Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Canaries fail to break down Toon

Norwich played out a goalless draw against Newcastle United

The need for Newcastle and Norwich to add quality to their squads was laid bare at Carrow Road as the sides played out a dull 0-0 draw.

Chris Hughton had a chance to banish memories of Norwich's dismal festive period and get one over on the club that sacked him so harshly in December 2010, but his side only had two serious attempts on goal - a Russell Martin shot that clipped the post and a late header from captain Grant Holt.

With the unfit Holt consigned to the substitutes' bench for most of the match, Norwich lacked a clinical edge up front. Newcastle, who had lost their previous four games, fared even worse in going forward as Papiss Cisse worked hard up front, but failed to test Mark Bunn in the Norwich goal.

Anthony Pilkington and Wes Hoolahan gave Magpies debutant Mathieu Debuchy a torrid first 10 minutes in English football, beating the Frenchman several times, but without the physical presence of Holt in the box, Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson dealt with their crosses easily.

Jonas Gutierrez brushed aside three Norwich players as he charged towards goal, but his cross to Cisse was poor and Bunn was only tested once in the first half when Vurnon Anita laid the ball off to Gabriel Obertan and he fired a sharp volley which the Norwich stopper punched away.

Norwich suddenly found the energy they had been lacking, breaking through Hoolahan, who found space in the box after playing a clever one-two with Simeon Jackson, but James Perch raced back to steal the ball off the Irishman just before he pulled the trigger.

Norwich came out with much more purpose after the break, but still Tim Krul had little to do. Obertan put in a crucial block to deny Bradley Johnson and Robert Snodgrass threatened with a mazy run, but Coloccini came to the rescue.

The Canaries almost took the lead from the most unlikely source - right-back Martin - who fired a brilliant volley that clipped the outside of the post.

The Canaries went close again moments later when Snodgrass played in Pilkington, but Krul came out to block the winger's shot and Johnson skied the rebound. Coloccini flashed a well-timed volley wide with 10 minutes left in a rare Toon attack.

Norwich tried hard to grab a last-gasp winner, and they almost got it in injury time when Holt got on the end of a cross but he could only glance over.