Tuesday night’s 3-1 win over Birmingham will probably only be remembered for one thing and that of course is the thunderb@stard from Marcelino Nunez. You know, the one where John Ruddy remained rooted to the spot as it flew over his shoulder and into the River End net.
The worthies in the Regency Security Stand [River Enders to us died-in-the-wool traditionalists] were treated to a bird’s eye view as Kevin Long’s headed clearance orbited Saturn at least twice before Nunez dropped his shoulder and returned it with interest via one of the sweetest volleys you are likely to see.
It was so good a strike it was reminiscent of Jonny Howson’s goal against Forest a few seasons back. All that makes me think Yorkshire Jonny’s was the better of the two is the fact that he scored it at the “right” end as I was behind the goal in my usual perch in the Barclay.
Soon afterwards, a pinpoint cross was met by our Chilean international who hit the ball deliberately into the turf to keep it down and beat Ruddy with consummate ease and for the whole of that first 45 minutes we were a joy to watch, knocking the ball about for fun and dominating proceedings throughout with something like 72 per cent possession and very few instances of simply knocking it about at the back.
Blues manager John Eustace had little to lose and at the break replaced ineffective midfielder Juninho Bacuna with veteran striker Lukas Jutkiewicz and they started to pile the pressure on, particularly with regard to Kenny McLean and Gaby Sara who were targeted for some individual attention of a sometimes less-than-gentle persuasion.
As self-belief pulled on a Blue shirt for a while we became equally stifled and frustrated, with a great finish from Maxime Colin making it a nervy 2-1 on 53 minutes. The right-back popped up on the edge of the area to beat Angus Gunn into his bottom right corner and I’ll be honest here, I spent the next 15 minutes fully expecting one of our beloved ACN moments.
As regular MFW readers will know, I have had to give up my season ticket [and just about every other activity enjoyed by red-blooded members of the human race] so followed the match on Canaries TV with its excellent commentary from Chris Goreham.
What didn’t help my blood pressure overmuch were the constant reminders from Radio Norfolk guest Greg Downes concerning how Birmingham had pegged us back from 2-0 to 2-2 in that meaningless Carabao Cup game at Carrow Road much earlier in the season. I can still hear him now!
But my worries came to naught and Christos Tzolis put the game nicely to bed with a fine finish as his shot bisected a brace of Birmingham defenders to beat Ruddy at the big man’s far post.
To my mind this goal symbolically represented the young Greek’s reassimilation into the Canary squad and who knows what a confidence booster it might prove for him – and at just the right time too.
It is incredible to think that with just 49 points from 33 games, we are still in the mix for the playoffs as only Burnley steadfastly refuse to join in the game of To Me, To You that every other team from second to 15th appears to be playing with the available points.
There remain only two small questions that the post-match inquest failed to deliver that I would like answers to.
Firstly, where was Dimi Giannoulis’ head between the resumption and when he was hooked [interestingly, Lungi Sorensen was preferred to Sam McCallum]?
And secondly, when Onel Hernandez picked up a knock he was replaced by Tzolis rather than Marquinhos. Was this David Wagner’s free choice or is Marquinhos not yet fit to get 20 minutes under his belt?
So in just what shape does this leave us to face Cardiff City at Carrow Road on Saturday?
Right now I don’t know if my ar$e is bored, punched or countersunk. Wagner will not have heard that Cockney expression for Ain’t got a Scooby before, but although he’d never admit it he might well be feeling the same way
Anyway, I’m pleased to say that this game most certainly was entertainment: