Every so often one comes along that defies description.
That City somehow won the game with two goals in injury time made it a unforgettable in its own right, but there felt something special in the air from the moment the day’s community heroes were introduced to the crowd.
Pip and Alan Harrison are brothers, war veterans and have a combined age of 200 – who better to bring out the match ball – and the ovation afforded to them by City and Millwall fans alike was spine tingling.
So too the two-minute silence that was beautifully observed and broken only by the most perfect but haunting rendition of the Last Post by a lone bugler.
And that was all before a ball had been even kicked.
The Millwall fans undoubtedly added to the occasion and were as raucous and brutal as ever, but I hate to break it to them… they’re not as loathed and hated as they like to believe. In fact, aside from the few idiots that most clubs have in their ranks, they’re quite likeable. Proper football fans who, for the most part, we respect.
And all talk of their team coming to park the bus was quickly dispelled early on with a fairly enterprising first-half performance, with – despite Tom Elliot’s aerial threat being the main focal point – the ball being worked through the thirds for spells.
It was tough going for City and took the Millwall goal – one that wasn’t defended especially brilliantly – to fire them into life. As ever, it was getting Mo Leitner on the ball with time and space that was the key and as his influence grew, so too did the Canaries’ grip on the game.
Neil Harris’ homework paid off though to a degree and one thing absent from City’s attacking forays in the first half was getting the overload down the left side with Jamal Lewis going outside Onel Hernandez. It simply didn’t happen, although Max Aarons – possibly as a result – was the out ball and saw loads of it, without being able to find a clinical final ball.
But minutes 1 to 45, as we know, are just about biding our time and moving our opponents about the pitch. The goals can wait. At home, the River End will just have to take it on the chin.
And sure enough, just four minutes after the break the goal came. Marco Stiepermann was released in the inside left channel and found the perfect ball to pick out Teemu Pukki’s clever movement across the defender at the front post. The finish was unerring and of a player who is in a rich vein of form.
The penalty miss was gut-wrenching at the time but is what it is. It’s becoming a problem albeit one that for now is not costing us.
Yet, when Mo’s wonderfully clean, swerving strike made it 2-1, for all the world it looked as if the breakthrough would be decisive. For two whole minutes, the Barclay sang of being “top of the league” – one that *nearly* came back to bite them on the bum.
But all it actually did was trigger 16 minutes of mayhem. The type of drama Hollywood producers would scoff at for being too far-fetched.
Lewis, having had a relatively muted first-half, was unfortunately complicit in the Millwall equaliser when his inadvertent header found Timm Klose and Christoph Zimmermann for once too far apart. Ryan Leonard pounced. Tim Krul growled. Lewis’ ears were ringing.
But the shoe (or boot) was on the other foot just two minutes later when Krul’s unusually hurried throw – a case of being “greedy” according to Daniel Farke – got nowhere near its intended target. We know the rest – and for almost the first time since that shot against West Brom squirmed through his hands, the fragile side of the Dutch international revealed itself.
As the clocked ticked past 90:00 it was the Millwall fans making the noise – mocking the Barclay for assuming we were “top of the league” – but the resolve in this group is unwavering, the belief absolute, and Farke’s move to 3-5-2, with Jordan Rhodes joining Pukki up top, was about to pay dividends.
Emi Buendia, all South American flair blended with fire and brimstone, used his slide rule to pick out Rhodes, who must’ve been teetering on the brink of offside, and while others tense up in front of goal, the chap who is now one of us relaxes. The finish was clinical.
Carrow Road rocked once again.
That there were five full minutes between Rhodes’ equaliser and Pukki’s winner seems ridiculous looking back – but there were.
At the time it was a moment a pure ecstasy… pure undiluted elation … but when the dust settles it will be a moment that’s talked about alongside Adam Drury’s equaliser against Boro and Simeon Jackson’s “chance” winner against Derby – the actual finish bearing more than a passing resemblance to Jacko’s scruffy finish.
But if the finish was fortuitous, the move was exquisite. All starting from a threatening Millwall corner.
