Football: Akindiyi bridges gap

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The Independent Online
Norwich City 1

Robins 64

West Ham United 0

Attendance: 19,110

THE improved, well-appointed Carrow Road ground has three new stands with the fourth on the way. The Norwich team is only three-quarters finished as well, the ghost of Chris Sutton haunting every attack.

On Friday, manager John Deehan brought Mike Sheron from Manchester City to beef up his attacking line of Efan Ekoku and Mark Robins. The answer to Norwich's lack of penetration, though, may yet come from within the club. Just after the hour, the disappointing Ekoku was withdrawn for Ade Akindiyi, a London-born product of the club's youth team. Within three minutes he had created Norwich's breakthrough.

Tussling with David Burrows far out on the right, Akindiyi judged the flight of the ball better, collected it, checked and delivered a perfect cross to Robins' feet. His side-footed volley struck the sprawling Ludek Miklosko, but Robins still smashed the rebound into the gaping net.

But Akindiyi, strong, direct and not unskilful, is not yet the finished item. He fluffed a chance in front of goal then snatched at a 20-yard shot. Deehan described him as 'still a little hot-headed on the ball'.

Norwich dominated the first half without really looking like scoring and Robins appeared to have broken the deadlock after 47 minutes, steering a header inside the post despite being surrounded in the six-yard box. Referee Peter Jones decided Neil Adams had drifted offside, but Deehan felt Adams was in line.

Norwich should have been ahead at half-time. A Robins side-foot and a clutch of misdirected headers and close-range shots from Ekoku were their best chances. But with Jeremy Goss rampant in midfield a goal seemed inevitable.

West Ham manager Harry Redknapp said that the only shots from his side which were worthy of mention came in the kickabout, dismissed speculation he will buy Alan Kernaghan and looked wistful when asked if he had Tony Cottee in mind. 'Yes, if someone can lend me the money.'