A 60th minute goal from the most unlikely of sources – Adam Drury – decided tonight's final pre-season game of the summer as the Canaries beat Vitesse Arnhem 1-0.
While never quite hitting either the entertainment or atmosphere heights of Tuesday night's 2-1 defeat by West Ham United, there was just about enough to keep a 7,000-strong crowd amused – a 56-minute run-out for Julien Brellier for one; a peach of a Drury strike for another.
The Frenchman, largely sidelined till now by a slight thigh strain, went about his business with a calm efficiency. The real Julien Brellier is likely to emerge once the boots start flying at Deepdale.
David Marshall added to his list of summer wonder saves with superb, one-hander onto his right upright following a 77th minute Vitesse corner. Takes that kind of form and fortune into the new season and City could be so many points better off from the start.
If tonight's game – played in front of one of those hockey international-style crowds – was all about going through the lines one last time before next weekend's trip to Preston North End then there was some interesting pointers to be had. Not least that City could head into battle in a 4-3-3 formation.
For that's what Brellier's first appearance allowed – that and the return of Simon Lappin to fitness. A tight, combative midfield three of Darel Russell, Brellier and Lappin that gave a platform for Messrs Cureton, Brown and Martin to strut their stuff. A formation that, in the fullness of time, would also accomodate Darren Huckerby's wandering tendencies.
It also suggested that Brown's second-half efforts – and goal – might have given Grant real cause for thought as David Strihavka sat alongside the likes of Luke Chadwick and Lee Croft on the bench.
Brellier's reputation went slightly before him in the first minute as the Frenchman conceded the game's first foul for reaching out for the ball with a big boot – at head height.
Otherwise, it was a quiet, studious opening spell from the Frenchman in which Martin's natural movement in that slightly deeper role stood out the more. The youngster would catch the eye again with a 25-yard effort in the 17th minute that bounced just wide of Balazs Raboczki's right upright.
It was, however, Vitesse that prompted the first real save of the night – David Marshall pushing the ball away for corner following a dipping, fourth minute thump from Jasar Takak.
Brellier, growing into the game, fired a little high and wide in the 20th minute; move of the match, however, belonged to a over-lapping switch between Cureton and Jon Otsemobor that ended with the latter – hard on the far by-line – driving a low cross straight through the Vitesse six-yard box.The power that he switched on to get there boded well.
Brown did himself no harm either by conjuring up a smart back header that forced the Vitesse keeper to hurriedly back-heel and tip over just before the half-hour mark. Marshall continued to do little wrong when he saved a second Tarak effort low to his left a minute later. He'd deny Anduele Prijor with a one-hander low to his right just before the interval.
And that, in fairness, was largely it. Expectations of an eager, but low-key evening out were being met.
Further evidence that Grant was bedding something near a starting team down came with the break – in that they all, to a man, reappeared. Brellier would get at least 60 minutes in the tank – 56 to be precise.
The game stirred into brighter life when Russell dug out an excellent through ball for Cureton to chase; two defenders in two, the City striker managed to shrug off the attentions of both before drilling a low cross in Brown's direction that prompted a hasty, sliding clearance to clear.
In amidst the subsequent City pressure, Brown took one flush in the face from an advancing Arnhem keeper and was last seen heading off down the tunnel with what looked like a broken nose for his night's troubles.
On came Strihavka and within a minute was setting up Norwich's opening goal of the night. Or rather his cross angled back through the Vitesse box to find an unmarked Drury. Thereafter, however, it was all the City full-back's own work as he sent a Huckerby-esque curler away and beyond the keeper from some 18-yards distant.
TV replays might suggest a helpful deflection en route, but given Drury's strike rate it might be a little harsh to pin an 'og' next to his 60th minute goal. It was something to tell his grandkids about – the night he put one in the top corner at Carrow Road.
Norwich City (4-3-3): Marshall; Otsemobor, Drury, Shackell, Doherty; Brellier (Fotheringham, 56 mins), Russell (Hughes, 76 mins), Lappin (Rossi Jarvis, 90 mins); Martin (Ryan Jarvis, 80 mins), Brown (Strihavka, 58 mins), Cureton (Croft, 61 mins). Subs (not used): Gallacher, Smart, Chadwick.