I’m sure Ewan Wilson won’t mind me sharing this…
Here's that moment. Incredible. #ncfc pic.twitter.com/xp46vbfCy7
— Ewan Wilson (@ewanwilson99) November 10, 2018
The patience shown by the players and their total belief in the system – as highlighted by Mo Leitner is his post-match interview – is total and not one player was tempted to ‘send it’ or ‘stick it in the mixer’. Instead, it was worked through the thirds until Mario Vrancic saw the slightest of gaps in behind the last Millwall defender.
The weight of the pass was perfect, Pukki needed some contact, any contact, and a bit of luck. He got both and it will go down in the annals of Canary history – regardless of what happens over the next six months.
The ol’ girl reverberated. Sir Geoffrey was smiling. And the scenes were of the never to be forgotten variety. Now we know how it felt at St James’ Park when Alex Neil’s City suffered the same fate.
So, wow, we head into the international break, and to Florida, top of the pile, and there is nothing Frank Lampard’s Derby, John Terry’s Villa or Marcelo Bielsa’s bloody Leeds can do about it.
Enjoy it people. The age of Farkeball is upon us.
Sue Read says
Yep. That’s just how I saw it. Incidentally, did you notice Zimmermann and Krul touch fists while they waited for the corner to be taken? It’s moments like that…..
Paul Lancaster says
Great article I think I feel exactly the same and If I was writing it.. Ok the words would be different (and probably less concise) but thats OK
I used a hashtag #weplayasateam and thats right the players interlock and move around Leitner is always around to pick the ball up and change direction.
Here’s a few added observations and I’ll try to be concise
1) How good is Buendia? 2 excellent passes and we get 2 goals works brillaintly with Arrons, scores goals does well defensively lots of flair
2) Vranicic had basically done nothing right to that point but that perfect pass between the 2 defenders was glorious
3) Tim Klose’s part in this goal must be acknowledged – taking the ball from Buendia the runs left to right taking a defender with him.. the key is that flick back to Emil and the carries the defender past the play allowing Emil to serge forward and find Vrancic who was in a lot of space…
4) Poor Jamal Lewis: Steve Morision got into his face for the 2nd Millwall Goal and probably put him off sufficient for the header to be directed at nobody and the on-rushing attacker was perfectly positioned to pick up the pieces before Klose got there
5) How come Rhodes had so much time for our 3rd goal.. it felt to me like he was in so much space he might have been taking a penalty (good job he wasn’t) and it seemed to take ages to get a shot away
6) Whatever Millwall may think about the time added on The goalie who was booked for time wasting took an age to set the ball up for the GK then moved the ball across the 6 yard area to the other side, then there was time for the very long substitution and a goal.. Amos gets the Robbie Savage award (ironically the last time such scenes have occurred at Carrow Road that didn’t involve Ip5w1ch)..
Savage you may recall was substituted too ages to get off the pitch and then came back on it to acknowledge his fans (if he had any)
Great entertainment and certainly one to savour.
I am a little surprised that people haven’t flagged up the defensive issues more. Conceding two goals so soon after Leitner’s strike, some may even suggest it was more of a mentality issue more than anything else (I know that might sound strange after witnessing another comeback). The game should have been seen out at 2-1 with ten minutes to go. I’m sure it’s something Farke will address.
On a different note, does anyone think that the penalty takers have actually been told “send it down the middle because 98% of goalkeepers choose a side” Vrancic mentioned this earlier in the season and I can’t believe that three individual players would take such similarly dreadful penalties just by chance!
Hopefully both talking points will be learned from and we can continue this excellent form after the international break.
Jim Davies says
Not sure any of the penalties were put down the middle. While not being in the corner, all of them have been to one side of the keeper or the other, just not firmly enough struck.
I note that Leitner said in his post-match interview that he would take the next one, and Farke himself has joked about letting a German do it. Maybe that’s the answer.
Alex B says
No one seems to mention the disallowed goal or is it being airbrushed out, and Team Farke has to surely address the difficulties city are having in the Penalty department.
Reading on line during the fame it was mentioned thst possibly Millwall should have had a player sent off for 2 yellows but the Ref didn’t book him for a foul on Krul, but Millwall gas akways been and will continue to a physical side it is in both their and the managers make up.
