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Sports Direct Arena
The nerves continue and with nine games left City find themselves needing six points to reach the magic 42. Of course with the three teams in the relegation zone only in the low twenties another six may not be needed – but CITY REALLY need a win now and they need it quick.
I watched this one on Sky, recorded after Liverpool went through to the FA Cup semi final, playing at the same time on ITV. I had this one down as a loss for Norwich so I really wasn’t surprised.
Howson made his debut here, and produced a mixed performance – providing some good surging runs but also giving the ball away far too much. Lambert changed his team radically again, again putting Martin on the bench and also benching Holt, a bewildering decision when Morison is still starting. Hoolahan also dropped to the bench.
For about the first 15 minutes Norwich were not even at the races and could easily have been three or four down rather than the one that Cisse scored. Ruddy pulled off a stunning save to deny Ba and if it doesn’t get awarded save of the week then there is no justice – although Sky may not do their weekly awards due to only four games being played this weekend.
The rest of the first half saw Norwich gaining more of a foothold in the game but this was more down to sloppiness from Newcastle than anything else. Both sides were poor.
The second half saw a different Norwich and they came out absolutely raging. Early moves down both the right (Bennet) and left (Pilkington) led to chances and Krull pulled off a good save from a Whitbread header (although to be fair, it was straight at him). But Pardew to his credit acted quicker than Lambert and made an important change, withdrawing Ben Arfa who was failing to track back and making a slight tweak in the formation on the hour mark. With Lambert failing to change anything the momentum changed and again Norwich were under siege.
For the second time in a row Norwich looked quite frankly poor and next Saturday’s home game against Wolves (who conceded five to United today) is now looking like a desperate must-win game.
Final score: Newcastle United 1, Norwich City 0
NEWCASTLE: Krul, Coloccini (c), Cabaye, Simpson, Williamson, Guthrie (Gosling 76), Cisse (Ameobi 69), Ben Arfa (Santon 63), Perch, Gutierrez, Ba. Subs not used: Elliot, Abeid, Vuckic, Donaldson.
CITY: Ruddy, Drury (Hoolahan 82), Morison, Whitbread, Surman, Pilkington (Martin 85), Fox, E. Bennett, Ward (c), Howson (Holt 77), Naughton. Subs not used: Steer, Johnson, Crofts, Jackson.