The Tuckster with his match report after the demolition of West Brom…
City’s penultimate match of the season saw No:1 ‘Keeper John Ruddy restored to the starting line up.
Ahead of him it was a familiar line up in the formation that CH favours most often, 4-5-1 with Holt as the loan striker supported by Wes Hoolahan.
Everyone knew how high the stakes were – win and we’d be safe. To lose would be unthinkable.
Right from the first whistle, the City players were up for it and they pressed WBA back throughout.
The first real test for Ben Foster came when Pilkington twisted and turned in the box before stinging the keeper’s hands with a fierce left foot drive.
City’s passing football was something to behold as Howson and Johnson bossed the centre of the field.
Snodgrass and Pilkington were willing runners on the flanks, although it was interesting to note before Norwich scored that CH and Pilkington had a difference of opinion (to say the least) – both men walked away shaking their heads.
The first goal came when Holt swung a cross in from the right channel. The ball was nodded down by Ryan Bennett and Hoolahan hit his shot at goal.
It was blocked by Foster but fell to Snodgrass who took a touch before firing his shot high into the roof of the net.
It was a just reward for City and the release of tension around the ground was obvious. But as we know, one goal is rarely enough and it was Hoolahan who nearly scored next.
Picking up the ball 30 yards from goal, he had a look around, moved forward a yard or so before hitting a shot that was just tipped over the bar by Foster at full stretch.
At half time, the score was still one nil and tension built again as the home fans knew that we needed that all important second goal.
Steve Clarke had seen enough in the first half to know that he needed to change things and he made two subs at the break.
It was enough to promote a slight response from the visitors but Ruddy still didn’t have anything serious to do.
It was the City keeper’s England rival in the opposite goal that gave us a helping hand.
With Holt chasing a Hoolahan through ball with Olsson, Foster came charging out and tried to clear the ball on the edge of the box.
He mis-kicked horribly and the ball went only a yard to his right and straight to Holt who ran the ball into an empty net to get that second goal.
Carrow Road errupted and it was a collective weight off of shoulders. This would be our day.
Just three minutes later on 65 minutes, a Snodgrass free kick was headed into his own goal by our mate, Gareth McAuley – that was his third own goal for three different clubs in our favour (Leicester, Ipswich and now WBA).
City continued to pile the pressure on as West Brom offered virtually nothing. On the odd occasion they did get forward they were snuffed out and crosses went over or out too often for the Baggies fans liking.
At the end, we finally saw something of Becchio who replaced Holt,who had a standing ovation as he left the field.
Becchio nodded down to Howson on the left. Howson played a one two with his ex-Leeds colleague as he ran along the edge of the box.
Johnny H, so often criticised by fans (and me) then curled a beautiful right foot shot into the far corner past the diving Foster. His first goal of the season was also most likely City’s goal of the season!
And that’s how it finished. FOUR nil. Incredible really. Was this really the same team that had struggled so much to put the ball in the net this season?
The football was bright, pacey and a joy to watch. Probably our best most complete performance of the season.
Were WBA already on the beach? Maybe, but who cares. Even if they had been at their best, they would’ve struggled to deal with Norwich on this form.
This was the same formation and set of players that had struggled so often. Johnny H talked about playing with freedom. Maybe CH finally took the shackles off them, maybe they finally clicked with his system. Whatever the reason, it was terrific.
And as a result, we are safe again for a second time as we look forward to our third season in the Premier League and the huge increase in cash flow that will mean.
Such is the closeness between the bottom ten teams in the league that this victory takes us up to 12th! If we’d been able to score more freely then I’ve no doubt we could’ve been safe long ago.
From his home in Portugal, Ricky Van Wolfswinkel tweeted that he was watching and posted his support during the match.
I bet he’s as relieved as we are that he will be playing Premier League football next season.
And make no mistake RVW is an exciting prospect for the Canaries.
Ah, Mr Van Wolfswinkel – We’ve been expecting you…