Football: Cole exploits pass mastery

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The Independent Online
Norwich City. . . 1

Newcastle United. .2

THEY CAME to Carrow Road ready to urge their manager to stay, and they went home, like so many before them this season, singing the praises of this Newcastle team and the striker who wears the No 9. Andy Cole's 28th goal of a prolific season gave the Norwich faithful more than Mike Walker's immediate future to ponder over last night.

Afterwards Walker, wanted by Everton (who have been refused permission by Norwich to approach him), reiterated that he would like the opportunity to talk. 'In law you can speak to who you want and I don't see this as being unreasonable at all,' he said.

'I don't know how the situation is going to develop but I would like it settled amicably one way or the other. If not it may be that I will have a decision to make. I understand a new contract is being prepared for me here but I would still like to find out what Everton have to say. If I were to go, of course it would sadden me, but I am ambitious and sometimes in life there are decisions to make and you move on.'

Aside from that worrying diversion, Norwich are wondering what their continued failure to win on home soil will do to their ambition to win another place in Europe. This was their fourth defeat at Carrow Road in the League and, in quick succession over the holiday period, they have followed up away wins with defeat in front of their own fans.

Certainly they contributed in full to another memorable occasion here but were put in the shade by a Newcastle display that reached irresistible heights. Newcastle fell behind to Mark Bowen's strike after four minutes but then they took over and it was an awesome sight indeed. Peter Beardsley pulled the strings and Cole built up an impressive head of steam, clipping the crossbar and then a post before winning the game, 10 minutes from time, when Robbie Elliott's through-pass split the Norwich defence. 'Mr Goals' simply pushed the ball wide of Bryan Gunn and stroked it home.

It rounded off a perfect night for Kevin Keegan who drooled that his side had produced 'dream football'. His praise continued: 'We have not sustained a display like that over 90 minutes and, as a manager, it has given me my biggest buzz so far.' Cole, he repeated, would play for England. 'He has scored hat-tricks in games this season but not played as well as that. He led the line superbly.'

Ruel Fox's impish wing skills paved the way for Norwich's early lead. He twisted John Beresford inside out and crossed beyond the obvious targets for Bowen to drive in a volley off shin height.

The home side were not given a chance to enjoy their lead. Immediately Newcastle had them back-pedalling and the Magpies were level by the 21st minute through Beardsley's 200th goal of his career. The goal was up there with the best as he came away from Gary Megson, played a one-two with Lee Clark and then lifted his shot over the advancing goalkeeper.

By this stage, Newcastle were in full flow and the Canaries, pass masters themselves, were receiving a lesson in possession football. Newcastle's attacks kept on coming and Cole kept on going close until his 80th-minute winner.

Norwich (1-3-4-2): Gunn; Culverhouse; Newman, Butterworth, Woodthorpe; Fox, Crook, Megson, Bowen; Sutton, Ekoku. Substitutes not used: Howie (gk), Ullathorne, Smith.

Newcastle (4-4-2): Hooper; Robinson, Scott, Howey, Beresford; Lee, Clark, Elliott, Sellars; Cole, Beardsley. Substitutes not used: Srnicek (gk), Watson, Kilcline.

Referee: T Holbrook (Walsall).