Sunday, 20 September 2009

Holt Barges City To a Point.

An 'awayday' at Norwich is always only partially about the football.

A beautiful city centre, seemingly untarnished by the architects of the 60's and 70's but added to with loving care by those same professionals in the 90's and noughties.

On my last visit, I would quite cheerfully have stayed in the hospitable Wig and Pen, rather than walk back to Carrow Road for what I was convinced was going to be another terrible display.
I was right of course. My memory is of being totally outplayed in the December drizzle but the records say that we only lost 1-0.

Yesterday, The W&P was equally charming, plus the sun was shining but I couldn't wait to get into the ground.
Football is being enjoyed rather than endured this season.

Surely one of the largest recent Charlton away crowds, (outside London), had made it to Norfolk?
Last season, you'd have had to be a fan of the Marquis de Sade to gain pleasure from following Charlton on the road.
As we were often reminded, our support was a combination of F and S.

I'm not going to type out a minute by minute breakdown of events. What I will say is that yesterday, like last week against Southampton, there were two Charltons on display.

After a few minutes of settling in, the first 45 was when Charlton dominated. A diving header from Burton and a looping, seemingly slow motion header from Shelvey, sent the away fans into raptures.
"We want 7!"
"We are top of the league!"

Both chants were going to come back and bite us on the bum.

Shelvey particularly enjoyed his goal. The home fans had started giving him jip soon after our first goal and he wound them up by signing with his fingers the score of 1-0.

The Norfolk country boys responded as if he had set fire to a ballboy and then ran around the pitch ripping up pictures of Delia.
His every touch was booed, until half time.
His sliding celebration was exactly the one we'd all have done in a packed stadium when we were just 17.
I still do something similar when playing keepy uppy with a balloon in the living room........

Unfortunately, No sooner had we managed to get ourselves into a comfortable lead than Norwich got themselves back in the game. A very quickly taken Holt throw left the defence all out of position and Hoolahan with only Rob Elliot to beat. He took his chance really well and at half time the score was 2-1 to the visitors.

The second half was all Norwich.
Our midfield looked jaded and Norwich grew and grew in confidence.
Holt was a thorn in our side all afternoon.
He went down as if shot from the stands after a clash with Nicky Bailey but surprisingly the referee Tanner only had a chat with Bailey. I was expecting a yellow card or worse.
Holt managed to get Llera booked by performing an impeccable dive after Big Mig had won the ball cleanly. Llera is now one booking from a ban. Worse was to come from Holt.

Surprisingly, even though Charlton looked as if the team were playing to hold onto what they had at 2-1, there were a few chances to put the game to bed. McLeod had two guilt edged goal vouchers but he couldn't cash them in. (Chris Dickson was busy scoring 2 for the Pirates of Bristol while Izale was fluffing his lines.)

As the game headed into injury time, Mcleod received the most ridiculous yellow card. Burton had gone off for treatment but was ready to rejoin the action. The free kick had yet to be taken and Mcleod advanced to the player shaping to whip in the ball, to warn him that Burton was coming on behind him. The referee blew his whistle to caution Mcleod for not retreating. Doh!

The Norwich goal that had seemed inevitable midway through the half had not materialised. Had it been scored when Norwich were stroking the ball about and bypassing our midfield none of us would have cared so much.

To lose the extra 2 points in injury time was most galling.
When the ball looped into the net off Holt, (him again,) I wasn't too concerned.
There had been the clearest of clear fouls on Rob Elliot, (and as we all know, you only have to stand next to a keeper nowadays to give away a foul.)

I was astounded when the referee played to the crowd and awarded the goal. I've seen television pictures which aren't really at the right angle to show how devastatingly Elliot was taken out by Holt. Kind of ironic that Holt suddenly managed to be a big, tough, hurly burly player who could dive in and clatter a goalkeeper when earlier on he was a timid flower who went down in agony when a butterfly wing touched him, or a Charlton player came close.

There must be the most under reported and largest enclave of displaced Yorkshire folk in Norfolk. News of Leeds winning at a canter against the Jills brought a cheer and sustained applause, at least equal to a Norwich goal.

So, still unbeaten and still in the top two.

On the balance of play, a 2-2 draw seems fair. The way the game finished though it could have been a complete robbery. Dailly managed to keep the ball out with a brave block to preserve a point when 3 had seemed ours only moments before.

Casual Rating
The Lacoste polo shirt goes to Norwich as a city. A beautiful place with friendly locals. We chatted to a really nice feller and his wife in the station after the game and could have stayed there for ages. Shelvey gets a shirt too for his very juvenile but always highly amusing reminder to the home fans of the score at the time.
The referee had a mixed game. He was strong enough at times to give a decision that he 'knew' was right, even though everyone in the ground thought otherwise.
For the first time this season though, I'm going to award the Primark novelty slogan tee shirt to Charlton's second half, especially midfield performance. A let down. The defence were getting rid of the ball without too much of a problem but it was just coming straight back again within seconds.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the ref link!