More moving parts than Pat Sharp's Funhouse, but an even divide of the spoils isn't to be sniffed at. Jon Punt sees a work in progress worth following.
New head coach Martin Herdman has the unenviable task of essentially conducting the equivalent of his own pre-season work during City’s opening competitive fixtures. This is all in the midst of a somewhat unnecessarily hectic schedule, given the Women’s National League supercomputer has decreed Norwich are to play five matches in September, another three in October, then one a piece in November and December. Make sense of that if you can.
This has meant some rotation of personnel, while a new playing style is being embedded and the coach learning his players’ individual strengths.
There was a continuation of the 3-5-2 that was so effective against Cambridge United last week. However, against more game opposition in a highly organised London Seaward side, who did well to exploit space out wide, City found it somewhat difficult to create clear cut chances and were placed on the back foot during the latter stages of the first half.
A change in shape back to a more conventional 4-4-2 just before the hour mark, alongside the introduction of Parker and Hailes, saw the hosts assume more control. They were also more able to play the higher tempo football demanded of them with Ellie Smith higher up the pitch, a role she flourished in last term.
When Tash Snelling’s second of the afternoon hit the back of the net it felt like a winner, albeit it for only a few moments.
The finish was sublime, and once again proved what an asset she is to a side that has sometimes been short on experienced heads. The brace was just reward for her afternoon’s efforts, a 90 minute performance full of running, strength and cunning.
With the scores level going into the dying embers of the match, Megan Todd went down under contact in the box that might have been construed to be a bit slight, but was contact nonetheless. What followed was that lovely millisecond where you think the official’s given the spot-kick. Unfortunately the ref ended up harshly booking Todd for simulation. Boooooo.
Hero of the match
It would be easy to single out Snelling, especially as she nearly sealed her hat-trick just moments before the final whistle. However, the constant energy and direct running of the aforementioned Todd was something Seaward struggled to cope with, and she was by some distance Norwich’s best outlet all afternoon.
The Nest was a joyous place to attend last season, because the atmosphere was one of inclusivity and a community being slowly built. IT also often provided most of the more compelling moments across all Norwich sides during 2022/23.
Today felt different, in a good way. There was more purpose, perhaps more expectation. This side means business and the crowd knows it.
Oh, and The Nest still uses Samba de Janeiro for their goal music – don’t mess with the classics.
Our post-match takeaway
As even a contest as you’ll see all season, but City may look back on two points dropped, such was the quality of chances they created late on in the match with Snelling and Smith both coming close.
That said, the level of performance was excellent, especially against a side which is more than capable of competing at the top end of the division this season and had started their campaign with two victories.
Hat tip to the recruitment over the summer too. Six of the seven signings featured and all looked like they have plenty to bring to a squad which has competition for places all over the pitch, a nice place to be just seven days out from a match at Carrow Road.
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