Bale’s latest wonder strike cannot detract from a vastly improved City performance and a big, big point. Norwich also had a spine this evening…Wed 30 Jan 13 by Rick Waghorn
Chris Hughton’s Canaries tonight finally found something of their old selves tonight as the City ship was steadied courtesy of a 1-1 home draw with Spurs.
After the 5-0 mauling at Anfield in their last Premier League outing and Saturday’s FA Cup Fourth Round humiliation against non-league Luton, any result against the visiting Champions League hopefuls would have been welcomed by both supporters and manager alike.
And while the Canaries failed to wholly capitalise on Wes Hoolahan’s 32nd minute opener in terms of prising all three points off the Londoners, they did at least only succumb to yet another wonder goal from Spurs hero Gareth Bale who ran half the length of the field before despatching a glorious leveller beyond keeper Mark Bunn.
Bale is a world class player – as he consistently proves against the Norfolk side.
If, in the colder light of day, he proves to be the only difference between the two teams, then City supporters should take heart; there’s no disgrace in ending all square with Bale & Co.
More importantly, both the result and the level of Norwich’s first-half performance should deliver the kind of boost confidence-wise that was so urgently required after a pretty wretched festive and New Year period.
And such points could yet prove all the difference come the end of the season. Norwich remain seven points clear of the drop zone and just three points shy of the top half of the table.
There are at least half a dozen clubs in that league whose current form and fortune would be more alarming than that of Hughton & Co.
And City could also be on the verge of boosting their ranks with a fresh striker in the shape of 19-goal Leeds marksman Luciano Becchio, who tonight was reported to be in talks with the Canaries – with Steve Morison likewise reported to be heading in the opposite direction.
It is becoming a well-worn path – should anything materialise Becchio-wise, he would follow Messrs Johnson, Howson and Snodgrass beating a path north. Morison, in turn, would follow in the footsteps of Adam Drury in making the switch north.
Either way, tomorrow’s final day of the January transfer window looks all set to be a lively affair.
In the meantime, it is no surprise that City’s vastly-improved performance tonight coincided with the Canary chief being able to call upon his first-choice XI – with all bar keeper John Ruddy being present and correct.
Sebastien Bassong was reunited with Michael Turner in the heart of that rearguard; Bradley Johnson paired up with Alexander Tettey in midfield and skipper Grant Holt once again had his little Irish pal for company up front.
Throw in Anthony Pilkington to one side and Robert Snodgrass to the other and Hughton was back to the tried and tested formula of the autumn. City had a spine, in short.
It was Pilkington who teed up Hoolahan’s first-half opener as Norwich started by far the brighter with keeper Hugo Lloris forced to save from first Snodgrass and then Holt as the Canaries did their level best to erase events of the weekend from the collective memory.
After the break, however, and the balance of power shifted as Spurs – inspired by Welsh international Bale – began to click into gear.
Substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson forced Bunn into action some two minutes before the end of normal time as the Canary faithful feared a late heart-breaker. In the event, however, none came.
Maybe, the winter wobbles were finally over…