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Norwich v Spurs (Capital One Cup) - 31.10.12

(7.45 PM)

Norwich scorers:-
Vertonghen (o.g.), 84
Jackson, 87

Spurs scorer:-
Bale, 66

Attendance:- 16,465

Referee:- Mr. J. Moss
Assistants:- Mr. M. Scholes & Mr. P. Bankes
Fourth official:- Mr. K. Stroud

Norwich (4-3-2-1):- Bunn; Whittaker, Turner, R. Bennett, Tierney; Howson (Capt.), Fox (sub Tettey, 68), Surman (sub Holt, 82); Snodgrass, Butterfield (sub Jackson, 68); Morison

Subs not used:- Rudd; Garrido, Barnett, E. Bennett

Booked:- Bunn

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris; Walker (sub Defoe, 90), Dawson (Capt.), Caulker, Naughton; Livermore (sub Huddlestone, 46), Carroll (sub Vertonghen, 79); Falque, Sigurdsson, Bale; Dempsey

Subs not used:- Cudicini; Smith; Lennon, Townsend

Booked:- Bale

Spurs mess up in the C.O. Cup
(Newsnow will not permit the headline I would like to have used)

Fielding a side which was just about on par with that which had beaten Carlisle 3-0 in the previous round, and one which looked in control for most of the game, without ever looking sensational, Spurs took a 66th minute lead through Gareth Bale’s powerful right footed effort, but then, as they sought to defend their slender lead they contrived to concede two late goals from Norwich set pieces, despite the insertion of Jan Vertonghen for Tom Carroll with 10 minutes remaining. To cap it all, when given a potential match saver two minutes from the end, when Kyle Walker was brought down in the Norwich area, Clint Dempsey stepped up and saw his penalty saved by keeper Mark Bunn. All in all it was a right “fowl up” by the team which wears the cockerel on its shirt. I don’t think the Newsnow service will permit my preferred choice of words in the headline, which you can transpose accordingly.

There was a great attendance and commitment to this match by the ever-loyal Spurs support, which sadly could not be matched by the home crowd, where large gaps were visible, and the usual Norwich atmosphere did not emerge until the last ten minutes when their team started to show. Andre Villas Boas made several adjustments to his team, with three more important games to come in the next 10 days, and he no doubt felt that the team he chose was good enough to win this game. Indeed it could, and should have won, if only the strategy had not been to try and defend that slender lead.

Michael Dawson skippered the side, and the back four was protected by Jake Livermore and Tom Carroll. Livermore was the defensive of these two, whilst Tom Carroll displayed his usual array of excellent passes. Livermore was replaced at half-time by Tom Huddlestone.

The first half was played at the pace of a practice match, and rarely got the pulses racing. Bale had a good left footed effort, taken from right of goal after 16 minutes, which goalkeeper Bunn held. Bale spent a lot of the evening playing on the right, with Falque on the other side, so Spurs’ star player was not utilised to the full potential for much of the time. Bale turned provider for Dempsey after 23 minutes, with a threaded pass in the middle. Dempsey lifted the ball over the bar.

Norwich’s first chance came two minutes later from a Snodgrass corner, met with a powerful header by Steve Morison, but saved well by Lloris. Walker had a shot from the right at a sharp angle which went just outside the near post., and then after a Falque cross from the left was half cleared, Walker again had an effort go wide. Bale received a pass from Livermore and tried a shot which was driven wide of the keeper’s left post.

In the absence of Grant Holt, who was on the bench, midfielder Jonny Howson was the Norwich captain, and he fired a shot well wide, just before the break.

Just after the break Surman hit a shot that was very well blocked by Caulker, and then Lloris parried the ball away from the ensuing corner. Referee Jon Moss had seen a foul by Norwich though. Falque surged forward for Spurs, after a Norwich handball appeal fell on stony ears. He fed the ball to Bale on the left this time, but his shot was saved. Falque had a great left footed curler across the goal, which the goalkeeper pushed around for a corner.

Sigurdsson had hardly shown in this game for me. I saw one piece of skill in the middle when he turned his defender to continue a move, but little else. Lloris was becoming busier for Spurs, and was out well to the feet of Morison, conceding a corner. Lloris is the future for me. I think he is the more dominating of our keepers in the box. He is not afraid to come off his line, and is often brave in the face of advancing feet to good effect. Personally, I think he should be our number one keeper.

Spurs took the lead with an excellent goal by Gareth Bale from outside the area. He hit a right footed drive with full power that beat Bunn to his right. There was no restraint on Bale’s celebration this time.

Norwich manager Chris Hughton made a double substitution, with Simeon Jackson replacing Butterfield, and Tettey replacing Fox. Both changes would be significant. Falque had another effort from the right at a tight angle, which the keeper saved, and then Howson hit a right foot shot that Lloris saved, conceding a corner. From the corner, it was Clint Dempsey who headed clear in front of goal.

Carroll was replaced by Vertonghen, who took up the midfield position, but would obviously be on hand to try and shore up the defence. The plan didn’t work for Spurs. Grant Holt finally got on for the home side, but it was Tettey’s shot from a corner that took a deflection off Vertonghen to leave Lloris beaten. Lloris was then off his line well to clear from the feet of Morison. Norwich had their tails up, and their crowd was at last making some noise. Their efforts were rewarded with a lead within three minutes, after a free kick from the left, parried by Lloris, but finally planted in the net by Jackson.

That was not quite the end of the story, as Walker made a run into the Norwich area, and was adjudged to have been brought down by Tierney. The referee seemed to take his assistant’s advice in order to give the decision. However, it was all to no avail, and Dempsey fired in a shot that Bunn was able to save.

Defoe made a very late appearance off the bench, and his one involvement was to feed the ball out to Bale on the left, whose cross was headed goalward by Dawson, but saved by Bunn in front of his more vociferous fans.

So, Norwich had the gloating rights after their 100th League Cup victory, which earns them a home quarter-final against their old manager Paul Lambert, who is in charge of Aston Villa. For Spurs, it’s another case of “if only”, as the tournament proceeds without them, and without many high profile clubs. This was an opportunity badly missed.

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