More teams will try and bully city out of games and we are showing a lot of tenancy to stay in games, being under the radar might have worked up till now but being top if the pile will put a target on cities backs to be knocked off.
A sunshine break, another new coach and hopefully some rest before returning to the two away games at Swansea and Hull and Rotherham at home
Great as always Gary; what a time to be a City fan.
And come on; how many of us, me included, thought that we could, let alone would, be where we are after the Leeds result?
It makes having to go through the turgidity (is that a word?) of last season seem totally worthwhile.
Just as in those days of he who is now down the road, somehow they seem to find a way to win, despite what’s thrown at them.
Should it really have been a free kick against Stiepermann which led to Millwall’s opener? Surely if you’re trying to head a ball at knee height when running from behind the kicker it’s your bad decision?
Another missed penalty, although, at least Pukki did put some pace on the ball, and two glaring defensive errors led me to think we’d get all the bad stuff out of the way at the cost of another home defeat……but this group has some incredible resolve, and just doesn’t know when they’re beaten.
They regroup, and then go again. Must be bloody awful to play or indeed coach against.
Long may it continue.
Farkeball, we love you.
O T B C
Gary Field says
To be fair, I was pleasantly surprised that Millwall, didn’t start out with the proverbial ‘parked bus’ syndrome. If anything, they slightly slipped from their positive approach after scoring their first goal, which certainly helped City.
Can’t help but smile at the salty Millwall fans afterwards regarding all the added on time, whilst completely ignoring our disallowed goal in the first half, which didn’t look offside upon subsequent viewing.
martin penney says
I’d go as far as to say it WAS NOT offside, having seen the Quest highlights.
But when you sit behind the other goal 120 yards away it’s a hard call to make in real time.
I walked behind a trio of Lions fans on their way back to the train station. They were only blaming their own team, not us or referee Jeremy Simpson. Normally I would have indulged in a friendly chat with them but on this occasion I considered it wiser to keep my gob shut.
Which is probably why I’m available to make this comment.
Jim Davies says
Farke was accused by many last season and earlier this season, of not being tactically astute. However, yesterday he showed he is certainly capable of a Plan B. While Millwall made like-for-like substitutions, Farke switched to a 3-5-2, put Jordan Rhodes on up front with Pukki, and as a result we got the win.
It was nice to see that after Krul’s potentially disastrous mistake, one of the centre backs, not sure which at the time, clearly told him to keep,his head up and carry on. Great team spirit, and a no-blame culture.
I thought Tettey had a fantastic game, and played a real captain’s role. He was my man of the match, though it was a difficult choice. Any idea who has won the contract to put the lid back on the Carra?
Andy pearmain says
I chose this as my final match at Carrow Road before moving back to London (not too far from Millwall!). My son told me not to jinx it, and I was praying it couldn’t possibly be as bad as my one game of last season, the 0-0 v. Burton. Bloody hell! This was up there with the three or four really great games I’ve seen here, partly because Millwall genuinely tried to win it with good direct football (I thought their fans were fantastic too). Norwich’s patience was the most impressive part of their performance. I was really impressed with a) Leitner, a real class act, especially now the team is set up to give him the time and space to orchestrate things b) Pukki, who works the back line brilliantly but with real economy (not surprised he rarely gets injured) and c) Stieperman, who seems to find space and options to really hurt the opposition. But above all a truly fantastic game of football. I might even come again…
It certainly is gary 😉 It certainly is …..so happy for Farke and webber and the board really for making this all happen and what really makes me more happy than anything is the people here now are thinking about the clubs long term too . I cant think of too many people we had at the club who done that perhaps someone will tell me 🙂 But probably the most enjoyable season for a while we are Top and Ipswich Bottom and we in good hands the club is and you can feel it so long may it continue Ncfc we are a Team now .
Tony Brown says
For so many seasons we’ve lacked a player with an eye to split a defence, Lansbury, Pritchard, Maddison……. Now we have several PLUS in Pukki somebody to make those runs to connect. Rhodes is great if you can put it on his toe or create space when two up front, but Pukki is really, very impressive. Onwards and upwards!