Swans Slain in Saturday Sizzler
BY TIM ALLMAN
Despite the rail replacement buses which meant a longer than normal rain trip via Cambridge to Norwich there was a healthy contingent of Capital Canaries waiting at Kings Cross at 10.00am on Saturday morning. As usual we had a varied bunch of travellers headed by Chairman Gav and including 96 year old Maurice and special overseas guest Dag Hoelseth who was visiting from Sweden for a week’s break and also to see the Canaries play.
It was an incident free journey to the Fine City and chatting to Dag on the train, the conversation inevitably turned to famous Swedes who have worn the canary yellow and green. Super Matty Svensson and not-so-super Ulf Ottosson were both discussed, and it wasn’t a difficult decision to work out who our favourite of the two was!
After an excellent lunch in good company we wandered down to Carrow Road for the game. It felt like the first game of the season, finally playing at Saturday 3pm, and even more so for me as I had not been able to get to the recent televised games due to my children’s sporting commitments.
The game started in the best possible way for City who scored in the first minute with a smart finish from Anthony Pilkington. He converted a knockdown from Steve Morison who easily beat the Swansea defenders in the air. Elliott Bennett provided the cross. Shortly afterwards City doubled the lead when our new found centre-back Russell Martin headed in a precision free kick from David Fox.
Swansea reduced the arrears almost immediately and it was a strange and scruffy goal. Scott Sinclair wriggled free from the attentions of Bennett and Naughton and appeared to go down very easily outside the penalty box but fell down inside it (I think this move is called a Walters) but somehow managed to cross the ball when lying on the floor. For those with long memories it was a little like Robert Fleck’s prone effort that equalised at Southend in 1997 and one of the few games in which Ulf Ottosson started. Danny Graham nipped in to score from close range.
City then had a couple of chances when Morrison forced an excellent save from the Swansea keeper and Pilkington hit the side netting but the visitors were having the lion’s share of possession. City defended with discipline and nous and despite not having much of the ball didn’t look like conceding a second. My only worry was that the ref, Mr Moss would be conned by a couple of theatrical moments from Dyer and Allen but he wasn’t falling for any of it. He was one of the better refs, kept the game flowing, was low-profile and contributed to a decent match.
Half time, City were leading 2-1 and I had a hot cup of coffee bought for me. Not bad for 3.45pm on Saturday afternoon.
City came out in the second half with more purpose, some words of tactical wisdom from Messrs Lambert and Culverhouse and saw off what little threat Swansea had with ease. Pilkington scored the third following another header won in the Swans penalty box, this time by Leon Barnett and Bradley Johnson, instead of shooting played an astute pass across the goal to set up the chance.
At 1-3 down I expected some more direct play and urgency from the visitors but they didn’t seem capable of playing any other way than pass pass pass and City held out with ease. On 80 minutes, we welcomed back Holty with a huge cheer and he forced the keeper into a fine save from a long shot and Wes just missed out on the rebound.
As regards Man of the Match, in their own separate ways all three of our front men had excellent games. Morison was a real handful for the Swansea defence, Pilkington with his two goals and wing play and Bennett through his pace and help in keeping the dangerous Scott Sinclair quiet had an effective but unassuming game.
I’d have given it to Pilkington for the two goals, but Dennis the referee who sits behind me thought Morison and he was right and no complaints from me about the decision. It’s great that we had a good few candidates to choose from.
And finally it’s amazing how other fans see the game. Walking out of the gents at Norwich station I heard a mad tirade of shouting from a disappointed Swansea fan complaining about how unlucky Swansea were, how bad City were, and how the Swans were “mugged” and should have won easily.
Yes Swansea passed it around nicely, but to little effect and City had much more tactical knowhow and quality at the business ends of the pitch and that’s what won us the game.