Date:Friday March 24 2006
Well a few of us said if we managed to score first we could win and end this poor run of defeats and so it proved.
The Clarets team selection however did not feature our new signing, Alan Mahon who was on the bench. Steve Cotterill explained on Sky TV is was a decision he left to the last minute but felt it fair for team spirit not to drop somebody in the team he had already chosen before the late arrival of Mahon, who had made it just in time to meet Thursday's deadline.
Norwich also maybe surprisingly started 4-5-1 with Earnshaw relegated to the bench! Probably something a former Premiership player like Earnshaw would find difficult to accept. He did come on eventually after 36 minutes thanks to what seemed an hand or elbow injury to Drury, as Norwich reverted to 4-4-2 but quite frankly he never featured in this match
From the start of the match however, Norwich were attacking big time and they were unfortunate not to score on a number of occasions in the first 15 minutes. They had a clearance off the line by Harley and hit the woodwork via a defending header by our own Andy Gray. For once, it was the Clarets who had one attack and scored following sustained pressure and attack by the opposition!
Andy Gray scored a peach of a goal on 18 minutes after a cross by Branch. A crafty back heel completely foxed Green as he then turned and shot low into the corner of the net. His first goal for the Clarets on his home debut.
This seemed to raise the spirits of our lads and they battled well in the first half as their confidence grew and we begun to play a passing game with quality thus ditching the ineffective 'big hoof' prevalent in the first 15 minutes. McCann and Bardsley were particularly impressive and the danger man Huckerby never really looked a threat in the whole of the match.
We should have gone even further ahead in the first half
However thanks to a poor decision by the linesman, what seemed a perfectly good goal by Harley was flagged offside and the Sky replay clearly showed the goal should not have been disallowed. Chris Kamara even said so himself!
But the first half came to a close with the Clarets looking the better of the two teams and we had actually scored our first goal in 512 minutes of play!
The second half started in the same vein as the end of the first with the Clarets dominating and Norwich never seemed to regain their composure and could not put us under the pressure they put us under in the first 15 minutes or so of the first half!
We then sealed it really with a magnificent cross by Bardsley onto the head of Branchy who put it away in the 51st minute to end any hopes of a Norwich recovery.
Bardsley is looking very impressive and the accolades that he might eventually replace Gary Neville could well be true and on the cards based on this performance.
The Man of the Match for me was Chris McCann who with an 'old head on young shoulders' seemed to consistently make some nice touches and continually looked to influence the course of the game.
Finally after 63 minutes of play we finally got to see new boy, Alan Mahon who came on to replace Ricketts although we did not see much from him in the rest of the match. It is however early days!
Kyle Lafferty also made a brief appearance coming on for Branch after 87 minutes of play but by then the game was won and the Clarets could breathe a sigh of relief!
The match was quite entertaining to watch with only one yellow card for Norwich player Carl Robinson and apart from the disallowed goal the Ref seemed to have a decent game and let the match flow although on occasion did seem to adopt an 'homer' tendency in some of the decisions but who cares!
So there we have it. What a difference one match can make!
1. We score our first goal in over 8 plus hours and our home debutant starts his tally, Andy Gray
2. We are virtualy now assured of safety and can relax for the rest of the season [ I hope!]
3. We end any chance of Norwich realistically reaching the play off places which is some slight sweet revenge for that time they pushed us into 7th place by one goal!
4. I havent thrown anything at the Wife or kicked the PC!
Jensen, Bardsley, Duff, Sinclair, Harley, Elliott (Spicer 76), James O'Connor, McCann, Branch (Lafferty 88), Gray, Ricketts (Mahon 63).
Subs Not Used: Karbassiyoon, Garreth O'Connor.
Goals: Gray 18, Branch 51.
Green, Charlton (Safri 61), Shackell, Doherty, Fleming, Drury (Earnshaw 36), Johansson (Henderson 68), Hughes, Robinson, Huckerby, McKenzie.
Subs Not Used: Etuhu, Gallacher.
Ref: C Webster (Tyne & Wear).
Date:Friday March 24 2006
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