City saddled with a goal-less draw
left Carrow Road with a hard-earned point, but referee Russell Booth played
a key role in the result when he disallowed Michael Nelson's second-half 'goal'
and failed to award a penalty when City substitute, Cody McDonald was the
victim of a blatant foul.
Paul Lambert made comprehensive changes to Tuesday night’s side that
beat Brentford in The Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, with just Simon
Lappin, Michael Nelson, Jens Berthel Askou and Stephen Hughes keeping their
places. By restoring Fraser Forster, Jon Ostemobor, Korey Smith, Paul
McVeigh, Jamie Cureton, Grant Holt and Adam Drury, the City boss
fielded exactly the same side that started last Saturday at Hartlepool.
Only one of those changes was forced on him, with goalkeeper Ben
Alnwick returning to Tottenham, having suffered a hip injury in
the midweek trophy win.
For Walsall, Irish keeper Rene Gilmartin replaced the experienced
Clayton Ince, who together with Mark Bradley was on
International duty with Trinidad & Tobago.
Despite it being the fourth game in a row that Walsall have failed to
score, Walsall manager Chris Hutchings said “I was delighted with
the performance and it was a big team effort from us. But I still expect
them (Norwich) to be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.”
Lambert wasn’t too disheartened, saying: “If it’s not your day, the
important thing is not to lose. Given the start to the season to take
seven out of last nine points is something you would settle for.”
Norwich kicked off towards a very vocal Barclay End and within two
minutes, they had won a corner after Clayton McDonald had carelessly
cleared the ball when under no pressure. Paul McVeigh’s first flag-
kick was cleared for another, from which Berthel Askou headed wide.
Manny Smith leaned into Grant Holt, giving City a free kick just
inside the left touchline. Lappin whipped it in and although
initially cleared, McVeigh hit an instinctive left foot volley just over the
The Saddlers made their first real impact into the game in the 12th
minute, when first Darren Byfield’s shot across the face of the goal
went out for a throw in on the opposite side in front of the City
stand. Then again with Troy Deeney, whose deflected shot went out for
their first corner of the game.
In the 17th minute referee Russell Booth incurred the wrath of the
Barclay when he ignored what appeared to be a blatant obstruction on
McVeigh. Walsall then immediately looked to break again, but it was
broken up and City came back to win their third corner as Lappin’s
cross hit Darryl Westlake.
After a break in play for Drury who had gone down after an earlier heavy
challenge, Walsall caused a few hearts to flutter as Byfield from the
edge of the Norwich area attempted to chip Forster, but fortunately
for the on-loan keeper, it landed on the roof of the net.
Korey Smith’s 25th minute left wing run was abruptly halted as Richard
Taundry shoved him off the ball, which earned him a talking to from
In the next minute Forster had to be alert to deny the lively
Byfield, sliding out to claim the ball from just in front of the Saddlers’
With the home crowd starting to get restless, the City players
responded with more urgency and the move ended with Lappin’s left
wing cross that, although it was too close to Gilmartin in the visitors'
goal, showed much more attacking intent than the previous ten minutes!
However, the Reds went back on the offensive and from a right wing
cross by Dwayne Mattis, Byfield should have done better than to put his
free header over the bar.
The Canaries did at last get a shot at goal in the 40th minute.
Lappin returned Drury’s throw in to him on the left and the left-back’s
cross was headed down by Holt to Cureton, but he put it wide of the
There was an even longer stoppage in play with Drury again, needing
treatment when he came off worse after winning a header
in the visitors' penalty area.
Well into the two minutes of added time McVeigh picked up the loose
ball in the middle of the Walsall half and although he kept his
shot down this time, it went wide of the post.
HALF-TIME: City 0 Walsall 0
Norwich began the half strongly and Ostemobor, for the first time in
the game, showed a burst of speed down the right wing. He fed the
over-lapping Cureton whose cross into the middle was just behind Holt. In
the next minute Ostemobor took a free kick from just inside his own
half and Holt rose to head the ball goalwards but it lacked any power
to beat Gilmartin.
However, it was Walsall with the first real chance of the second
half. Byfield got in behind the Canaries’ defence but fortunately for them
his shot went past the far post.
Both sides then struggled to get an attack going and although
Lappin was handed a chance from Holt’s knock down, he had
to use his right foot and fired inches the wrong side of the post.
City did win a corner in the 60th minute, but McVeigh
didn’t get the ball past the first man. Walsall struggled to clear;
however and McVeigh got another chance from the corner flag and
got a cross over the first man but still Walsall cleared.
It was so close to third time lucky when in the 63rd minute Nelson
put a bullet header into the net from another corner, but to the
amazement of the defender as he wheeled away to celebrate, the referee
disallowed the goal!
In the 65th minute Lambert made a double substitution, bringing on
Cody McDonald and Luke Daley, in place of Cureton and McVeigh,
neither of whom could be faulted for effort.
The referee didn’t see anything wrong with the shirt pulling
on McDonald, who did well to keep his feet in the Walsall
area, but his shot was blocked and there was no yellow shirt on hand
to pounce on the loose ball.
Walsall immediately counter attacked and this time, although Byfield
got in behind the City back line, Forster palmed his shot out and
Berthel Askou cleared the danger.
In the 78th minute ex-Ipswich player, Sam Parkin came on for
Clear-cut chances had by now got fewer and fewer with the ball
spending more time in the air. Hughes, who had had a tidy game
brought the ball down on his chest in the 83rd minute and strode forward one
step, before firing his shot wide.
The Saddlers’ boss had one more throw of the dice with three minutes
of normal time remaining, replacing Byfield with Alex Nicholls.
As the fourth official held up the board showing 3 minutes of added
time City won a Corner. It was probably the best delivered of the
whole game and would have needed the faintest of touches as it crossed
the six-yard area, but it wasn’t to be and the game ended goal-less.
FULL TIME: City 0 Walsall 0
Forster (GK), Ostemobor, Drury, Nelson, Hughes, Holt ©, Cureton
(McDonald 65), McVeigh (Daley 65), Lappin, Smith (Russell 74),
Unused Subs: Rudd (GK), Spillane, Martin, Adeyemi.
Gilmartin (GK), Smith, Mattis, Deeney (Parkin 76), Taundry,
Till, Vincent, Richards, Byfield (Nicholls 86), McDonald.
Unused Subs: Cooney (GK), Weston, Sansara, Jones, O’Keefe
Norwich - None
Walsall - None
Attendance: 23, 041
Referee: Russell Booth