15th August 2009
Norwich City (h)
Exeter City 1 Norwich City 1
Report by Ant Moxey
On a stiflingly hot day at the Park, City earned their first League One point of the season thanks to a Richard Logan header in front of an impressive 6,357 supporters, including an equally impressive 1000+ who had made the 300 mile trip from East Anglia.
City lined up: Jones; Duffy, Taylor, Archibald-Henville, Tully; Harley, Cozic, Russell, Sercombe; Stewart, Norwood.
A couple of changes from Tuesday then, with Troy Archibald-Henville replacing Dan Seaborne, Steve Tully replacing red card miscreant Scott Golbourne and James Norwood swapping bench warming duties with Craig McAllister. As it was it was City who made the best of the opening exchanges with Ryan Harley firing the first meaningful strike of the game with a drilled 25-yarder that had the keeper scrambling seven minutes in. Five minutes later Norwich set off on a lightning break and in a two on two race to goal the forward rounded Paul Jones and looked to have guided the ball into an empty net from the edge of the box, but as he peeled away to celebrate, Tully appeared from nowhere to blast the ball off the line and away to safety.
City responded a couple of minutes later when Alex Russell showed dever awareness to feed Marcus Stewart in the box from a very quickly taken free kick on the left. However Stewart lost his bearings a little and steered his volley wide when well placed six yards out. In the 21st minute City old boy Matt Gill finally made his presence felt with his first real contribution of the game. A Norwich corner was flicked out to the far corner of the box where Gill was on hand to smash a first time effort towards the roof of the goal, but Jones was more than equal to it and tipped over comfortably. On the half hour we were treated to a great passage of play when good work from Norwood, Bertie Cozic and Harley fashioned a cross towards the far post, however Norwood and Liam Sercombe got in each other's way and the cross was cleared, eventually falling to the charging Richard Duffy who unleashed a 30-yard effort that whizzed harmlessly high and wide. Sixty seconds later the ball was crossed to Cozic on the right of the box where he turned expertly before fizzing a stunning drive across the face of goal and just past the far post in the final action of note of an even first half which promised much for the second.
And so it was when the second half kicked off that City continued their good work with the first chance of the half in the very first minute. Neat work from Stewart on the touchline saw the ball inside to the scampering Sercombe, but in two minds he smashed a cross/shot across the penalty area that evaded the onrushing strikers that turned out to rather wastefully be neither a cross or shot. Ironically with City in the ascendency for probably the first time in a pretty even game, it was Norwich who opened the scoring in the sixth minute. Midfielder Simon Whaley stunned City with a full blooded thirty-yard drive that smashed onto the crossbar via Jones' fingertips, and from the resulting corner it was 1-0 to the visitors when City - as they did so often against QPR on Tuesday - failed to cut out a ball to the far post as Dario Dumic rose purposefully to butt home from close range. City looked deflated and also devoid of ideas too the opening 12 minutes not being what manager Paul Tisdale intended, so to spice things up, and probably earlier than intended, it was time to introduce Craig McAllister and Richard Logan - a ploy that worked so often last season - at the expense of Cozic and Norwood. Ridiculously it had an immediate effect as Archibald-Henville fed the ball to Stewart wide out on the right where he launched a high inswinging cross in the box. Logan rose above two defenders and with his very first touch in League One this season powered a header low into the far corner to send three sides of the ground into delirium with a goal not entirely dissimilar to Norwich's opener. The game ebbed and flowed for much of the remainder with no little skill but precious little goalmouth action, however on the half hour City fashioned a chance when Tully charged down the right and played the ball into Russell in the box. Cleverly Russell dinked a cheeky chip to the far comer, but it lacked the power or height to beat the keeper and he had an easy collect. A minute later it was Sercombe's turn to belt down the right after receiving the ball after good work from Logan, but his far post cross was volleyed marginally wide by Harley. A couple of minutes later during a proper purple patch from City McAllister crossed from the right was smashed towards goal by Russell 25-yards out, but despite huge appeals from the players and the majority of the Big Bank, the ref was having none of it claiming the defender chested the ball rather than handled it. Fair enough. The final action of a thoroughly enjoyable game came right on the stroke of full time when Harley played the ball into Russell from wide on the left, but his 30-yard daisycutter flew just wide and that was that. A pretty decent performance then, on the back of, strangely, despite the horrendous score line, a good performance in midweek. However, what is glaringly obvious is that when you step up a level your chances have to be taken and your mistakes are punished more severely.