Comfortable win in first friendly
After a two month break from football the Canaries were back in action in their first pre-season match of the summer. City faced local side Gorleston at a wet Emerald Park, home to the Ridgeon`s Premier League new boys.
Paul Lambert promised to showcase many of his new signings alongside with the promotion winning side from last season. He brought a squad of 26 players to the east coast of Norfolk with Adam Drury and Anthony Pilkington watching from the side as they were rested following injuries.
Norwich started the match with a familiar side with Richie de Laet the only new signing to feature in the starting line-up. Declan Rudd was chosen to start between the goal posts with Francomb, de Laet, Whitbread and Tierney lining up in front of him in defence. Lambert decided to open with the diamond formation that has worked so well for the side in the last two seasons. The prolific attacking force of Chris Martin, Grant Holt and Wes Hoolahan who excelled in League 1 were reinforced by Fox, Smith and Adeyemi in midfield.
With the team likely to change at half time only four players were named on the bench in youngsters Josh Dawkin and Matt Ball alongside Simeon Jackson and Steve Morison.
Gorleston kicked off and pressed the Premier League team straight away, yet struggled to make any opportunities in front of goal. City started to take control of the game after the brief pressure from the Greens, trying to pull the defenders out of position before feeding the ball through to Chris Martin.
After a few half chances from the Yellows Grant Holt took the lead using his strength down the left hand side before lifting the ball over the keeper and into the far side of the net.
City didn`t take long to get a second as they quickly broke to win a corner on right, which was played short by Holt to Hoolahan who whipped the ball onto the head of Whitbread, easily guiding the ball into the net.
With the game fully in control by Norwich attention was turned to personal performances by the players. Francomb was getting forward on the right wing well, but his passing on the wet pitch wasn`t finding yellow shirts enough. Korey Smith had been the stand out player of the half so far, linking up well on the right and feeding good balls into the path of the strikers. While Chris Martin was getting into good positions, yet wasting chances that would have to be taken against the top teams of Man United and Chelsea when the season comes.
He sent a few chances straight to the goalkeeper, before hitting the side netting from a left footed shot as he cut inside the box from the right. His best chance came halfway through the half when good work from Hoolahan managed to find space and place a good cross into the box. Martin, who was unmarked, did not get full contact on his diving header putting the wide when he should have at least tested the keeper.
Norwich were starting to find lots of space behind Gorleston back line, with Fox`s superb passing finding free yellow shirts time and time again. This time Adeyemi was found down the right to be put through on goal, but took too long to decide whether to shoot and was forced out wide. The cut back that followed was placed just behind Chris Martin, who set off to chase the ball but was stopped by a wandering foot from the Gorleston centre back.
As Martin went down holding his ankle the referee pointed to the spot. Grant Holt, who looks set to continue his role of penalty taker after taking over from Hoolahan, coolly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner and sending the keeper the wrong way.
After 30 minutes of the match gone Lambert made his first change to the team replacing to the two strikers, Martin and Holt, with Jackson and Morison who came on for his City debut.
The changes did not stop City`s dominance and three minutes later the score line became 4-0. A cross from Fox on the right was headed away by the Greens` defence only to find Korey Smith on the edge of the box. The impressive Smith took a touch before curling the ball into the bottom corner of the net after a touch by the goalkeeper wasn`t enough to keep the shot out.
Norwich were using their added number in the middle of the park to effect, continuously switching position and making the Gorleston players work hard to deal with their movement. City again moved down to the right with Adeyemi who delivered a brilliant chipped cross onto the head of former Millwall forward Steve Morison.
His header across goal beat the Gorleston keeper before being tapped into an empty net by the head of Simeon Jackson, reminding fans of his prolific form that helped gain promotion towards the near end of the season.
The same tactic was used again just before the break but this time down the left wing. Marc Tierney ran down the left before delivering a deep cross, similar to Adeyemi`s, which met the head of Morison. The tall striker again showed his target man attributes knocking down the ball to the far post meeting the run of Jackson. Jackson was unlucky with the angle of his shot too tight and could only find the post before going out for a goal kick.
Changes were expected to be made for the second half and they were with Lambert replacing 9 players, leaving only Jackson and Morison on from the first half and reverting to a 4-4-2 formation; while Vaughan and Wilbraham were added to the bench. The line-up read as Ruddy, R.Martin, Ward, Barnett, Brindley, Bennett, Crofts, Johnson, Surman, Morison, Jackson. Gorleston also made changes of their own with a whole new team coming out at half time.
It took only a matter of minutes before the fans at a now dry Emerald Park were treated to another goal. New signing Bradley Johnson won the ball just inside the Gorleston half before muscling his way past two defenders and slotting the ball into the far side of the net.
The Gorleston players managed to deal against a 4-4-2 formation much easier than the diamond formation and were restricting the Canaries to going out wide, yet where defending from crosses much better this half. The only chances that City had come their way before the hour mark was two free kicks from just outside the Gorleston area. Surman and Bennett took shared both free kicks, but the outcome was the same with the ball finding itself over the stands and into the car park instead of the back of the net.
At the hour mark, Morison and Jackson were replaced by Wilbraham and Vaughan and were in action soon on. A low cross from Andrew Surman on the left was cleverly dummied by Crofts and into the oncoming Wilbraham who guided the ball into the bottom right corner to make the score a very convincing 7-0.
Wilbraham then managed to miss an easier chance with a one on one after good link up play with James Vaughan. Another guilt edge chance came for Wilbraham after inspiring play from Bennett and Vaughan respectively. Elliot Bennett showed his pace down the right wing to beat the full back before lifting a cross from the by-line towards the penalty spot. James Vaughan then attempted a bicycle kick but didn`t manage to get full connect, yet found Wilbraham who was hiding at the back post unmarked. The striker`s header found the goalkeeper`s grateful hands however when it was easier to score.
As time passed the players were noticeably getting tired after 2 months without football and Gorleston were threating to attack. At this point Lambert decided to bring on the youngster off the bench, Josh Dawkin replacing fellow youngster Richard Brindley to play an unfamiliar position of left back while Matt Ball replaced Andrew Crofts.
The only action to happen in the last 10 minutes was a few decent crosses from Dawkin, with one hitting the inside of the far post and being unlucky not to go in the net. Bradley Johnson then went close to a long range effort and showing that his goal against Arsenal last season in the F.A Cup wasn`t a one-off.
NORWICH CITY (first half): Rudd (GK), Francomb, Tierney, Whitbread, De Laet, Adeyemi, Fox, Hoolahan, K Smith, C. Martin (Jackson 30), Holt (Morrison 30).
NORWICH CITY (second-half): Ruddy, R. Martin, Brindley (Dawkin 71), Barnett, Ward, Johnson, Bennett, Jackson (Vaughan 61), Morison (Wilbraham 61), Crofts (Ball 86), Surman.
Goal Scorers: Holt - 6, 27 (pen), Whitbread - 12, Smith - 33, Jackson - 43, Johnson - 49, Wilbraham - 75
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