Pride of Anglia - Ipswich Town Football Club

since 1878

Norwich City (0) 1 - 1 (0) Ipswich Town

Sky Bet Championship 2016-17

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands)

Manager: Alex Neil

Carrow Road 12:00

Attendance: 27107 (Town 2000)

Manager: Mick McCarthy

Match Number: 3697

Goals

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 Jacob Murphy (69)
Away
 Jonas Knudsen (63)

Substitutions

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Steven Naismith
Josh Murphy (76)
Wes Hoolahan
Alex Pritchard (79)

Cards

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Away
 Freddie Sears (59)
 Jordan Spence (87)

Teams

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John Ruddy

Ivo Pinto

Russell Martin

Timm Klose

Mitchell Dijks

Jonny Howson

Alexander Tettey

Jacob Murphy

Wes Hoolahan

Steven Naismith

Cameron Jerome

Substitutes

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Michael McGovern

Steven Whittaker

Yanic Wildschut

Kyle Lafferty

Alex Pritchard

Ryan Bennett

Josh Murphy

Match Report

Norwich and Ipswich cancel each other out as status anxiety looms

For much of this East Anglian derby the main subject of debate between opposing supporters was Ipswich Town’s recent history. Their 15 continuous years in the Championship is the longest current run of any club in any of the three Football League divisions and Norwich City fans gave it an ironic minute’s applause at the relevant point in the match. Ipswich fans responded with the following chant: “Fifteen years in the Championship, we’re still famous and you’re still [word that almost rhymes with Championship].”

It was a decent bout of ribaldry between two clubs that are more evenly matched than they like to think. Ipswich have the history, Sir Alf, Sir Bobby, the Uefa Cup and all that. Norwich have the more recent pedigree, spending four of the past six seasons in the Premier League (they have also not lost to Ipswich since 2009). But while no one can take Portman Road’s honours board away, however long ago it was last updated, the Carrow Road club is currently enduring a prolonged bout of status anxiety.

According to a recent survey that pulled together trophies won alongside average attendance, historic league position and, yes, social media following, Norwich City are the 22nd biggest club in Britain. That puts them outside the top flight but permanently on the verge of promotion. Come the end of the Old Farm derby, however, Norwich were in eighth place in the Championship table, six points behind the play-off positions. With five of the top six still to play, starting away at Sheffield Wednesday next weekend, the Canaries still have matters in their own hands – but only just. And if the play-offs are missed, a squad heavy on Premier League wages (if not necessarily talent) will almost certainly have to be gutted.

Alex Neil cut a composed figure after the match. The Scot, only 35 years old but possibly starting to feel older, has endured a hellish time of it this season after seeing his side go through a run from mid-October to the end of 2016 in which they took only eight points from 12 games. The Norwich board stuck with their manager, not a common move, and form has turned upwards since the new year. But familiar problems remain and surely cannot continue if the club are to achieve their objective.

“I thought we put a good performance in over the 90 minutes,” Neil said. “We created a lot of good opportunities. I thought we were wasteful at times with some of the chances that we did have and their goalkeeper pulled off three really good saves in the match as well. Ipswich had one shot on target and they scored the goal. But when you don’t take your opportunities then that sucker punch can come your way.”

Norwich are used to sucker punches this season. They conceded one goal in their defeat at relegation-threatened Burton Albion last weekend by giving the ball away carelessly by their own corner flag. Sunday’s goal was more regulation, a cross that was not cut out and a run that was not tracked allowing Jonas Knudsen to head home at the far post. Consistently defending crosses, a central part of Championship defensive work, is still something Norwich cannot do, seven months into the campaign.

Neil was right about the opportunities, though. Norwich had 13 shots with seven on target and earned 14 corners in the game. Ipswich’s goalkeeper, Bartosz Bialkowski, pulled off a stunning save to deny midfielder Alex Tettey and also did well to frustrate Alex Pritchard and Steven Naismith. His one weak moment led to the equaliser: youngster Jacob Murphy, who lost Knudsen for Ipswich’s goal, creating space and firing in at the near post, low and through the keeper’s body.

Norwich have scored the second highest number of goals in the Championship and Neil’s expressed philosophy – “We’ll score more than you” – may yet bear out. But doubts remain over their ability to score at crucial moments and the sight of Cameron Jerome, for all his hard work and intelligence, missing chance after chance as he did against Ipswich, is far too familiar for Canaries fans by now.

Hillsborough will be a crucial fixture. Norwich have won only four away games all season, Wednesday have lost four times at home. “Everybody’s looking at it as if we have to go into the play-offs next week, but the fact is there’s 12 games left,” Neil said. “Whether we get in just now or whether we get in in a few weeks’ time my only concern is that in 12 games’ time we’re in the play-offs. So, if it takes us till the last game to get in there, that’s when it’s important, not just now.”

Paul MacInnes (The Guardian)

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