low cross but the lead was soon to come. On 17 minutes Sam and Richardson combined dangerously and Sam’s cross was charged down for a corner. Shelvey took the corner and as the big men all failed to make contact there was Burton to score with a superb diving header from 12 yards.
After a bit more Norwich pressure Charlton took control. Sam was a thorn in their side during this spell and cut inside to shoot with his left foot. The keeper saw it late and made a good save but the best bit soon came. After a bout of Norwich crosses Charlton broke and the ball came to Sam who made it to the byline and crossed sweetly. Shelvey with the ball almost behind him managed to steer the ball to his left with his head. It was so sweetly placed that the keeper didn’t bother to move 2-0. The supporters were singing “we want seven” and we just had to see out the half when on 43 minutes Richardson put the ball safely into touch to wind down the clock. Unfortunately they were alert and a quick throw found Hoolahan who raced clear and despite a lunge from Llera scored at the near post.
The second half was frankly a frenzy of Norwich pressure after a quiet first 10 minutes. The midfield was being stretched or bypassed as Shelvey ran out of steam. Bailey who got involved in some shenanigans before the break looked frustrated and tired as the heat got to him and apart from a weak shot from Shelvey we didn’t show the guile to get through their ordinary looking defence. The crosses were pouring in and Elliot handled superbly or punched when he had to. He also pulled off a miraculous save with 10 minutes to go, the ball flying up from a volley. On 85 minutes McLeod (on for the tiring Shelvey) was put through on the left after some excellent work by Youga. Cutting in he shaped to curl a shot into the far corner but missed when he should have scored.
Despite the relentless pressure the defence looked composed and confident until the last minute when a deep cross came in from our right. Elliot saw the danger and went to punch with Dailly in attendance but the ball bounced off Holt’s head and bobbled slowly over the line. The Norwich supporters celebrated like they had won the game and in fairness with the amount of possession and chances they had they probably deserved their point. As for us a win would have been magnificent given the pressure but if we can get away points against the top teams (and Norwich will be one of them) and keep winning at home then there’s nothing to get upset about.
At this point I should probably comment on electoral reform or the French third division but frankly I know fuck all about them so here are my ratings.
Elliot 8/10 Good handling under pressure and two superb saves but should he have punched the ball away having made the decision to come for their equaliser ?
Richardson 8/10 Strong and did well against the excellent Hoolahan but should have been more alert to the throw-in that cost us the first goal
Youga 8/10 Looked calm and with Bailey out of sorts had a lot of work to do
Bailey 6/10 The fracas seemed to get to him and he was at walking pace by the end.
Llera 7/10 Some excellent last ditch tackles. He looked commanding at times
Dailly 7/10 Did his job well and even went charging up the field in the (vain) hope of a through ball in the first half
Semedo 8/10 Did what he does well and was often our calmest during the storms
Racon 7/10 Caught on the ball a couple of times but had his work cut out in the second half when the forward players tired and no easy outlet
Shelvey 8/10 Looked a different class before he tired. Took his goal well
Sam 9/10 Thrilling at times during the first half . Took the ball to the line or jinked inside and kept their defenders guessing.
Burton 9/10 An almost faultless game. Holding the ball well, bringing in other players, winning headers he had no right to win and a great goal.
Wagstaff 6/10 Came on for Sam but didn’t really help to ease the pressure when we needed him to
McLeod 6/10 A golden chance to seal the game but blew it.