It was a funny old night… it always is a bit when the old place isn’t full.
I guess we’re just spoilt given that nine times out ten Carrow Road is bulging at the seams. And to think… a half-full stadium is the norm for some.
What made it even more unusual was:
A. The starting line-up showed eleven changes from Saturday… Yet still had the look of a first-team.
B. We safely progressed through to the third round of a cup competition…
And C. Simon Lappin scored a goal. And a good one at that.
Yes, we did make fairly heavy weather of it, and yes – some of those in the starting XI will not figure regularly this season, but it’s a fair measure of how far we’ve come that we can field such a decent-looking side in these circumstances.
Cast your mind back just two seasons and there’s no way we could have done the same without seriously compromising the overall quality.
I actually felt a tad sorry for those in the starting line-up – I’m soft like that. Forgive the horrible cliché, but they really were on the original hiding to nothing, with even a thumping victory unlikely to be enough to satisfy some of the Faithful.
And so it proved. Once Lappin’s 32nd minute screamer (never expected to be writing that…) had been cancelled out by Mark Duffy’s even better left-foot strike two minutes later, the Main Stand regulars started shifting uncomfortably in their seats.
I’m not suggesting the said fidgeting was restricted just to the Geoffrey Watling stand, but as me and the lad had decided to sample a touch of ‘luxury’ for the evening that’s all I can comment on.
Even Wes Hoolahan’s expertly-taken 55th minute penalty did little to appease the natives who, it seems, assumed the floodgates would then fly open.
In fairness to Scunthorpe this was never likely to happen and, as predicted by Chris Hughton in his pre-match Press conference, they came and had a real go. Had it not been for Declan Rudd’s fine reaction to David Prutton’s stunning 77th minute volley they could well have forced extra-time – although this would have been harsh on City, whose passing looked more assured as the game progressed.
In the closing stages – in true Norwich fashion – we did have to endure a few nervous moments. A couple of dangerous crosses flashed across the face of Rudd’s goal, but no late disasters this time and relief all round, thank goodness.
I’d have hated for my lad to witness the ‘Wrath of the Watling’, given the venom directed at a couple of those in yellow during the game.
All a bit harsh, in my opinion, although it has to be said the insults hurled from ‘Main Stand massif’ are far more eloquent than those I’m used to hearing in the River End – always grammatically correct and delivered with the correction intonation. My old high school English teacher would have approved… Sort of.
There’s no doubting that City look a better side when they get the ball down and pop it around – as opposed to lumping it long into the channels as happened far too often in the first-half.
There were several periods in the second-half when possession was comfortably retained by keeping the passes short, precise and slick. When that happened we looked a good side – no doubt about it. Even Alan Hansen would have found it hard to disagree, although it would have undoubtedly come with the caveat that ‘Swansea can do it better…’
The flip side to this was evident a bit too often, particularly early on, when Messrs Bennett and Turner took the easy option of banging it long to the front two, rather than bring the full-backs or the midfield into play.
Whether this was part of the game plan or was just how it panned out is not clear, but I know which brand of football is more pleasing on the eye.
As we all know, the be all and end all of cup competition is to get yourself in the hat for the next round – and this was achieved without risking injury to the likely starting XI at White Hart Lane. Very much of a case of ‘Job done!’ I’d say.
If my vantage point amongst the Carrow Road elite did one thing, it permitted me a close-up of the Steve Morison incident, towards the end of game – at least it was an ‘incident’, if you believe some of our old friends on the message-boards and social media.
In fact what happened, as I saw it, was Morison appeared to pull something when he shanked an attempted cross-field pass. He tried to run it off, didn’t succeed and eventually signalled to Hughton that he needed to be replaced.
Rather than soldier on and risk more damage, on the advice of the medical staff, he went down allowing for his injury to be assessed. Nothing more, nothing less.
When he was finally replaced by Simeon Jackson he went straight down the tunnel, accompanied by a physio to presumably have it further assessed, in the normal way.
That some of our flock chose to make this appear something it wasn’t probably just says more about which side of the Morison fence they sit – and less to do with reality.