FOOTBALL: Norwich cut loose as Wark goes off

Click to follow

Norwich City 3

Ipswich Town 0

Norwich City eased their relegation concerns last night with a victory, their first in the league in 1995, which became all too easy following the controversial dismissal of the Ipswich skipper, John Wark, in the 45th minute for a foul. Without the old man to hold the defence together the Canary Kids ran riot.

Jamie Cureton and Darren Eadie, the 19-year-old West Country duo, scored the first and third goals that helped lift Norwich five places to a mid- table berth. Not out of the woods yet but the view is a lot, lot clearer.

Eadie's pace is a threat to the most sprightly defender and when he took possession of a loose ball in midfield and accelerated, it was the 37- year-old Wark's misfortune to have to confront him. The tackle was late and brought a promising incursion to a crushing conclusion, but it was still a surprise to see the referee reach for the red card.

"I definitely went for the ball and I thought it was a booking and nothing more," said the senior Premiership statesman about the second sending- off of his long career. The first was in 1976 when the likes of Cureton and Eadie were still babes in arms.

Both Wark and his manager, George Burley, claimed the incident completely altered the course of the game. That cannot be denied because before the interval Ipswich had played the neater football and, while Norwich had come closest to scoring, the clearest opportunity had fallen to the blue shirts.

The tussle, as tense a local derby as East Anglia has known given the proximity of both parties to the relegation demons at the start, was only three minutes old when Norwich were caught napping from their own free- kick, giving Claus Thomsen the freedom to work himself a glorious opening. Andy Marshall advanced tentatively, feared the worst but was allowed to breathe again as the Dane cleared the crossbar with some room to spare.

Within nine minutes of the re-start and with a new zest provided by Ipswich's loss, Norwich gained the breakthrough and some goal it was too. John Newsome hit a long ball for Cureton to pursue and he gave chase with the alacrity and composure that marks him out as one for the future. Quickly out-stripping his markers, he rounded Craig Forrest before tucking the ball home from a tight angle.

Four minutes later Neil Adams created more uncertainty in the visitors' defence and after a couple of rebounds Ashely Ward turned smartly to steer the ball beyond the goalkeeper.

Forrest was beaten a third time in the 78th minute when Cureton impeded his attempt to clear and Eadie picked up the pieces. Still there was time for Norwich to rattle the woodwork through a deflected Mark Bowen effort and for Alex Mathie to do likewise for a now-demoralised Ipswich.

So John Deehan, a manager under pressure at the start as some supporters gathered signatures for a petition calling for Mike Walker's reinstatement, could claim to be the first Norwich manager to do the double over their closest rivals for 43 years. It was also the Canaries' biggest ever win in this fixture. Last night they ought to have been raising a glass in Mr Durkin's direction as well.

Norwich City (4-4-2): A Marshall; Bowen, Newsome, Polston, Ullathorne; Adams (Sutch, 76), Crook, Milligan, Eadie; Ward, Cureton (Newman, 88). Substitute not used: Rhodes (gk).

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Forrest; Yallop, Wark, Whelan, Thompson; Milton, Williams, Thomsen, Slater (Chapman, 77); Mathie, I Marshall. Substitutes not used: Johnson, Baker (gk).

Referee: P Durkin (Portland).