Ffion Thomas took a trip to the New York Stadium. Unfortunately when she took a bite of Norwich City's Big Apple it was soft and maggot infested...
Random star performer(s)
Given that this was the most inevitable Along Come Norwich result ever possible in the history of football, with pre-match statistics like ‘Norwich have not lost to Rotherham since 1981’ and ‘Rotherham have lost 15 of their last 18 games’, it seems only right that it was inflicted by a manager and a goalscorer who both ACTUALLY SUPPORT US. Norwich-born Paul Warne, made permanent on Friday, has been handed what he has admitted is a gig he didn’t particularly want for his first managerial role, but despite the inevitability of relegation he certainly seems to have established some spirit in his team, and they thoroughly deserved their win here.
The story of Tom Adeyemi, who was with us between the ages of 9 and 22, is an intriguing one that defies the usual footballer stereotype; an Old Norvicensian, he got A*/A*/A in his A Levels and turned down a place at Cambridge (the university, not the club). Although shipped out on loan twice now by his parent club Cardiff, he buried the winning goal with a powerful header, celebrated with exuberance (good), and I, as do many Norwich fans, continue to follow his career with interest.
Moment of the match
Nelson Oliveira going from hero to zero with a completely idiotic and indefensible swing at a Rotherham defender as they hauled each other down at a corner. Frustratingly, it was a huge penalty shout for us, immediately forgotten once Oliveira gave the ref a much easier decision to make with the straight red. The consequences are far-reaching - not only were we handicapped for three quarters of this match, he now faces a lengthy suspension as well. Having essentially saved Alex Neil’s job by firing us to wins against Villa and Derby, we’re back to a threadbare frontline for the foreseeable.
The correct call on the sending off, although Broadfoot was equally culpable in the initial tussle and ended up getting off scot-free. Perhaps a bit card-happy at times in the first half, though showing one for Cameron Jerome’s basketball-esque deliberate handball shortly after half-time was fair enough.
Biggest positive to take
The published attendance was 10,000 exactly, which meant that everyone left with a sense of achievement at their personal contribution.
The inevitable focus on the red card in the post-match interviews as the reason we lost the game – even though we were already 1-0 down. Tip of the hat to Chris Goreham for pre-empting this line of defence in his questioning. Of course it didn’t help, and nor did losing Howson to injury, but we had already started the game slowly and, with eleven men on the pitch, were far too easily carved open for their first goal - against a team that had previously won three games all season. Even with 72 minutes to work out how to play a man down – and with three other recent red cards away from home, we should really be used to it by now – as the clock ticked down the tactics and game management seemed to be nothing more than hoofing it forward to an uninspiring front three of Jerome, Lafferty and Klose. Credit to Wes, who always looked to drive things forward and assisted us back on level terms, but too often found himself up against a brick wall.
Of the post-Taylor grounds, the New York Stadium is one of my favourites. Located just a few minutes’ walk from the town centre, it has a unique floodlight design (yes, that is important) and great sightlines thanks to an away end so steeply raked you feel not only right on top of the pitch, but also in imminent danger of toppling over several rows should you celebrate a goal too exuberantly – as some found out to their peril on Saturday. Unsurprisingly, a travelling support that has now seen seven defeats and two draws in the last nine away games was exasperated and fractious. Credit to the Rotherham fans, though; they have endured a painful season so far, but they turned up, got behind their team and manager, and enjoyed a well-deserved win.
Even before our recent three-games-undefeated mini-upturn in form, I had slated this game as a definite win with the potential for a confidence-boosting glut of goals. It was meant to be the first match of the proverbial ‘nice set of fixtures’ against a series of bottom half sides that would yield plenty of points and propel us back into the play-off places. It hasn’t quite worked out that way so far. We’re pretty much a bottom half side ourselves now, with a yawning eight-point chasm to sixth place. In addition, we’re halfway through January with incoming activity in the transfer market looking as static as our defence, and the only communication from the board coming via Ed Balls’ Twitter feed in the form of succinct excuses: ‘Lots of possession. Ten men. Chances missed.’
For what it’s worth, Rotherham missed far more gilt-edged chances than we did – they should have won even more comfortably. We haul ourselves to Southampton on Wednesday for what will almost certainly be an energy-sapping defeat, before yet another make-or-break home game infused with plenty of Lambert and Moxey narrative and needle. The circus continues.