The Tuckster reports on a very dull game at Carrow road against Newcastle…
With these two teams having lost the last seven games between them, something had to give. Either way someone would earn a point or three.
As it turned out it would be a draw that would stop the rot for both sides, although Newcastle will be happier with the result than Norwich.
Chris Hughton made just one change to his tried and tested League line up with Simeon Jackson replacing Harry Kane as the lone striker.
The good news for all, except the likes of Kane and Jackson was that Grant Holt was back and although not fit enough to start, he was on the bench.
Within seconds of the start, a lack of communication between Bassong and Bunn led to Seb leaving a long ball forward that Obertan latched onto without a challenge.
His cross was cut out by Bunn but it started a first twenty minutes of chaos for Bassong. He has been so good for us this season that it seemed incredible that he could be so indecisive in his actions.
Anyway, he got through that period and regained his composure for the rest of the match during which, neither he nor his defensive compatriots were really troubled.
Norwich played the brighter football and retained possession fairly comfortably. Some of the approach play was nice especially when City broke three on two in the first half.
Hoolahan played the ball out right to Jackson but the pass was over hit and Simeon had to stretch to get the ball. He played it back to Wes, who rather than hit it first time with his right foot, dawdled and tried to get it on his left – the ball was cleared.
It was however, one of those days when a number of players seemed to have an off day. Hoolahan, Tettey and Snodgrass were all guilty of regularly giving the ball away with sloppy passes.
The half time score was 0-0 and that was about right.
In the second half, Alan Pardew tried to open up his lack lustre team by bringing Cabaye on for the last thirty minutes.
Immediately, Newcastle were better in possession and slightly more of a threat, although Papiss Cisse was isolated for much of the game as the lone striker.
Russell Martin struck a post with a half volley from thirty yards but that was almost as good as it got.
Snodgrass surprisingly gave his worst performance in a City shirt as his set piece delivery, normally so good was poor, time and again.
Pilkington was much livelier and effective in possession but also fluffed his set piece deliveries – it must`ve been contagious.
Pilks had a great chance after the arrival of Holt for the ineffective Jackson with twenty minutes to go.
Holt flicked the ball onto Snodgrass, who found Pilkington with a right footed cross. Pilks cut inside his man onto his right foot in the area and seemed certain to score. Krul made a terrific save and Johnson blasted the rebound high and handsome.
Homesick Coloccini had not been troubled by Jackson but seemed immediately ruffled by Holt who set about the Toon back four, held the ball up well and won several flicks. In the last minute, he headed a Bennett cross back across goal that the onrushing Pilkington could only head over the bar.
The score was 0-0 and neither team deserved to win it.
It was a dire game that Norwich could`ve edged had they shown a bit more composure in a couple of chances.
The good news is that Grant Holt is on the comeback trail. Hughton confirmed afterwards that the skipper wasn`t fit enough to start as they don`t want to risk a set back.
Assuming he doesn`t have a reaction and gets a good week of training under his belt he should be back for the trip to Anfield.
His absence has been more than notable in the Christmas period and whether we get a new striker or not – he is a massively important player for us.
Some might look at this as two points dropped against a mostly poor Newcastle side and it probably was, but it was also important that we didn`t lose it.
I can see why the magpies are struggling and with the loss of Demba Ba, either Cisse needs to find his mojo again or they need reinforcements.
We now have two tough games in the league against Liverpool and Tottenham on the horizon – both will be stern tests but this draw has got us another point and you have to keep positive.
Will we have another striker soon? I hope so.