One of those beautiful double-duty days when our women’s team spread joy where the men struggle. They’re everything you want a Norwich City team to be, says Jon Punt.
City were forced to ditch their successful three at the back, mainly due to the absences of the energetic and skilful Lauren Tomlinson and dependable and composed captain Larkins. Herdman reshuffled to a 4-2-3-1 in possession and 4-3-3 out of it, with youngster Holly Kennard given freedom to rampage down the left and the returning Rachel Lawrence offering an equally threatening outlet on the opposite flank. It was clear City saw merit in utilising their superior speed in wide areas, and yet they didn’t really take full advantage of it until after the interval.
The Nest continues to draw attendances way above the league’s average with steady growth over the season so far. To add to the increasing numbers, the songbook is starting to expand too, more and more individual player chants coupled with a delightful mix of youthful exuberance is meaning the team’s home is becoming an exciting place to watch this team develop.
Tash Snelling’s been enjoying one of her best seasons in a yellow shirt. Her hat-trick brought her level with last season’s tally, and it was just reward for an afternoon packed with endeavour. The pick of the trio was Snelling’s second, when she was found of the left hand side of the box at a fairly acute angle with no real right to get a shot off. The strike was expertly dispatched, curling the ball around a defender and rendering the Actonians’ keeper completely helpless by the time she’d seen it.
It settled the team and restored their two-goal advantage quickly after the visitors had pegged them back. And provided the platform on which to build towards claiming a comprehensive victory – something this team might need more of if the title race comes down to goal difference.
Snelling involved again here, as she was found by Kennard and clean through on goal, only to be chopped down with just the keeper to beat. Somehow the referee decided to ignore the challenge, seemingly due to the fact he’d already awarded a penalty just minutes earlier so couldn’t possibly give another.
Oh, additional minor gripe – and I can only assume it was because of a lack of volunteers to hit the play button – there was no Samba De Janeiro played after the goals. This is usually a highlight.
Hero of the match
At 18 years old, Holly Kennard presents a real prospect for City. Not only did she claim three assists, she also created a bagful of further chances and showcased why Norwich were so keen to snatch her away from Sudbury earlier this season. Kennard allies pace with an excellent touch and, essentially, end product. There is now serious competition for places in attacking areas and it won’t be long before the youngster is among the goals.
Our post-match takeaway
Five goals, an element of cruise control in the second half and Norwich close back in on leaders AFC Wimbledon. While they beat Actonians by a larger margin than any other side in the division this season, it still feels like there are more gears to go through. The squad is the perfect combination of a few experienced heads, bringing on fresh and exciting talent that have been cannily plucked from other sides or brought through via the club’s academy pathway. Everything you want a Norwich City team to be.