Monday, December 12, 2011

Gosling's early bath helps Canaries triumph

Norwich City 4 - 2 Newcastle Utd

A Newcastle side shorn of centre-halves was made to suffer as Delia's Canaries ruled the sky on Saturday. Goals from Grant Holt (x2), Wes Hoolahan and Steve Morison left us with too great an obstacle to overcome, despite Demba Ba's best efforts. That Dan Gosling endured something of a horror show in midfield, culminating in his sending off, only compounded our woes.

With Sideshow Bob, Saylor and Mike Williamson all unavailable, the Silver Fox was left with no choice but to reshuffle our back line, opting to partner James Perch with Danny Simpson in the centre, bringing Davide Santon in at left-back and switching Raylor to the right. Unfortunately, our back line of full-backs always looked a little on the short side, and shorn of the physicality of both Sideshow Bob and Saylor the chances of us keeping a clean sheet looked slim.

Further forward we welcomed back Spidermag from his one-game ban, the Argentine taking the captain's armband in his countryman's absence, and with Danny Guthrie now sidelined for six weeks, Gosling was handed a rare start in the centre. Up front, HBA's poor show last week saw him kept on the bench with Big Lad preferred to Leon O'Best to partner Ba.

It was the home side who broke the deadlock first, with Tim Krul catching a ball and the linesman bizarrely ruling that he'd carried it out for a corner. That the Dutchman's feet and hands didn't move backwards meant that either it should have been a goal kick or else play should have carried on. However, the official saw it differently, and we failed to deal with the resulting corner, allowing Hoolahan to force the ball home as it pinged around our box.

Thankfully, we managed to claw back the deficit before half-time with Dreamboat chipping the ball beautifully over the Norwich backline and picking out the onrushing Ba, who controlled the ball brilliantly with his first touch before slotting home with his second.

The second half, however, saw Norwich continue to capitalise on our aerial weakness with both Holt and Morison scoring headers - the latter after Gosling had contrived to lay the ball beautifully out to the winger on the Norwich right for him to float a cross on the head of the man Gosling should, I think, have been marking.

Gosling, already booked, then managed to pick up a straight red card after he left his foot in a tackle with Russell Martin. While hardly the worst foul you'll see all year, given that he was already on a booking, the chances of him getting away with it looked remote and he duly received his marching orders.

That we got back into the game at all from there was testament to Ba, who latched on to Big Lad's fine pass after he'd done well to win the ball near the half-way line. His ball fed Ba who slotted the ball home to give us a fighting chance.

Unfortunately, the fight was then knocked out of us by Holt, who rose highest to power another header home and secure another home win for the Canaries.

Hopefully, at least one, if not both, of Williamson and Sideshow Bob might be available for Swansea's visit to St James' Park on Saturday. If not, we could be in for another torrid afternoon.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian

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